Tips for Communicating: Different Types of Aphasia After Stroke

For families living with aphasia due to stroke



Companion piece to "Caring for a Survivor with Aphasia" in our Stroke Connection Fall 2016 issue.

Beth Crawford, MS, CCC-SLP

With a survivor with receptive aphasia

“Never assume that the person with receptive aphasia is comprehending your message,” Crawford said. Always verify they understand what you said by presenting your messages in a variety of ways -- writing, drawing, gesturing, looking at pictures, etc. For the person with aphasia it can be exhausting trying to keep up in a world full of words. Caregivers need to be sensitive to this fatigue, and recognize if they are not in an ideal state for comprehending language. Set the stage for successful communication by maintaining good eye contact, positioning yourself on the same level and offering a listening attitude.  Dedicate some time to the interaction rather than adding to the pressure by rushing.  “For someone with receptive aphasia, the actual words may not sink in, but these nonverbal cues (setting the stage, eye contact, a listening attitude) will send a clear message that you believe them to be a competent, intelligent communication partner,” she said.


With a survivor with expressive aphasia

When communicating with someone with expressive aphasia, never assume that you received the message that was intended. You have to go back and verify that you understood accurately. “You can do that in several ways, but most commonly you would try to restate their message using simple language or ask yes/no questions to verify that you understood with accuracy,” Crawford said. Accept communication in any form, and don’t fake understanding because you don’t want the survivor feel bad. Be honest when you hit a road block and ask for permission to take a break and come back to it later if you can’t think of any other way to facilitate that interaction. “But when you ask permission to take a break and come back later, make sure that you follow up on that.”


With a survivor with global aphasia

“With global aphasia, you have to continually remind yourself that verbal loss is not the same as cognitive loss,” Crawford said. “Even though they can’t always reveal it, they still can reason and use their judgment.” When communicating with a survivor with global aphasia, decrease distractions and pay attention to body language and facial expression; engage all of the senses when you’re trying to interact and communicate. “Don’t avoid interacting because it’s hard. Even if you can’t communicate specific messages all of the time, you can still achieve a social connection. Find ways to enjoy each other that don’t rely heavily on words. So you may listen to music or take walks, appreciate art, those kinds of nonlanguage activities.”

 


 

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Stroke Rehabilitation

Making the Best Decisions at Discharge After Stroke

The type of rehabilitation and support systems a survivor receives at discharge can strongly influence health outcomes and recovery. In this, the first part of a two-part series on stroke rehab, we offer guidance for the decision-making process required when it’s time to leave the hospital.

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Following a stroke, about two-thirds of survivors receive some type rehabilitation. In this second of our two-art series, we want to alleviate some of the mystery, fear and anxiety around the inpatient rehab part of the stroke recovery journey.
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AHA-ASA Resources

The Support Network

When faced with challenges recovering from heart disease or stroke, it’s important to have emotional support. That is why we created a network to connect patients and loved ones with others during their journey.

Stroke Family Warmline

The Warmline connects stroke survivors and their families with an ASA team member who can provide support, helpful information or just a listening ear.

Let's Talk About Stroke Patient Information Sheets

Let's Talk About Stroke is a series of downloadable patient information sheets, created by the American Stroke Association, that presents information in a question-and-answer format that's brief, easy to follow and easy to read.

Request Free Stroke Information Packets

Fill out this online form to request free information about a variety of post-stroke topics.

Caregiver Guide to Stroke

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Tips for Daily Living Library

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Stroke Support Group Finder

To find a group near you, simply enter your ZIP code and a mile radius. If your initial search does not pull up any groups, try
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Stroke & Parts of the Brain

When Stroke Affects the Parietal Lobe

The parietal lobe helps us make sense of sensory information, like where our bodies and body parts are in space, our sense of touch, and the part of our vision that deals with the location of objects.

When Stroke Affects the Frontal Lobe

Of the four lobes that make up the cerebral cortex, the frontal lobe is the largest. It plays a huge role in many of the functions that make us human — memory, language, movement, judgment, abstract thinking.

When Stroke Affects the Temporal Lobe

The temporal lobe has several functions, mainly involved with memory, perception and language.

When Stroke Affects the Brain Stem

The brain stem serves as a bridge in the nervous system. It sits at the top of the spinal column in the center of the brain. When a stroke happens there, it can cause a few different deficits and, in the most severe cases, can lead to locked-in syndrome.

When Stroke Affects the Thalamus

The thalamus can be thought of as a "relay station," receiving signals from the brain’s outer regions (cerebral cortex), interpreting them, then sending them to other areas of the brain to complete their job.
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Departments

Stroke Notes

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Support Showcase

Our new department highlighting the good work being done by stroke support groups from around the nation. If you are part of a successful support group we should consider featuring, let us know!