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How a brain injury can cause aphasia

On Behalf of | Jan 18, 2023 | Catastrophic Injuries

When someone suffers a traumatic brain injury (TBI), the effects on their senses, faculties and motor skills vary based on the location of the injury. Different parts of the brain are responsible for different functions.

The left hemisphere of the brain, for example, is where language is processed. If that part of the brain is injured, even in a concussion, people can suffer a condition called aphasia.

What is aphasia?

Aphasia is a type of communication disorder. It can affect a person’s ability to find or understand words. How it affects a person depends on the type of aphasia they have.

Expressive aphasia makes it difficult for people to express their thoughts, either verbally or in writing. A milder form of expressive aphasia is called anomic aphasia.

Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head at a constituent event over a decade ago, has been public about her continued struggles with language. She explains it this way: “The words are right there on the tip of my tongue, but I can’t always get them out.”

Some people don’t even find the words on the tip of their tongue. They just aren’t there. While this may appear to others to be a cognitive issue, aphasia doesn’t affect a person’s intellectual capacity. Giffords explains, “Though my cognition — my understanding and intelligence — is unaffected by my aphasia, sometimes that is not clear to new acquaintances because of my speech.”

Outcomes of aphasia vary

Aphasia may be temporary or it can permanent. It’s impossible to know early on whether the condition will improve, remain or possibly get progressively worse. There are multiple therapies available that can help people with any kind of aphasia recover some of their language skills.

Certainly, aphasia caused by a concussion can affect a person’s ability to work or even to live on their own. That’s why if a loved one has suffered a TBI caused by someone else’s actions or negligence that has affected their language skills, it’s crucial not to agree to any kind of settlement until you have a better idea of the full extent of the injuries. Having experienced legal guidance can help ensure that you seek the appropriate compensation.