The Incidence of Stroke and Aphasia
Strokes are very common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 795,000 people have strokes every year. Due to better medical treatments, more people are surviving strokes. However, stroke survivors are likely to have physical disabilities and communication impairments. Stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability in the United States.
Approximately one-third of people who have a stroke will experience aphasia. Aphasia is specifically caused by a stroke that damages the brain’s language centers. These include Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area. Broca’s area is responsible for language production, while Wernicke’s area is responsible for language comprehension. Both areas are typically found in the left hemisphere of the brain, though they can be on the right side for a small percentage of people.
Aphasia following a stroke is usually at its most severe right after the stroke. Aphasia tends to get less severe (spontaneous recovery) in the days, weeks and months following a stroke. Working with a speech-language pathologist (SLP) as soon as possible can help boost recovery. SLPs can provide therapy that helps the brain recover and rewire itself.