Aphasia is a language impairment that typically results from damage to the left hemisphere of the brain and consequently, is a common impairment after stroke. The resulting language dysfunctions are roughly classified as expressive (Broca's aphasia) or receptive (Wernicke's aphasia).
An individual with Broca's aphasia has a partial or total inability to speak or produce spontaneous speech. They often have no difficulty understanding others, however, thoughts and intentions are difficult to express and may be non-fluent in nature. This form of aphasia can also affect written communication.
An individual with Wernicke's aphasia has a partial or total inability to understand spoken and sometimes written language. Expression of language may be fluent in nature, but is not comprehensible.
The symptoms of global aphasia are those of severe Broca's aphasia and Wernicke's aphasia combined. There is an almost total reduction of all aspects of spoken and written language, in expression as well as comprehension.
Authors*: Amy Henderson, Sandra Bélisle-L'Anglais, Julie-France Hénault, Lyna Kaing, Caroline Lévesque, Sia Ching Tran, Véronique Vaillant, Adam Kagan, Annabel McDermott
Expert reviewer: Rosemary Martino