Watching someone who struggles to communicate or express himself/herself is often a difficult thing. People suffering from aphasia face such difficulties in communicating. Aphasia is a communication disorder, affecting the person’s ability to use or understand words. They may also find it tough to understand a conversation, write a word, and use numbers. Any damage to the brain leads to this problem. A severe head injury, stroke, brain tumor, or any other neurological condition could result in aphasia. It is more common in adults. There are several therapies to treat aphasia. Here are a few of them.
Speech and language therapy is widely used to treat people with aphasia. A speech and language therapist helps them restore their ability to communicate. Those who have agrammatism, lack of intonation ability, and lack of syntax will find this treatment helpful. The therapist will also explore alternative ways of communication. For best results, speech therapy should start as soon as possible after diagnosing the disorder.
Melodic Intonation Therapy
Known as music therapy, this is considered a simple, useful, and easy therapy to offer. It tries to convert singing to speech, using musical elements such as rhythm and melody. Patients begin by singing single phrases and as the therapy progresses the phrases become longer. Every therapist has a different way of using this technique. This is most commonly used for patients with non-fluent aphasia or Broca’s aphasia.
The computer based treatment makes use of touchscreen tablet or software that targets language skills. This treatment is also found to be effective in restoring their language usage. This could also track and monitor the progress of a patient. Experts suggest that one should start using computer-based applications with the assistance of a speech and language therapist. It is best to follow a plan formulated by a professional.
Reciprocal Scaffolding Treatment (RST)
This is a group treatment for aphasia. In this treatment, an expert with aphasia, who has particular knowledge of a skill, teach novices. He or she engages in “reciprocal teaching interactions” with novices. This is in contrast to other treatments. In all other therapies, the aphasia-affected person tries to relearn how to communicate. As a person suffering from aphasia interacts with a group, the quality of his/her life will be improved. To increase the treatment’s effectiveness, it is often used in conjunction with other techniques.
Visual Action Therapy (VAT)
Individuals who have global aphasia undergoes VAT. It is a nonvocal approach, which ultimately trains patients to produce symbolic gestures for visually absent stimuli. The patients, thus, learn to use hand gestures. It involves a 12-step training hierarchy. This therapy is found effective when all other treatments fail to treat the disorder.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
As part of the treatment, an electromagnet is placed on the scalp and it is stimulated for a short time using an electric current. This is done to stimulate those parts of the brain, which are affected by aphasia. When used along with other approaches this might be useful. When TMS was combined with speech therapy, an additional improvement was noticed in people with aphasia.
Medicines have not yet proved effective in treating aphasia like therapies. Research is still on to determine its effect on aphasia patients. Medication such as piracetam, bifemelane, piribedil, bromocriptine, and idebenone are being used to treat it. However, it is found that medications can be used to treat depression or behavioral problems associated with aphasia.
Besides these treatments, the approach of caregivers is also significant for the recovery of a person suffering from aphasia. They also should be trained to stimulate communication from the affected person. The communication practice at home can contribute tremendously to improve the suffering person’s expressive language.