Aphasia is a speech and language disorder where a person has difficulty expressing or interpreting language, either in written or spoken forms, or both. Most often, aphasia is a result of a stroke, aneurysm, or brain injury that has impacted the left hemisphere of the brain. But, it can also be caused by a neurodegenerative disorder that has worsened over time. Aphasia can impact every facet of one’s life. Recently, Hollywood icon and Emmy Award-winning actor Bruce Willis cited aphasia as the reason he’s stepping away from acting, saying that it was “impacting his cognitive abilities.” Other notable celebrities that have been diagnosed with aphasia include Dick Clark, Sharon Stone, Emilia Clarke, and the late Kirk Douglas.
Erin Badour, B.A., BSC., M.S., CCC-SLP, BCN and her team at NeuroZone use neurofeedback to treat aphasia and many other neurodegenerative disorders. Beginning with a qEEG Brain Mapping and Evaluation, Erin studies your unique brainwave chemistry to find faulty neurons and errant brainwaves. Then, she meets with you to discuss her findings and designs a tailored protocol to regenerate damaged neurons, restore functional brainwave chemistry, and reset your brain’s neurological baseline. If you struggle with aphasia and are looking for a simpler solution than other treatments, schedule a complimentary consultation with Erin at our Playa del Rey, Santa Monica, or Redondo Beach offices. To speak with us directly, call us at:
Playa del Rey & Santa Monica: (310) 821-3640
Redondo Beach: (424) 247-8193
Six Types of Aphasia
For a majority of people, language is produced and interpreted in the left cerebral hemisphere of the brain in two specialized regions; Broca’s Area and Wernicke’s Area. Broca’s area is the anterior speech region in the frontal lobe, responsible for speech production. Wernicke’s area is adjacent to the auditory cortex and deals with speech comprehension. These two areas work in concert when writing, reading, and speaking. Aphasia occurs when one or both of these two areas are damaged. In a stroke, if blood flow from the middle cerebral artery to the left hemisphere is disrupted, aphasia usually follows. When oxygenated blood is kept from these left-hemisphere neurons, they begin to die. The brain then compensates by venturing to neurons in the right hemisphere – ones that are ill-equipped for language function. This results in patients with aphasia having difficulty producing comprehensible, fluent speech and understanding language in various forms. In addition, aphasia can develop over time as a degenerative disorder known as primary progressive aphasia, or be the subsequent result of head trauma. When discussing speech aphasia, there are six different types that occur due to brain injury or stroke.
Broca’s aphasia is a speech disfluency disorder where sentences:
- Sound forced, labored
- Are missing linking words like conjunctions, prepositions, and articles
- Have lost normal grammatical structure
Patients with Broca’s aphasia still retain comprehension and their speech is contextually consistent. But they speak with long pauses and leave in only major nouns, verbs, and adjectives. Neuroscientists and speech pathologists theorize that this is because the brain is using right-hemisphere neurons for word retrieval and syntax formation – a task these particular neurons are inept at.
Unlike Broca’s aphasia, Wernicke’s aphasia is a fluent disorder where the rate of speech is normal and not interrupted by long pauses. But, the speech produced is oftentimes unintelligible. Compared to Broca’s aphasia, patients with Wernicke’s aphasia have a more difficult time comprehending written and spoken words. Yet, they are sometimes not fully aware of the severity of their disorder. Their impaired comprehension extends to interpreting their own speech.
Conduction aphasia occurs when the neural pathway connecting Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas has been damaged. This condition causes patients to struggle with repeating back verbatim what was spoken to them. These patients will repeat main ideas or themes but have difficulty in word-for-word repetition. They will self-correct and try again several times, each attempt getting closer to the exact phrase given. Speech is fluent, though, and comprehension is still fully intact, but working memory is severely diminished. So, patients will be told a sentence like: “The pastry chef was elated” and repeat back “Something about a happy baker.”
Global aphasia is perhaps the most inhibiting of the six types of aphasia. With global aphasia, comprehension, spontaneous speech production, and naming are limited, so patients may only be able to say and understand single words, nonwords, or no words at all. Global aphasia obstructs reading and writing centers in the brain, so written communication is impaired.
Anomic aphasia affects word recall but doesn’t lower reading and writing capabilities. Patients with anomic aphasia have difficulty finding the intended word, instead filling the silence with fillers like “uh” and “um” or using general words such as “thingy” or “whatchamacallit”. Anomic aphasia may be the last stage of recovery from other aphasia types.
Transcortical aphasia is when different neurons surrounding the brain’s language centers are damaged but Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas are left intact. There are three offsets to this type of aphasia. Transcortical motor aphasia causes patients to speak in single-word responses, but they can repeat back long grammatically complex phrases. Second, transcortical sensory aphasia is caused by damage around Wernicke’s area, resulting in impaired comprehension but fluent speech. These patients also confuse related words like “son” and “father” or “apple” and “orange”. The third, mixed transcortical aphasia, is a combination of motor and sensory aphasia where Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas are not damaged but their functions are severely limited. This condition’s effects are similar to global aphasia.
Neurofeedback For Aphasia
When different neurons interact with one another, they generate oscillating electrical waves that regulate our mood, behavior, emotions, and cognitive abilities. Once a stroke or brain injury damages these neurons, the brain loses its capacity to operate within these neuron-specific wavelengths. So, the brain remains locked out of its most essential frequencies. Neurofeedback is designed to corral the brain’s errant waves and recenter them within this desired wave range. When treating aphasia, we apply non-invasive nodes around the left side of your head. These sensors read your brain’s waves and translate them through visual and auditory cues. Either in the form of an audible beep or during a computer game, the neurofeedback device tells the patient when their brain is within the desired frequency. For aphasia patients, Erin and her team tailor a personalized protocol to help your brain repair cognitive function. This training has been shown to strengthen neural networks in language centers of the brain, restoring language function to varying degrees.
Erin is a licensed speech-language pathologist and is also board-certified in neurofeedback. She has extensive experience working with patients of all ages and has helped hundreds with her drug-free, non-surgical approach. During your initial consultation, Erin will learn about your unique circumstances and will then administer a qEEG Brain Mapping and Evaluation test. We begin first with a questionnaire and verbal games to test current cognitive abilities. Then, we will place a neurofeedback cap around your head. This cap has leads that monitor and record the brain’s current wave range. Next, you will take a test to measure comprehension and attention. The result of these three tests shows Erin where your brain is missing optimal function. During your follow-up appointment, Erin will discuss her findings with you and propose a prospective protocol to restore your brain’s capabilities.
The First Neurofeedback Session
At your first session, we will have you seated in our comfortable zero-gravity chair. Based on your protocol, we will place lead around the left side of your head, targeting Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas. Then, we will either have you watch tranquil videos with your eyes open or have you rest in the chair with your eyes closed. When your brainwaves reach the desired frequency, you will hear a beep in the headphones. It will continue to beep for the next 30-60 minutes every time your brainwaves enter the desired frequency. This process rewards the brain for working optimally and increases the chances of this state becoming your everyday baseline.
How Much Does Aphasia Treatment Cost in Southern California?
The price of your treatment is based on the extent of our services, how many sessions we include, and how many protocols Erin feels are right. Typically, patients undergo 2-3 protocols with weekly sessions over a couple of months. We will discuss and determine your unique costs at your complimentary consultation. If you would like to learn more about neurofeedback, visit our blog! To reach us directly, call us at (310) 821-3640.
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