Receptive Aphasia:
Effective Home Treatment

We provide medical information and professional exercises on DVD to help improve your understanding and treatment of receptive aphasia.

Here, we will help you better understand what your loved one is going through and also demonstrate ways to improve their communication skills.

Language Therapy on Video

As speech pathologists we designed a clinical exercise program on DVD in order to provide you with successful therapy techniques to use at home!

However, your understanding of this ailment is our first priority:

What is Receptive Aphasia?

It is classified as a neurological language disorder that primarily affects a person's ability to comprehend spoken words.

It is also characterized by the use of disordered sentences that have little or no meaning, including adding extra words, and using words that don't exist in our vocabulary.

Other Medical Names:

  • Wernicke's aphasia
  • Fluent aphasia

Wernicke's aphasia derives its name from a German neuro-psychiatrist, Carl Wernicke (1848-1904), who identified a specific area in the left hemisphere of the brain (known as, Wernicke's Area).

This area is responsible for comprehension of spoken language as well as accurate verbal output.

Fluent aphasia refers to a person's ability to easily produce speech. However, even though a person with fluent aphasia has normal articulation and rhythm of speech, their spoken sentences lack meaning and often make no sense at all.

What are the Causes?

Receptive aphasia is a neurological disorder caused by damage to a specific area in the left hemisphere of the brain. Receptive aphasia is not a disease, but a symptom of injury to the brain.

The most common causes are stroke, traumatic brain injury, and brain tumors.

Stroke (CVA): A cerebral vascular accident, better known as a stroke, is the most common cause. A stroke is a temporary or permanent loss of brain tissue caused by a blockage or interruption of blood flow to the brain.

Brain Injury: Traumatic brain injury can cause a range of speech and language disorders. Disabilities resulting from brain injury will depend on the site of lesion (a specific area of the brain where the damage occurred). If the site of lesion includes Wernicke's area, the related symptoms may be present.

Brain Tumors: A brain tumor may also cause fluent aphasia. The location and size of the tumor will determine any symptoms (and how severe they may be) an affected individual will experience.

Common Symptoms of Receptive Aphasia:

  • Poor comprehension of spoken and written language
  • Speech is fluent, but has little or no meaning
  • Difficulty repeating sentences accurately
  • Speak in long, run-on sentences
  • Speech tends to be at a fast rate
  • Include words that aren't needed or difficult to understand
  • Include words that are made-up
  • Unaware of their own language errors and disorganized speech patterns
  • Difficulty with reading and writing
  • Articulation is normal
  • Word finding problems are common

Understanding Speech

In order to understand spoken language your brain has to perform the following jobs:

  • Recognize the sounds as spoken language
  • Hold the spoken sounds in a temporary memory file
  • Separate the speech sounds into individual units (vowels and consonants)
  • Put them in the correct order to create larger sound symbols (words)
  • Apply meaning to each word
  • Apply meaning to the whole group of words (sentences)

This chain of complex actions is carried out by your brain at an incredible speed thousands of times each day.

An interruption in any of the individual tasks it has to perform will cause difficulty when trying to understand spoken language.

Poor Comprehension

An afflicted individual will have difficulty understanding spoken language due to their brains inability to separate individual sounds and put them in the correct order.

For example, they might perceive the phrase, "on the table" as "otablat." This deficit can make normal language sound like meaningless babble or even a foreign language.

However, many people with this language disorder do retain some auditory comprehension. This usually applies to words that are very common and used most often.

They tend to have the most difficulty understanding uncommon words as well as verb tense (brought, chosen, drawn) and prepositions (on, in, at, until).

You can help a person with receptive aphasia somewhat improve their comprehension by speaking slowly. The faster you speak the harder it is for the affected person to separate the sounds and make sense of the message.

Using pauses between words and speaking at a slow rate can also help improve their understanding.

Watch a sample clip of our language exercises on DVD and VHS

Speech Characteristics:

Typical speech patterns include:

  • Lack of any meaning in the spoken message
  • Rhythm, pitch and proper grammar appear unaffected
  • Use of nonwords or made-up words
  • Sentences are spoken with few, if any, pauses

If you hear a person with receptive aphasia speaking, you will immediately realize that the content of their spoken words has little or no meaning.

In contrast, their speech patterns sound normal.

In other words, if you ignore the actual words being spoken, the flow of their speech would sound normal. The rhythm, raising and lowering of voice (pitch/inflection), and grammatical form are mostly present.

Here is an example of what a person with receptive aphasia might
sound like:

"That was just like time for the next week when the bait is going out to the house and looked this plack and I am a lot like that when the shot is made, Ok and the shot make the bloog going home and with the wind it went one way to the water."

As you can see from this example there are several problems with the message:

The first obvious problem is the lack of any meaning. Although it seems that you might be able to piece some of the keywords together to get the gist of what is being said, your attempt would probably fail.

The second problem is that there are words being used (plack and bloog) that were newly created by the speaker.

This is a common problem with the speech of receptive aphasics. These made-up words are called neologisms (nonwords).

The third problem is that the sentence runs on without pauses.

Of course, you can't hear the sentence being spoken, but if you read it out loud right through to the end without any pause you will get an idea of how it would actually sound.

What are Paraphasias?

Patients with Wernicke's aphasia commonly make errors at various levels of the sound system. These sound errors are called paraphasias.

Paraphasia refers to the production of unintended syllables, words, or phrases during the effort to speak (Goodglass & Kaplan, 1983).

There are three types of paraphasias:

  • Phonemic or Literal paraphasias
  • Verbal paraphasias (Semantic and Remote)
  • Neologistic paraphasias

Phonemic paraphasias (also called Literal paraphasias): A nonword or real word that sounds like the intended word, for example; sable for table.

This paraphasia involves the substitution, addition, or rearrangement of speech sounds so that the error can be recognized as sounding like the intended word (Goodglass and Kaplan, 1972).

Examples: cup/cud, cup/tup

Verbal paraphasias: A real word, usually related to the intended word. In other words, a verbal paraphasia is an incorrect word, but it's in the same category as the intended word.

For example; using dog for cat. In this example, the error word (dog) is in the same category as the intended word (cat).

Verbal paraphasias come in two types:

Semantic paraphasias: The spoken word is related to the intended word (as in the example above).

Remote paraphasias: The spoken word is not really related to the intended word (using the word, sit for car).

Remote paraphasias give you a good example of how the brain of a receptive aphasic tries to associate related words.

For example, is the word, sit related to the word, car?

Well, yes and no.

They certainly aren't in the same category, but we can easily see how those two words relate to each other: We have to sit in a car in order to travel in it.

An afflicted person may perceive the word; sit as being the correct word to identify a car. Understanding this word substitution can help when trying to communicate with an individual expressing remote paraphasias.

Neologistic paraphasias: These are nonwords or made-up words. They are not necessarily related to the intended word. These are spoken words which cannot be recognized as having come from the patient's language.

For example: using "blogig" for "door." Keep in mind that these created words will be used by a patient confidently - as if they were using the correct words.

Receptive Aphasia and Awareness

How would you feel if almost every time you spoke to the people around you they didn't understand you? Sometimes they act like they understand you, but you can tell by their body language and facial expression that they are confused.

To add to this frustration is the fact that you are absolutely certain that what you said was perfectly clear, but nobody gets it. It's as if everybody around you lost their intelligence.

How would this make you feel? Angry? Confused? Frustrated?

Well, this is a common occurrence. Why?

Because, they are unaware that their speech makes no sense to those around them.

To these individuals, the speech that they produce sounds perfectly normal.

This lack of awareness can cause emotional stress on both the patient and caregiver. The patient may become increasingly angry and frustrated with the fact that no one is able to understand them.

The caregiver may feel helpless and alienated with constant failed attempts to understand the patient's language.

Family involvement is often very important to the overall treatment of receptive aphasia. The National Aphasia Association provides rehabilitation and support services to assist people with aphasia as well as their family members.

How to Help Improve Communication at Home:

  • Simplify language - use short sentences with basic words
  • Slow down the rate of your speech
  • Use pauses between words
  • Try to eliminate any distractions (like a television or radio)
  • Speak to the person as an adult
  • Include the person in your conversations
  • Try not to correct the person's speech
  • Be patient - give plenty of time for responses
  • Communication comes in many forms: drawing, pointing, gesturing, and writing. Make use of whatever might work

Providing Effective Treatment for Receptive Aphasia

Providing daily speech and language therapy for your loved one is essential to their progress. They require professional drills and exercises to improve their ability to use and understand language.

This will include exercises to improve:

  • Auditory comprehension
  • Word finding skills
  • Knowledge of word meanings
  • Thinking and reasoning skills
  • Verbal expression

Through daily practice your loved one can demonstrate significant improvements in their speech, language, and comprehension skills.

For our visitors, we put together a list of effective speech and language exercises that you can use at home to further improve your communication skills.

For your convenience we put the most effective speech and language exercises necessary for improvement on
one practical source:

Professional Speech and Language Therapy on DVD!

Receptive Aphasia Exercises

Reduce the frustrations of your loved one by providing them with the opportunity to improve their receptive aphasia!

Through a collaboration of certified speech-language pathologists, a series of professional speech and language videos were designed to provide your loved one the opportunity to receive highly effective therapy at home in an easy-to-use, affordable manner.

Start Improving Receptive Aphasia Today with Speech and Language Therapy on DVD!

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