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Aphasia is an impairment of the power to use or comprehend words, usually as a result of damage to the language centers of the brain from stroke or other injury. About 25-40% of stroke survivors acquire aphasia.
Most people with aphasia also have difficulty reading, writing or calculating. Aphasia does not, however, affect intelligence. There are more than 1 million Americans with aphasia in the United States. Aphasia is not well-known, but more people have aphasia than Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy.
Aphasia is not in and of itself, physically disabling. Yet the NAA repeatedly hears comments like the following: " My husband suffered a massive left brain aneurysm at age 56. He was paralyzed on the right side and suffers from aphasia. When asked if he had a choice which would it be - use his arm or communicate you can only guess which he picks."
With shorter hospital stays and increasingly limited third-party reimbursement for speech therapy, fewer stroke survivors with aphasia receive the information and support services they need to help them cope after discharge. In fact, the majority of stroke survivors with aphasia are discharged from the hospital without being told that their condition is called "aphasia," much less that there are community resources that can help them reclaim their quality of life. The NAA was formed in 1987 by Martha Taylor Sarno, MA, MD (hon) to respond to these gaps in the rehabilitation system.