Mary Holder, speech-language pathologist
Mary Holder, speech-language pathologist at IU Health North

IU Health Spotlight: Aphasia Awareness Month and How Speech Therapy Can Help

IU Health Spotlight is sponsored by IU Health and IU Health North Hospital. 

Aphasia, a language disorder often resulting from stroke or brain injury, impairs an individual’s ability to communicate effectively. June is National Aphasia Awareness Month, an annual recognition to help educate the public. Speech therapy stands as a pivotal tool in aiding aphasia recovery, focusing on reestablishing and enhancing communication abilities.

Understanding aphasia

Aphasia affects language comprehension, expression, reading and writing. Its severity varies, ranging from mild difficulty finding words to complete loss of language abilities. This condition can be frustrating and isolating for individuals, impacting their social interactions and daily life.

The role of speech therapy

Speech therapy is tailored to the unique needs of individuals with aphasia. Therapists employ various techniques and exercises. Language recovery helps you relearn and regain language skills through evidence-based techniques targeting speaking, listening, reading and writing. Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) introduces tools like communication boards, gestures or technology-based speech generating devices to aid communication when verbal communication is challenging. Your therapist may try to help improve comprehension by enhancing understanding of spoken and written language, enabling you to follow conversations and instructions. They may also focus on practical communication in daily activities, emphasizing strategies to convey needs and ideas effectively.

Some techniques your therapist may use include:

  • Word retrieval exercises: Engaging activities to assist in recalling words and phrases
  • Role-playing and conversational practice: Simulating real-life scenarios to improve communication skills in various settings
  • Reading and writing tasks: Exercises to regain or improve reading comprehension and writing abilities

Benefits of speech therapy

With time, speech therapy helps individuals regain and enhance their ability to communicate, boosting confidence and reducing frustration. Better communication skills facilitate participation in social activities and relationships, leading to a more fulfilling life. Learning new communication strategies also empowers individuals to express themselves and engage more actively in daily life.

The journey of aphasia recovery

Recovery from aphasia is often gradual and varies from person to person. Consistency and patience are key. Speech therapy is an ongoing process, and progress may continue over months or even years.
Support from family, friends and caregivers is invaluable. Patience, encouragement and practicing communication strategies learned in therapy contribute significantly to an individual’s recovery journey.

Speech therapy plays a vital role in helping individuals with aphasia regain and strengthen their communication abilities. By tailoring approaches to individual needs and focusing on practical communication skills, speech therapy empowers individuals to navigate their world with increased confidence and independence. For more information, visit and search “speech therapy.”

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