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What is Anomic Aphasia?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 30 August 2016
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Anomic aphasia is a rare complication of a brain injury that results in difficulties recalling certain words, especially the names of people and objects. A person can usually describe a certain object in detail, but will get confused when trying to remember what it is called. The severity of the condition and the specific symptoms can vary from patient to patient, but most sufferers have close-to-average reading, listening, writing, and comprehension skills. Treatment for anomic aphasia typically consists of long-term speech therapy and psychological counseling.

A person can potentially develop anomic aphasia or another type of cognitive disorder after suffering a stroke, head trauma from an accident, or in rare cases a severe brain infection. The area of the brain most commonly involved is the left temporal lobe, the center of language comprehension. A lesion or injury on the frontal cortex, brain stem, or parietal lobe may also result in the development of symptoms. Ongoing neuroscience research hopes to pinpoint exactly how and why certain cognitive abilities are affected with particular injuries while others are left intact.

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The biggest problem that most people with anomic aphasia face is communicating their thoughts quickly and effectively. For example, a patient who wants to borrow a pencil might be unable to remember what the object is called, and therefore cannot ask for it directly. Instead he or she may take a long time trying to describing the object. Some people are better at describing thoughts than others because they can recall most words, such as paper, pen, or graphite, but not the main object in mind, the pencil. People with severe anomic aphasia can be at a complete loss for words and resort to hand and body gestures to communicate.

It is often difficult for doctors to predict an accurate prognosis for anomic aphasia. Many people somewhat spontaneously recover their ability to name objects after some time. Others gradually improve their skills with months or years of speech therapy, which involves playing word games, keeping journals, and learning tips from highly-trained therapists. Regular meetings with a psychologist also help many people have an outlet to express frustrations, discuss goals, and find hope for the future.

In some cases, anomic aphasia remains a permanent disability even with extensive treatment efforts. Sufferers depend on earnest support and understanding from friends, family, and coworkers to learn how to fully enjoy life despite the condition. Most people are able to live and work independently as long as they are willing to stay patient and positive.

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burcidi
Post 3

I used to think that anomic aphasia only occurs later in life but I found out in class, that it can even occur to infants prior to birth. If the umbilical cord of the infant becomes compressed and not enough oxygen reaches the brain, it can cause brain damage. So some infants can be born with anomic aphasia.

I think it must be more difficult for infants who have this to improve later in life since they were never able to communicate very well in the beginning.

bear78
Post 2

@fify-- Being patient and understanding, as the article said, is the most important part.

My sister had a stroke several years ago and has anomic aphasia as a result. It's not very severe but she does have trouble communicating, especially with strangers who don't understand her condition.

We communicate at home with gestures and we make notes a lot. I usually jot down words that she has trouble remembering the most on post-it notes and will put them on the fridge. When she has trouble remembering it, she can go and point to it.

We also had a badge made for her that says she is a stroke survivor and has a condition affecting her communication. If

she's out on her own and needs to explain something to someone, she will show her badge first.

If your loved one goes to therapy, you can also speak to the therapist for additional ideas on what you can do to help him or her.

fify
Post 1

What can I do at home as a caretaker to make life easier for someone who suffers from this?

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