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Aphasia: The Latest Medical Breakthroughs

Wednesday, 09 Mar 2011 11:43 AM

Aphasia is a neurological disorder. It may be caused by brain damage or head injury, stroke, or transient ischemic attack where oxygen supply to the brain is stopped.

Some cases of aphasia may develop gradually due to tumors or infections in the brain. This disorder leads to language problems. An aphasia patient may partially or completely lose language skills. Through treatments for aphasia, these skills can be partially or completely regained. The extent of recovery is based on the extent of damage to the brain, the skills lost, the response to treatments for aphasia, and medication.
The most common aphasia is left hemisphere aphasia. There is rare right hemisphere aphasia wherein if the right side of the brain is injured, patients may have problems with comprehensive expression and face difficulty in joining together several sentences into a paragraph. They may find it difficult to organize the beginning, middle, and end of stories or content.

There is ongoing research to find new treatments for aphasia that can aid in effective brain functioning when combined with learning therapy.

Research is underway to understand the underlying cause for certain symptoms of aphasia. Researchers aim at understanding the language process, and parts of the process that can affect comprehension and expression. This helps in improving the treatments for aphasia. Some studies are utilizing functional magnetic resonance imaging to understand brain injury, brain function, and response system.

The latest medical breakthrough in aphasia treatment is a therapy developed by Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Service, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Birmingham, called Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy.
This new therapy is for people with speech problems. During studies, the patients were made to exercise for eight hours a day for two weeks.
Studies show that the human brain could rewire itself and bypass the areas that were destroyed. Results show that the brain was able to bypass the damaged cells and form new neurological centers that could take over the functions.
This is a landmark in neuroscience. The brain on the damaged side doubles in size and the control area jumps over to the other side of the brain. This research opens up the field for all kinds of other potential brain research for aphasia.
Another important medical breakthrough in treatments for aphasia is practice along with forced verbal communication, which results in improvements of communication performance as opposed to standard neurolingusitcally oriented speech therapy with lower intensity; study results have confirmed these patterns in the test group.

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