The brain is an extremely complex organ that we depend on for memory, cognition, motor skills, breathing, sensory perception, language and more. That’s why traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can affect people in very different ways.
Just how serious those effects are and how long they last depend on what part of the brain is injured and how seriously. One potential long-term effect of a TBI is something called aphasia. It can be temporary or permanent. Sometimes the signs show up immediately after the injury. In other cases, they don’t become obvious until later.
Why it affects language and communication skills
The condition has gotten more attention since Bruce Willis’ family announced earlier this year that the actor – who is known in large part for his action movies – is suffering from the condition.
Aphasia can also be caused by a stroke or other conditions. However, when the left hemisphere of the brain is injured, a person’s communication and language skills can be drastically impacted. Former congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head at a constituent event back in 2011, suffers from aphasia in addition to other issues resulting from the injury.
So how does having aphasia affect someone? It depends on what kind of aphasia they have. People with receptive aphasia can have trouble recognizing words. Those with expressive aphasia can have difficulty finding the words they’re looking for. Giffords, who suffers from the latter, says, “The words are right there on the tip of my tongue, but I can’t always get them out.” While it might appear that someone with aphasia has cognitive issues, the problem is really with language.
Can aphasia be treated?
While aphasia can get worse over time, some people respond well to various types of therapy that help them recover their language skills. The sooner the condition can be identified and the appropriate type(s) of therapy can begin, the better the odds can be of making a substantial recovery.
That’s just one reason why someone who suffers a head injury – even one that appears to be minor – should seek medical treatment so that the appropriate diagnostic tests can be performed. If you suffered a TBI as the result of an at-fault driver, it’s crucial not to accept a settlement until you know the full extent of your injuries and the expenses and financial losses. Having legal guidance can help you get the compensation you deserve.