Aphasia: Loss of Language, Not Intellect

Aphasia is an acquired disorder of language due to brain damage (stroke, tumor, or some neurodegenerative disorders). Individuals with aphasia may be significantly impaired in communicating with others, but many of them have an intact intellect. The combination of impaired speech and preserved intellect creates one of the most frustrating conditions experienced by individuals with brain damage. Because of their language and speech problems, it is not uncommon for these individuals to be misunderstood, incorrectly perceived as mentally handicapped, or even accused of driving under influence. Moreover, the inability to communicate may extend to loss of literacy, which further contributes to loss of social status and professional opportunities, along with complications like getting lost due to difficulty in reading street names.

Without proper care and attention, these individuals run a high risk of isolation, depression, and a significant drop in the quality of social, professional, and family life. The good news, however, is that many forms of aphasia, like post-stroke aphasia, are conditions that respond to therapy. The human brain has an amazing ability to reconfigure itself. With motivation, willpower, and social support, individuals with aphasia can make substantial progress, gain back many of their lost skills, and in many cases achieve a functional level of communication with their community.

Our research program integrates these individuals in projects that aim to better understand the language problems in post-stroke aphasia and how best to address them. This collaborative effort is critical, as each stroke survivor is unique, and it is only with the inclusion of a large and diverse group that we can better understand the scope and diversity of aphasia syndromes.

Opportunities for Participation in Research

If you are a stroke survivor, or a caregiver of a stroke survivor, and are interested in research related to post-stroke aphasia, you can contact us about participating in research at .

If you are eligible, you will join our database of individuals with post-stroke aphasia, and will be offered the opportunity to participate in research projects that may be suitable for your condition as they become available. Participation in our research projects is completely voluntary, and participants are compensated for their time.

We work closely with other groups and organizations at Carnegie Mellon University and in the Pittsburgh area to promote awareness of aphasia, and to encourage research on the topic. You can check out some of these resources below: