Aphasia is an acquired disorder of language. It often occurs suddenly following a stroke or head trauma, but it can also have a more gradual onset if caused by a tumor or a degenerative process.
Aphasia can affect one’s ability to talk, read, write, and/or understand spoken language. It does not, however, impact one’s intelligence. While individuals with aphasia may require varying degrees of assistance with tasks that involve language, their cognition is otherwise preserved and they are often able to continue to perform many activities of daily living independently.
There are several types of aphasia. Some individuals with aphasia have relatively strong comprehension, but struggle to retrieve words and put sentences together. Others produce fluent verbal output, but experience comprehension breakdowns. In some cases, all modalities of language are equally involved.
Language therapy has proven to be effective for all types of aphasia. At the Northwestern University Speech, Language, and Learning Clinic, aphasia treatment is offered in both individual and group treatment formats. Following an initial evaluation and/or consultation with a clinical instructor, a client may enroll in individual therapy, group therapy, or a combination of both.
One-on-one therapy is customized to suit each client's current communication needs. We seek input from our clients and families in order to develop the most functional goals, compensatory strategies, and/or augmentative communication tools. Our clients' goals range from multi-modal expression of basic needs and ideas to high-level word retrieval, reading comprehension, and writing skills aimed at full community reintegration.
The Clinic offers a variety of aphasia groups. The groups consist of clients with similar skill sets, and are kept small to ensure that each client receives ample individual attention and practice opportunities.
We also offer an intensive aphasia program, which involves a combination of individual therapy, group therapy and supervised independent therapy. This four-week program is offered year round. For information, visit Northwestern University Aphasia Institute's Intensive Aphasia Program.
Visit the Aphasia and Neurolinguistic Research Laboratory for: aphasia FAQs, support group, and research participation opportunities.
Two diagnostic tests for aphasia, developed at Northwestern University by Cynthia K. Thompson and colleagues, are now published and available to researchers and clinicians everywhere. The Northwestern Assessment of Verbs and Sentences (NAVS) assesses verb argument structure production as well as verb and complex sentence comprehension and production and is an essential tool for diagnosing agrammatism (available at flintbox.com/public/project/9299/). The Northwestern Anagram Test (NAT), co-authored with Drs. Saundra Weintraub and M-Marsel Mesulam, is a valuable counterpart of the NAVS that assesses nonverbal production of simple and complex sentences when severe motor speech, word retrieval, and/or working memory deficits impede accurate assessment of verbal sentence production (available at flintbox.com/public/project/19927/).