Aphasia can occur in about one third of stroke survivors

A poster campaign has been launched in South Tipperary to create awareness of Aphasia, a communication disability, usually caused by stroke.

A poster campaign has been launched in South Tipperary to create awareness of Aphasia, a communication disability, usually caused by stroke.

The poster was developed by senior speech and language therapists Yolane Fenton and Mairead Foley, in association with community development leader Anne Bradshaw and the South Tipperary Gold Star Disability initiative.

The poster highlights ways that members of the public can make contact with services to help address a problem.

Speaking at the launch, speech and language therapists explained: “Aphasia is a communication disability which occurs when the communication centres of the brain are damaged. It is usually caused by stroke but can be caused by brain injury or brain tumour. The severity varies from person to person but usually understanding, speaking, reading and writing are all affected to some degree. It can change over time and does not affect intelligence. Every person experiences it differently and it can affect the ability to participate in daily activities, for example, answering the phone, watching television, ordering in a restaurant, shopping, working and having a conversation. The ability to communicate is central to all that we do, to who we are, how we learn and how we relate to each other at home, at school and at work. When a person loses the ability to communicate with others it affects all aspects of their life.”

Aphasia is more common than you might think. About a third of people who have a stroke will have aphasia. While you may not have heard of aphasia, you probably know someone who has it. Unlike other physical disabilities, aphasia is a hidden disability which makes it more difficult for people in the community to understand.

“Living with aphasia brings lots of new challenges and can lead to feelings of isolation, problems with relationships, lack of confidence, unemployment, embarrassment and a different way of life.  It is hoped that by improving community awareness people with aphasia will be able to participate more in daily living and reconnect with life,” they said.

Also speaking at the launch was former president of Muintir na Tire, Martin Quinn from Tipperary Town, who shared his experience of living with communication impairment following a stroke. Martin emphasised how greater public awareness of the communication impairment associated with stroke can prompt early referral for help.

The launch was also addressed by Conor Devlin, who shared his experience of recovering from acquired communication impairment following a brain injury. Conor advocates for the specialist needs of younger persons aged 13 – 17 years with brain injury.

Speech and language therapists are communication specialists involved in the assessment, diagnosis and therapy of people with communication difficulties.

For more information, please contact HSE South, Speech and Language Therapy Department on (052) 61 77281.