If you have experienced a concussion and are now having trouble finding the right words to say, you may have a condition called expressive aphasia.
Expressive aphasia after concussion is actually more common than you might think. Luckily, there are effective ways of treating aphasia and regaining your speech!
This article will break down everything you need to know about expressive aphasia after concussion and how to treat it.
Expressive Aphasia After Concussion
Expressive aphasia (also called Broca’s aphasia or non-fluent aphasia) is a language disorder that affects your ability to produce language.
This is separate from receptive aphasia, which makes it hard for you to understand language.
With expressive aphasia, you know what you want to say, but you just can’t seem to say it.
Expressive aphasia is caused by suffering damage to the left side of the brain, the side that controls language production and comprehension.
While most of the time expressive aphasia occurs after a stroke, it is possible for it to occur after a concussion, especially if the blow was delivered on the left side of your head.
Treating Expressive Aphasia After Concussion
Expressive aphasia, especially after a mild TBI like a concussion, can sometimes resolve itself on its own.
If your aphasia lasts longer than a few days however, you should seek treatment right away. It’s possible your aphasia is a sign of worsening brain damage, so you really should be examined by a doctor before doing anything else.
Once your doctor has examined you and ruled out any serious brain damage that may require surgery, they will probably recommend you start speech-language therapy.
The earlier you begin therapy, the better chances you have of making a full recovery.
Using Speech Therapy to Treat Expressive Aphasia
Treating expressive aphasia after concussion will require one main thing: retraining your brain to control your speech.
The best way to do this is through speech therapy exercises.
Speech therapy exercises are a great way of engaging neuroplasticity, which allows your brain to form new neural pathways.
To get the most results from your exercises, you are going to want to make sure you use lots of repetition, which is the best way to activate neuroplasticity.
And for the best possible chance of regaining your speech, you should make an appointment to see a speech-language pathologist (i.e. a speech therapist).
A speech therapist can give you exercises that are individualized to your specific needs, which will help speed up your recovery. They work with all areas of speech recovery, and can give you the advice and personalized care you need to recover your speech.
Besides speech therapy, there is also another technique that can help you recover from expressive aphasia, called music therapy.
How Singing Therapy Can Treat Expressive Aphasia After Concussion
One of the most promising and exciting treatments for expressive aphasia is singing therapy, formally called Melodic Intonation Therapy.
It was discovered when some speech language pathologists noticed that even when their patients with expressive aphasia could not speak a word, they were still able to sing it.
The reason people can sometimes sing but not speak is because singing engages the right side of the brain, whereas speaking utilizes the left side.
Since most speaking disorders are caused by damage to the left side of the brain, the side that controls singing is left intact!
Singing therapy involves singing simple words or phrases to the tune of familiar melodies. With enough repetition, patients eventually turn their singing speech into normal speech.
What’s more, most patients are able to permanently maintain the improvements that they gain from music therapy. This makes it a very effective way to re-learn how to speak.
If this sounds promising to you, try seeking out a speech therapist trained in music therapy. A combination of speech and singing therapy can really help boost your recovery.
How Long Does Expressive Aphasia After Concussion Last?
There is no exact timeline for determining how long your expressive aphasia may last after your concussion.
As we said above, sometimes aphasia is temporary and you will return to normal speech after only a few days. For some people though, it can last for years, and might even be permanent.
But since there is no way to know for sure how long your aphasia may last, the best thing you can do is start speech or music therapy right away. It may be just what you need to overcome expressive aphasia and speak with confidence again.