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The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is the leading federal funder of research on aphasia

What is aphasia?      

Aphasia refers to trouble with speaking, understanding speech, or reading or writing as a result of damage to the part of the brain that is responsible for language processing or understanding. It may occur suddenly or over time, depending on the type and location of brain tissue involved. If you have aphasia, you might have problems conveying thoughts when speaking or writing, understanding spoken or printed words, or using the correct names for particular objects, people, places, or events. The type and severity of language dysfunction depends on the precise location and extent of the damaged brain tissue. 

Anyone can acquire aphasia, but it most occurs in middle-aged or older persons. It can have many causes, including:

  • Brain tumor
  • Stroke
  • Infection
  • Inflammation
  • Head injury
  • Dementia

Some people with aphasia recover completely without treatment but rehabilitation and speech therapy should be started as early as possible. To help communicate easier with others, you might try using short words or sentences, or using gestures or drawing pictures to help convey your thoughts. 

Learn About Clinical Trials
Clinical trials are studies that allow us to learn more about disorders and improve care. They can help connect patients with new and upcoming treatment options.

How can I or my loved one help improve care for people with aphasia?

Consider participating in a clinical trial so clinicians and scientists can learn more about aphasia. Clinical research uses human volunteers to help researchers learn more about a disorder and perhaps find better ways to safely detect, treat, or prevent disease.

All types of volunteers are needed—those who are healthy or may have an illness or disease—of all different ages, sexes, races, and ethnicities to ensure that study results apply to as many people as possible, and that treatments will be safe and effective for everyone who will use them.

For information about participating in clinical research visit NIH Clinical Research Trials and You. Learn about clinical trials currently looking for people with aphasia at Clinicaltrials.gov.

Where can I find more information about aphasia?  

The following organization and resources help people living with aphasia and their families, friends, and caregivers:

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
Phone: 301-296-5700 or 800-638-8255

Medline Plus

National Aphasia Association
Phone: 800-922-4622

Order publications from the NINDS Catalog
The NINDS Publication Catalog offers printed materials on neurological disorders for patients, health professionals, and the general public. All materials are free of charge, and a downloadable PDF version is also available for most publications.