oa South African Family Practice - Aphasia, an acquired language disorder : review

Volume 52, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 2078-6190
  • E-ISSN: 2078-6204



Affecting an estimated one in every 272 South Africans, or 0.37% of the population, aphasia is a neurological condition described as "any disturbance in the comprehension or expression of language caused by a brain lesion".

Despite extensive debate throughout the history of neuropsychology there is no universal agreement on the classification of aphasia subtypes. The original localisationist model attempts to classify aphasia in terms of major characteristics, and then to link these to areas of the brain in which the damage has been caused. These initial two categories, namely fluent and non-fluent aphasia, encompass eight different subtypes of aphasia.
Aphasia occurs mostly in those of middle age and older, with males and females being affected equally. As the general practitioner is likely to have first contact with affected patients, it is important to be aware of aphasia and to diagnose and refer patients in an appropriate and expeditious manner.
In this article we will review the types of aphasia, an approach to its diagnosis, aphasia subtypes, rehabilitation and prognosis.

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