每日英語跟讀 Ep.K350: What to know about aphasia, Bruce Willis’ diagnosis
The news that film star Bruce Willis has retired from acting due to aphasia has shone a spotlight on the poorly understood communication disorder.
“Aphasia just means that someone has a problem with language that they weren’t born with,” Hugo Botha, a neurologist at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota explained.
The most common cause is stroke or head injury — and experts stress that while it can affect the production and comprehension of both speech and written words, it normally doesn’t impact intelligence.
最常見的原因是中風或頭部受傷 - 專家強調，雖然它會影響言語和書面文字的產生和理解，但它通常不會影響智力。
It affects some two million Americans, according to the National Aphasia Association, making it more common than Parkinson’s Disease, cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy.
While it’s normally caused by a specific one-time event such as stroke, “there are other possibilities, such as from a neurodegenerative disease,” or a growing tumor, explained Brenda Rapp, a cognitive scientist at Johns Hopkins University.
In such cases the damage is progressive and therapy focuses on preventing further loss of function.
The brain system governing language is a “very complex machine” that involves selecting the right words, moving the mouth appropriately to vocalize them, and on the other end hearing and decoding their meaning, said Rapp.
Everyone occasionally struggles to find the right word, “but you could imagine in aphasia, this happens a lot,” she added.
Doctors sometimes split aphasia into broad clinical categories which correlate to where in the brain injury occurred.
In expressive aphasia, people “usually understand fairly well but have trouble getting words out,” said speech pathologist Brooke Hatfield, of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). The brain is extremely plastic, and speech therapy can engage other parts of it to “bypass the roadblocks” of the damaged areas, and forge new connections, said Rapp.
在表達性失語症中，人們“通常理解得很好，但很難把單詞說出來，”美國言語 - 語言 - 聽力協會（ASHA）的言語病理學家Brooke Hatfield說。Rapp說，大腦的可塑性極強，言語治療可以讓大腦的其他部分參與進來，以「繞過受損區域的障礙」，並建立新的聯繫。
Such therapy also teaches people to talk around the subject if they get stuck on a specific word.
Family members can also develop strategies to make themselves better understood: “Things like shorter sentences, and making sure that you’re talking to the person in full view instead of the other room, and minimizing background noise,” said Botha.
Some people do well with assistive devices because their ability to write isn’t affected in the same way.
Over the horizon, there are experimental treatments that combine electrical stimulation of the brain with speech therapy that have shown promise in recovering function, said Rapp.
In the case of progressive aphasia, developing drugs that target the build up of protein plaques and tangles in the brain that cause neurodegenerative disease are thought to be the way forward.
在進行性失語症的情況下，開發針對導致神經退行性疾病的蛋白質斑塊和纏結在大腦中積聚的藥物被認為是前進的方向。Source article: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/lang/archives/2022/04/12/2003776424