Aphasia vs Apraxia

Young family and Mother is blowing flowers in the air

Aphasia, apraxia of speech and oral apraxia are communication disorders that can result from a stroke. At times, it’s hard to distinguish between them, especially since it’s possible for all three to be present at the same time. Here’s a breakdown of what the terms mean:

Aphasia is impairment in the ability to use or comprehend words.  
It may cause difficulty:

  • Understanding words.
  • Finding the word to express a thought.
  • Understanding grammatical sentences.
  • Reading or writing words or sentences.

Here are some common therapeutic approaches your healthcare provider might suggest. 

Restoring language ability

Words and picture matching are used to encourage understanding of spoken words.

Clues are used to help stimulate your ability to access a word. 


Learning compensating communication methods
Gesturing or writing your words on a notepad can be helpful.

Training conversation partners so they may adjust the way they communicate with persons with aphasia


Apraxia of speech (verbal apraxia) is difficulty initiating and executing voluntary movement patterns necessary to produce speech when there is no paralysis or weakness of speech muscles.

It may cause difficulty:

  • Producing the desired speech sound.
  • Using the correct rhythm and rate of speaking.

Some therapy approaches for apraxia include:

Teaching sound production Repeating sounds over and over and practicing correct movements can help. Lots of practice is required. 
Teaching rhythm and rate
Using a metronome or finger-snapping can help you keep time. 
Providing an alternative or augmentative communication system that requires little or no speaking

Low-tech version of this is pencil and paper! 

High-tech version requires a computer program that produces voice output as you type.

Oral apraxia or nonverbal oral apraxia

This involves difficulty voluntarily moving the muscles of the lips, throat, soft palate and tongue for purposes other than speech, such as smiling or whistling. Because oral apraxia doesn’t affect speech or swallowing, it may not be treated by a speech-language pathologist.

two hands holding onto a walker

Making Rehabilitation Decisions 

We understand that stroke can change the rest of your life in an instant. High-quality rehab will help ensure that you reach your full-potential recovery.