Aphasia Diagnosis and Treatment Options


Aphasia is typically first recognized by the health care professional who treats you and performs a physical and neurologic exam.

If you have any changes in communicating or understanding others, ask your doctor for a referral to a speech-language pathologist (SLP). SLPs work with people of all ages and treat communication and swallowing problems.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scan can be used to confirm brain injury and to identify its location.

You will also be evaluated for your ability to understand and speak. This includes answering questions, naming items, holding a conversation, following instructions and reading and writing.

Treatment Options

Aphasia therapy aims to improve your ability to communicate by using your current language abilities, restoring lost language abilities and learning other ways of communicating. Stay positive and keep in mind:

There are no medications for aphasia. However, there are therapy activities that can help you get better so you can participate in the things you like to do.

Tremendous improvements to your language and communication abilities can take place in the first few months. In many cases, some aphasia remains following the early recovery time. But research shows that language and communication abilities can continue to improve for many years — so don’t ever give up!

Constraint-Induced Aphasia Therapy (CIAT)

Constraint-induced aphasia therapy (CIAT) is a noninvasive treatment approach for aphasia. Since its development in 2001 it has continued to receive a lot of attention. Based on research studies conducted, it has shown to be effective for:

  • improving language performance with regard to naming,
  • comprehension,
  • repetition,
  • written language, and
  • oral language.

This speech therapy requires the person with aphasia to communicate only by speaking. This intense form of treatment doesn’t allow any other means of communication, such as gesturing, drawing, or writing. It is typically used with individuals who do have some functional verbal speech. If this technique is used with individuals with severe impairments who don’t have any verbal speech, it might cause a lot of frustration.

Due to some inconsistent study results and need for more evidence, further research and evaluation of this therapy are needed.

Stay Informed

As you hear about new products or treatments it can be difficult to know what’s right for you or your loved one. It’s always good idea to ask questions. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) provides a list of questions to guide you in evaluating new products or technologies.

Questions to ask about new products or treatments before deciding what to do.