Aphasia vs Apraxia

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.


Aphasia is impairment in the ability to use or comprehend words.

Aphasia may cause difficulty:

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

Common therapeutic approaches your health care professional 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 or verbal apraxia is the difficulty initiating and executing voluntary movement patterns necessary to produce speech when there is no paralysis or weakness of speech muscles.

Apraxia may cause difficulty:

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

Therapy approaches for apraxia may 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.

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.