Aphasia Follow-up

Updated: Feb 19, 2016
  • Author: Howard S Kirshner, MD; Chief Editor: Jasvinder Chawla, MD, MBA  more...
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Follow-up

Prognosis

The prognosis for life in a patient with aphasia depends on the cause of the aphasia. A left hemisphere glioblastoma may be associated with a very short life expectancy, whereas a minor stroke may have an excellent prognosis. It is the underlying pathology, not the aphasia itself, that determines prognosis.

The prognosis for language recovery varies depending on the size and nature of the lesion and the age and overall health of the patient. Most patients, even elderly ones, experience some recovery in poststroke aphasia, and some recover completely. In general, patients with preserved receptive language functions are better candidates for rehabilitation than are those with impaired comprehension. The potential for functional recovery from primarily expressive aphasia such as Broca’s aphasia after a stroke is excellent. The potential for recovery from a Wernicke aphasia due to a stroke is not as good as that for Broca aphasia, but most of these patients show some recovery. The potential for recovery from aphasia due to an untreatable tumor or neurodegenerative disease is poor.

The prognosis for the patient to become independent is subtly different than that for language recovery. Patients may recover functionally and be able to live independently in spite of having a persisting aphasia, as long as they do not have other concomitant deficits such as the ability to use household tools (apraxia), often related to inferior parietal lobule or frontal involvement or other cognitive deficits.

Although it was once taught that most improvement from aphasia occurs in the first six months after a stroke, most now acknowledge that recovery can occur many months or even years after the initial stroke that caused the impairment. In severe, global aphasia, there may actually be more improvement in the second 6 months after the stroke than in the first 6 months.

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Patient Education

Family members may benefit from education regarding language impairment to care for affected patients.

The National Aphasia Association provides a variety of educational materials.

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