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Aphasia Treatments

Aphasia spelled out in dice with jumbled letters around it.

Aphasia is the inability, or loss of ability, to understand or express words or verbally or nonverbally. There are 3 main types of aphasia treatments: Conventional, Complementary and Alternative. The key differences between the three are whether or not they are covered by insurance and/or the amount of scientific research that has been done in each area. I personally know, however, that each method works. Which one is best for you, I don’t know. Some people will only go to a medical doctor, while others refuse to ever see one. The following information will allow you to choose what is best for you. With this in mind, I made sure to have an integrative team of Brain Health Experts in my practice. We offer various types of services and are very effective in helping people with our aphasia treatments. Choose what is best for you.

Conventional Aphasia Treatments

Speech/Language Pathology

If your neurologist feels aphasia treatments are needed because of the degree of your speech or language impairment, therapy with a speech/language pathologist may be the first step. This type of therapy teaches you to work around your deficits, helps you learn new strategies, stimulates and/or retrains your brain’s speech centers, and tracks the redevelopment of your verbal skills, as needed.

Aphasia Support Groups

There are aphasia support groups throughout the country. Boston University, where I received my doctorate, has an Aphasia Community Group. It is a monthly meeting at Sargent College, Room 102, 635 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA. The coordinator is Jerry Kaplan and the phone number is 617-353-0197. Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) also an aphasia group run by Marge Nichols.


Psychotherapy may be suggested to help you cope with the frustration of feeling misunderstood and/or being unable to express yourself. Family counseling can also be helpful as a way of promoting patience, understanding, and teaching strategies to assist the person with speech related brain injury symptoms from stroke or traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Complementary Aphasia Treatments

Biofeedback and Neurofeedback

Electromyography (EMG) biofeedback can be helpful in improving speech; it teaches you to identify and then recognize individual muscle movements in and around your mouth. In contrast, neurofeedback can help regulate brain frequencies responsible for stuttering, and word finding.


Is used to help with articulation and stuttering and acupuncture by a licensed acupuncturist has been shown to improve speech.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is useful in cognitive and language repair.

Alternative Treatments

There are no set alternative aphasia treatments. However, in some cases, polarity therapy has been known to help stuttering. This hands-on technique should be applied by a trained polarity therapist. The American Polarity Therapy Association can offer you more information.

Practical Suggestions

Both at home and at work, you can become practiced at examining your speech or language problems. Do you seem to struggle the most when you are tired or pressed for time? Are your thoughts disorganized, or does your problem seem to be purely physical? Looking at all aspects of your struggle to communicate can point the way to helpful communication.

At Home

  • Practice synonyms and antonyms to help expand vocabulary.
  • Ask a friend or family member to give you a nudge when you are going off topic or failing to make sense in conversation. A friend can also stand by at social gatherings to give you key words that escape you.
  • Gain a bit of control over stuttering by reading aloud to yourself, using a tape recorder and headphones. Start slowly and gradually increase your speed so that you learn to recognize—and then avoid—the point at which you start to stutter.
  • Consider working with educational cards and board games geared toward English as a Second Language (ESL) books. Contact the special-education department of your local public school system for specific suggestions and other helpful ideas.
  • Watch movies with the sound turned off for practice interpreting gestures, expressions, body movements, and other forms of nonverbal communication.
  • Explore drawing, music, dance, journal-writing, and the theater as ways to help redevelop your language skills. Being inventive can help you think of many activities that stretch your ability to express yourself.
  • If your problem is an expressive one, consider learning American Sign Language as a temporary way of restoring your ability to communicate.
  • Be honest about your problem. This will help you avoid embarrassment and promote patience and understanding in people who might otherwise judge you harshly.

At Work

  • Write out important things to say before you say them.
  • Be honest about your problem. This will help you avoid embarrassment and promote patience and understanding in people who might otherwise judge you harshly.
  • Eliminate distractions in conversations. Your speech will flow more smoothly and you will comprehend more if you talk in a quiet place.
  • Try to visualize a word you can’t think of as if it were written on a chalkboard, or try to hear the word in your head. If you still cannot retrieve the word, describe it or use another.
  • Use a computer to communicate. Helpful software is widely available, including children’s language games and programs and the American Heritage Dictionary’s word-finding feature.
  • Avoid any tendencies of outspokenness for now, and avoid becoming involved in friendly debates. Doing so will save you a great deal of frustration.
  • Try to visualize an elusive word as if it were written on a chalkboard, or try to hear the word in your head. If you still cannot retrieve the word, describe it or substitute another.

Other Suggestions

It is difficult to accept sudden problems with your speech and language, and it is very humbling to have to rely on others to help you communicate. It helps to look at your verbal issues as temporary symptoms rather than a permanent disability. By seeking professional help and family support, developing strategies that work for you, and being realistic about occasional setbacks, you will pave the way for certain improvement of your speech and language skills. Also, in this internet era there are rehabilitation services that proved virtual appointments thanks to advances in speech therapy and teleconferencing software. All that you need is a standard computer with a built in camera and a broadband connection. Many rehabilitation practices alone can limit the patient’s recovery, but interactive software, smartphone apps and patient/team conferencing can be directed toward the goal of supporting inpatient and outpatient rehab for TBI.

In Dr. Diane’s Experience

Before my stroke and my later concussions, I spoke in a rapid-fire fashion and was fond of embellishing my speech with colorful analogies. After, I spoke in a slow, halted manner and sometimes my words were slurred. I struggled to say the words, and I spoke in a deliberate and concrete manner. While this way of speaking has faded over time, I sometimes still choose the wrong word or expression. I also have an on and off word-retrieval problem; so I can picture the object and often can describe its use, yet I can’t think of the correct word.


Because I have lived through the effects of aphasia, I have devoted my life and my practice to helping others like myself. That is why I developed the integrative team of Brain Health Experts in my practice at Dr. Diane® Brain Health. If we can’t help you here, our entire team is committed to helping you find resources in your area. If there are no services in your area, we can provide virtual services with our team.

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Are you ready to relieve the pain and suffering caused by your traumatic brain injury? Contact Dr. Diane and her team of experts today, and get your life back on track.

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Dr. Diane® Roberts Stoler, Ed.D.
7 Hodges Street
N. Andover, MA 01845
Phone: (800) 500-9971
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Dr. Diane is a catalyst for change

Image Credit Elaine Boucher

Within each person shines an inner light that illuminates our path and is the source of hope. Illness, trauma, suffering and grief can diminish the light and shroud hope. I am a catalyst for hope and change, offering a way to rekindle this inner light.

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