RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) — Peter Andrews couldn’t read, write or speak for a year after suffering a stroke. Now he is grateful that he can speak.
“I got lucky,” Andrews said. “Well, I could talk, but I can’t read or write at all,” he said.
Experts say aphasia has different causes and affects people differently.
“Aphasia is a language disorder most commonly seen in patients who have had a stroke or brain injury,” said WakeMed speech-language pathologist Daniel Fenton. “There are also versions of it that can occur in neurodegenerative diseases like dementia.”
Aphasia can affect language comprehension, speaking, reading, or writing in varying degrees of severity.
“It depends on what area of the brain is affected,” Fenton said.
Andrews often finds it difficult to find words. But others cannot speak at all or cannot understand when others speak.
“We have other friends who carry around pen and paper, or one of us who talks to them carries around a dry-erase board so we can write down words because reading may be easier than listening,” said Justine Knight, the executive director of Triangle Aphasia Project, who also happens to be Andrew’s daughter.
The Triangle Aphasia Project is helping people across the state, including Andrews, who was a pilot before his stroke.
“Aphasia doesn’t affect intelligence,” Knight said. “He could still tell you how to fly an airplane perfectly, but he can’t write it down or speak it perfectly.”
Fenton piggybacked Knight and said it’s like having a thought, knowing what to say, but not finding the words.
“It’s like there’s a word on the tip of your tongue and you just can’t get it out … all the time,” Fenton said.
According to Fenton, aphasia that results from stroke or brain injury may improve, but if it results from a neurodegenerative disease, it may progress.
“Speech therapy helps in both cases,” Fenton said. “In the progressive form, it tends to slow it down, and with something like a stroke or brain injury, it often helps them regain a fair bit of function.”
While dealing with aphasia can be incredibly frustrating for many, Andrews said he’s learned to live with it, drawing on a community of others dealing with similar issues. He regularly calls other friends with aphasia, although some are unable to speak to him.
“I’m not upset,” he said.
Click here to learn more about the Triangle Aphasia Project here.
https://www.cbs17.com/news/local-news/wake-county-news/what-is-aphasia-after-bruce-willis-diagnosis-raleigh-man-describes-living-with-aphasia/ What is aphasia? After being diagnosed by Bruce Willis, Raleigh Man describes living with aphasia