Communication Matters

Aphasia or Primary Progressive Aphasia?

Alicia Verhovitz, M.A., CCC-SLP | Posted on March 20, 2023

Aphasia is a language disorder resulting from an injury to the brain, such as a stroke or head trauma. The outcome of aphasia varies significantly from person to person. The most predictive indicator of long-term recovery is initial aphasia severity, along with the lesion site (location of damage to the brain) and the size of the lesion

Aphasia involves varying degrees of communication difficulties in these areas:

  • Spoken Language Comprehension - otherwise known as “Receptive Language” or “Auditory Comprehension.”
  • Spoken Language Expression - otherwise referred to as “Verbal Communication” or “Expressive Language.”
  • Written Expression - otherwise referred to as Agraphia
  • Reading Comprehension - otherwise referred to as Alexia


Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA) is a neurological syndrome impacting language. PPA differs from aphasia resulting from a stroke or brain injury as it is caused by neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s Disease, Frontotemporal Dementia, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). PPA is caused by deterioration of the brain tissue used for speech production and language. The symptoms of PPA differ from person to person as the symptoms are dependent on which parts of the left hemisphere of the brain are damaged.

PPA involves varying degrees of difficulties in the following areas of communication and cognition:

  • Word finding – feeling “stuck” on a word, having a word on the tip of your tongue, knowing what you want to say but being unable to say it
  • Comprehension – difficulty understanding information from a verbal, written, or other modality 
  • Speech Fluency - the ability to produce speech at a cadence that is, or appears, similar to typical speech although the content is not accurate; or production of speech that is typical in content but slower and more effortful in cadence
  • Memory – difficulty recalling events or information provided or occurring recently, or long ago
  • Reading – Alexia
  • Writing - Agraphia

It is important to note that PPA is different from Alzheimer’s Disease, most individuals diagnosed with PPA continue to maintain independence with self-care, hobbies, and occupation. Individuals with aphasia from a stroke or head injury will often experience improvements over time when accompanied by speech therapy. Individuals with PPA may benefit from using new communication skills provided by a speech-language pathologist, or by augmenting their communication with a speech-generating device.


Therapy for Aphasia and PPA

At CHSC, we take a whole life, personal approach to therapy. We focus on prioritizing the goals of each individual we work with along with their lifestyle. We know that communication is an essential piece to the whole puzzle of each person we interact with. Together, we strategize methods to increase the quality of life and enhance each person’s ability to participate in activities that are important to them. 

We offer individual therapy services to address a variety of difficulties experienced after a stroke or diagnosis of PPA. We focus on building a treatment plan together with the client, their family, and caregivers to enhance their quality of life.

Tags: Language, Communication, Stroke, Caregiving, Brain Injury, talking, Communication Access, Speech therapy, Stroke recovery, Aphasia, Primary Progressive Aphasia



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