Aphasia vs. Apraxia

Updated:Feb 6,2014

Excerpted from "Aphasia v. Apraxia," Stroke Connection Magazine September/October 2003 (Last science update March 2013)

man outsideCommunication disorders that can appear following stroke or other brain injury include aphasia, apraxia of speech and oral apraxia. At times, it may be difficult to identify which of these conditions a survivor is dealing with, particularly since it is possible for all three to be present at the same time.

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

It may cause difficulty:

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

Therapy approaches for aphasia:
        

Restoring language abilityUnderstanding spoken language
Example: Word/picture matching
 Stimulating word finding
Example: Identify features of a target word to cue its name (i.e., size or shape)
Learning compensating communication methodsUsing writing or gestures
 Training conversation partners so they may adjust the way they communicate with persons with aphasia        
       

Apraxia of speech (verbal apraxia) is difficulty initiating and executing voluntary movement patterns necessary to produce speech when there is no paralysis or weakness of speech muscles.

It may cause difficulty:

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

Therapy approaches:

 Teaching sound productionRepeating words
 Instruction on placement of oral structures
 Teaching rhythm and rateUsing a metronome or finger-snapping to keep time
 Prolonging duration of sentences
Providing an alternative or augmentative communication system that requires little or no speakingLow-tech system – Paper and pencil
 High-tech system – Computer program that produces voice output at keystroke

Oral apraxia, also referred to as nonverbal oral apraxia, is difficulty voluntarily moving the muscles of the lips, throat, soft palate and tongue for purposes other than speech, such as smiling or whistling. It may be difficult to carry out commands such as blowing a kiss, opening the mouth or puffing the cheeks. Because oral apraxia doesn’t affect speech or swallowing, it may not be treated by a speech-language pathologist.

Read more Aphasia articles:

        Reading, Writing and Math 

        Maximizing Communication Recovery & Independence

        Tips from people living with aphasia



This content was last reviewed on 03/18/2013.

American Speech-Language Hearing Association

For more information on aphasia, or to find an ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist in your area, visit the American Speech-Language Hearing Association at www.asha.org

Share Your Story

Father and daughter on park bench

Inspire others by sharing your stroke experience with us. The power of your story could help end stroke. Write to us today!