Treating Anomic Aphasia with Speech Therapy
Anomic aphasia presents as an inability to consistently produce the appropriate words for things a person wishes to talk about. This is particularly evident when the individual requires a noun or a verb. The disorder is known by several names, including amnesic aphasia, dysnomia, and nominal aphasia.
Typically, the patient will have fluent speech that is grammatically correct. However, their speech will be filled with vague words such as “thing” and a constant attempt to find the words which will accurately describe the word they want to use. Many people will describe this as feeling as though the word is on the tip of the tongue, a feeling most people occasionally experience. Individuals suffering from anomic aphasia feel this on a regular basis. These patients usually have no difficulty reading or understanding speech and are even able to accurately repeat sentences and words. The difficulty lies in finding words to express their own thoughts, whether verbally or in writing.
There are three components for obtaining the most accurate diagnosis of anomic aphasia; hearing, verbal, and imaging tests. The hearing test is used to rule out a hearing deficit that might be impacting their communication skills. The verbal test is used to determine if there is a speech disorder, and if so if it is impacting comprehension or the production of speech. An imaging test uses MRI technology to determine if there are brain lesions or deterioration. Using only one of the above testing methods can lead to false positives as well as false negatives.
Anomic Aphasia Causes
While the main cause of anomic aphasia is not known exactly, researchers may have found several factors that can contribute to this specific form of Aphasia. One connection that has been made is that people who have damage to the left hemisphere of their brain are more likely to have anomic aphasia. There is still a debate on what area specifically in the left hemisphere is the main cause. Genetic variations are also thought to be another cause of anomia.
Anomic Aphasia Treatment
Unfortunately, it is not currently possible to cure anomic aphasia. Patients suffering from this condition will require long-term therapy and intervention if they are to make progress and retain what progress they do make. The most promising treatments include increasing the ability to recall the words for nouns. This is done by repeatedly showing the patient an image of the object and offering praise when they recall the word. Alternatively, an image can be shown surrounded by words associated with it. Done regularly this has been shown to increase word retention, although once treatment ends patients tend to revert back to pre-intervention word retrieval levels.
With the popularity of smartphones and tablets, options for patients with anomic aphasia are rapidly increasing. There are numerous companies and individual apps specializing in making communication easier for patients with different forms of aphasia, including the Aphasia Company, Assistive Ware, and Tapgram.