Overview of Broca's Aphasia

Aphasia is the inability to understand speech or to produce fluent and coherent speech. Broca’s aphasia is a type of aphasia characterized by a lack of fluency of speech, usually with preserved language comprehension.

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Aphasia

Aphasia, the loss of language ability, results from a language problem acquired after normal language was already established. It is described as an acquired language deficit, in contrast with developmental language deficits, which prevent a person from developing normal language abilities in the first place. It has been estimated that about one million people in the United States suffer from aphasia. A stroke is among the most common causes of aphasia.

Symptoms

Broca's aphasia, also known as motor aphasia, is a specific speech and language problem. It is characterized by choppy speech and the inability to form complete sentences. If you have been diagnosed with Broca's aphasia, you might notice that your speech lacks normal fluency or rhythm and that you have a hesitant, interrupted speech pattern. One of the characteristics of Broca's aphasia is that language comprehension is often normal or nearly normal.

You may experience the following symptoms if you have Broca's aphasia:

  • Difficulty forming complete sentences
  • Speech that lacks normal rhythm
  • Pausing excessively when trying to speak
  • Omission of pronouns, articles, and conjunctions when speaking
  • Mutism
  • Preserved ability to understand speech, to follow commands, and to read simple words
  • Difficulty writing
  • Impaired ability to read long passages, especially out loud

Causes

Broca's aphasia is the result of damage to a specific language region in the frontal lobe of the brain called Broca's area. It is not a problem with the muscles, the throat, or the mouth.

Broca's area is one of several language areas of the brain. The language areas of the brain are all located near each other in the dominant hemisphere of the brain, which is typically the side opposite a person's dominant hand. Broca's area functions to help you put words together fluently to speak more than one word at a time, forming complete sentences.

Broca’s aphasia, like other types of aphasia, is most common after a stroke affecting Broca's area, but it can result from any of the following conditions as well:

Diagnosis

Aphasia is usually diagnosed during a medical evaluation. If you have aphasia, your medical team will recognize that your pattern of speech is impaired during your evaluation. When your healthcare providers perform detailed and targeted aphasia diagnostic testing, they will ask you to show whether you understand what others are saying, repeat phrases and words, read, write words, and name objects. These tasks help your medical team identify your specific type of aphasia.

You might see a speech-language therapist for a consultation. Expect the speech specialist to carefully examine your speech pattern and the way you form words during the evaluation.

You may also need to have a brain CT or a brain MRI to determine whether you have had a stroke, a brain infection, an injury from head trauma, or a tumor.

Treatment

Some people who have Broca's aphasia experience a degree of recovery without treatment or therapy. Usually, speech exercises and tailored therapy sessions are beneficial because your ability to understand and cooperate is not affected by Broca's aphasia.

Your speech therapist will likely prescribe a recommendation for therapy to improve your ability to speak. Some therapy strategies include listening to a recording of yourself speaking, repeating and rehearsing phrases, and reading out loud.

In addition to speech therapy, you will likely also need treatment for the cause of your aphasia, whether it is a stroke, a brain tumor, an infection, or a head injury.

Caregivers and Aphasia Treatment

Recent treatment guidelines from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association note that aphasia treatments should focus on more than just the speech disability itself. Guidelines recommend that treatment include efforts to maximize quality of life and participation in activities of daily living, and also say that family and other caregivers should be involved in the process. Family members can have a significant impact on creating successful communication exchanges.

A Word From Verywell

One of the hallmarks of Broca's aphasia is that people are still able to understand speech and are typically aware of the problem. While this is frustrating for anyone who is living with Broca's aphasia, this characteristic helps a great deal in terms of recovery.

If you or your loved one has Broca's aphasia, the preserved ability to understand can make it much easier to actively participate in therapy than with other types of aphasia.

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8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  8. Winstein CJ, Stein J, Arena R, et al. Guidelines for adult stroke rehabilitation and recovery: A guideline for healthcare professionals from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association [published correction appears in Stroke. 2017 Feb;48(2):e78] [published correction appears in Stroke. 2017 Dec;48(12 ):e369]. Stroke. 2016;47(6):e98-e169. doi:10.1161/STR.0000000000000098

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