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Wernicke’s aphasia, comprehension aphasia or sensory aphasia

The Aphasia Wernicke , also called comprehension or sensory , like all aphasia constitute a neurological condition -trastorno- in oral language. This type of disorder is characterized by the impairment of conversational language , at the level of understanding, but does not interfere with the  intelligence of each individual.

The name of this  aphasia was designated in honor of the German neurologist and psychiatrist Carl Wernicke, who discovered that this condition was generated by damage to a left posterior temporal area of ​​the brain, which also received his name – Wernicke’s area.

People with Wernicke’s aphasia have a lesion in the left hemisphere , in Wernicke’s quadrilateral, at the end of the temporal gyrus.

People with this type of aphasia have increased verbal flow, which is why it is a fluent aphasia (being the prototype of this type of aphasia) and they are commonly considered verbose . They may not realize that they are using the wrong or non-existent words and are often not fully aware that what they are saying is meaningless.

Causes of Wernicke’s aphasia

Wernicke’s aphasia occurs when the left posterior temporal area of ​​the brain – an area associated with the understanding and development of language – is damaged . Damage in this area implies that the subject can produce phrases that sound fluent – unlike Broca’s aphasia where the subject cannot produce phrases – but are meaningless.

Stroke is one of the most common causes of Wernicke’s aphasia. This occurs because, in these cases, the blood flow to Wernicke’s area is stopped or noticeably decreased, which causes the death of the cells in that area.

Other common causes of Wernicke’s aphasia are: brain trauma, neurological conditions – such as Alzheimer’s – that affect memory, brain tumor, brain infection.

Symptoms of Wernicke’s aphasia

People with Wernicke’s aphasia are not always aware that the words they are producing are incorrect and meaningless. Some of the symptoms that people with Wernicke’s aphasia experience are:

  • They speak with abundant neologisms (made up words).
  •  They present selection anomies (language disorder that makes it impossible for the subject to call things by their name).
  • They understand very simple commands to a limited extent and their speech is unintelligible at times.
  • They may have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • They present semantic paraphasias (they replace the word to be used by another word that belongs to the same semantic field, for example saying “door” when meaning “window”).
  • They present parapragmatisms (errors in the conjugation of verbs; for example “She fell from the bed”)
  • They have logorrhea (verbiage)
  • They habitually use catchphrases (such as: “What was I going to say?”, “What am I going to do?”).
  • They have a profound deficit in understanding language, even for single words or simple sentences.
  • The  automatic language is also preserved, since they can only sing songs from their childhood, for example.
  • They can be euphoric, overexcited, and not depressed.
  • Many times they can get carried away by anger .
  • The prosody in some cases also has alterations. They repeat things badly, read and write badly.
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How is Wernicke’s aphasia diagnosed?

To diagnose this type of aphasia, the specialist must investigate the patient and follow a series of stipulated guidelines for the diagnosis of aphasia.

Physical examination: the specialist will likely perform a physical and neurological examination, in which he will assess the strength, sensitivity, and reflexes of the patient.

Neurological examination: the specialist will request an imaging test. MRI is generally used to quickly identify the cause of aphasia.

Language assessment: the patient is subjected to informal tests and observations to assess their linguistic ability, for example, naming objects, writing, having a conversation, answering questions about something read or heard -to assess comprehension-, repeating sentences or single words and read.

Treatment of Wernicke’s aphasia

The treatment of aphasias varies according to the degree of severity that the patient presents. Wernicke’s aphasia can vary from mild to severe  depending on the area of ​​the brain that has been damaged.

A mild aphasia can present a delayed recovery of names, unlike severe aphasia that can make it impossible for the subject to communicate.  Since not all aphasias present in the same way, the treatments for these are varied.

Those who are in charge of treating these types of disorders are called Speech Therapists. They specialize in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of speech and language disorders.

Speech and speech pathologists create therapeutic programs with language-based assessments and activities for patients with Wernicke’s aphasia among other language disorders.

Speech therapy is one of the most widely used and most successful treatments today to help treat this type of language disorder.

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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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