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An acquired language difficulty, also known as an aphasia, can affect your understanding of language (receptive language), and/or your use of spoken language (expressive language). Many people have aphasia after a stroke, but it can be the result of any brain injury, including traumatic brain injury, a brain tumor, or an infection of the brain.

If you are experiencing difficulties with spoken language, you may be experiencing the following communication challenges:

  • Leaving out specific words in a sentence.

  • Having difficulty thinking of a word you want to say.

  • Saying one or two words at a time.

  • Having difficulty spelling words.

  • Having difficulty putting words together to make a sentence.


You might also be experiencing challenges understanding language which can show up as the following:

  • Inability to follow directions (e.g., get your pen and a book and come sit down).

  • Difficulties understanding what you are reading.

  • Saying nonsense words and not knowing that your friends or family members can’t understand them.

  • Needing information repeated.

  • Having difficulties following a conversation.

  • Needing a visual or tactile (touch) cue to help you understand.


It is important to remember that not one stroke or brain injury is the same as another. Each person’s situation is unique. A thorough assessment is therefore key in developing specific treatment goals that are functional, realistic, and will contribute to your overall quality of life.

What does an aphasia assessment look like?


Detailed case history: During your assessment we will complete a detailed case history, including your current medical status as well as medical history, education, occupation, cultural background, and your report of the challenges and areas that you have overcome so far. We will explore your communication difficulties and how they are impacting you and your loved ones. 

Oral motor examination: We will ask you to do different movements with your tongue, lips, and jaw to determine whether there is a motor-based impairment, also known as apraxia.


Language assessment: We will do a complete assessment of your expressive and receptive language skills, including spoken and written language.


Consultation: We will consult with other health practitioners involved in your recovery to ensure we work collaboratively in achieving your goals.


What does therapy look like?


Treatment can vary from one individual to another, depending on the type of aphasia, your specific areas of concern, what your daily activities include and the people you interact with on a day-to-day basis. Therapy can focus on improving or working towards recovery of impairment in specific areas or it can be aimed at providing you with ways to compensate for the difficulties you are having. Sometimes therapy might include the use of an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) system such as the use of an iPad, picture communication system using symbols or pictures, or a speech generating device. Therapy will be tailored to your individual situation and needs.

Further reading


Aphasia (Post-Stroke): Services
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