Expressive aphasia


You know what you want to say, but you can't find the right words. This is a daily problem for people with expressive aphasia. 
Expressive aphasia involves problems with pronouncing language. With expressive aphasia there are generally no problems with
understanding language.

Expressive aphasia is sometimes called motor aphasia, non-fluent aphasia or 'Broca's aphasia'. This is because the brain area involved in this language problem is called 'Broca' (see below under brain areas). Sometimes you will see the term "dysphasia" instead of aphasia. Usually the same thing is meant. That is why we talk about aphasia on this page for convenience.
NB: after a stroke, expressive and receptive aphasia often occur in combination (mixed aphasia).


Daily problems

Expressive aphasia manifests itself in many different ways and manifests itself differently for everyone.

Below are a number of daily problems that MAY be experienced with expressive aphasia.

  • Slow and halting manner of speaking
  • Little intonation in speech
  • Searching for words or an initial letter / word finding problems
  • The content of a conversation is sometimes telegram style, short and incomplete
  • Difficulty with spelling and grammar
  • Mentioning a certain word while meaning another word
  • Sometimes accidentally mixing up letters in words
  • Accidentally mixing up words within sentences


Tips for expressive aphasia

  • Use tools that can facilitate conversations such as photos, maps, etc.
  • Write things down or make drawings on paper
  • Give yourself time for phone calls or important conversations.
  • Make eye contact
  • (for family and friends) preferably ask a single closed question (i.e. preferably not: “what do you fancy?” but: “Do you want coffee?” (if not, then the follow-up question: “Do you want tea”?)
  • (for family and friends) give the person with aphasia time to complete sentences
  • (for family and friends) be open to different ways of communicating. Sometimes it is easier for the person with aphasia touse hand gestures or to point to things
  • (for family and friends) continue to keep the person with aphasia involved in daily events. Try to involve them in conversations
  • (for family and friends) It is better to say that you did not hear or understand someone correctly than to pretend you did


Brain areas involved in expressive aphasia

Expressive aphasia often occurs with damage or bleeding in the left hemisphere of the brain.

For most people (90%), this is where the language area lies. Expressive aphasia is often thought to involve damage to 'Broca's area' (see picture below). But other areas in the frontal cortex and subcortical areas may also be involved.

            broca's area