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Understanding aphasia and its link to concussions

On Behalf of | Nov 21, 2022 | Personal Injury |

A concussion, which is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) can have a number of effects on a person’s body and mind. Some resolve within a short time. Others can have long-term consequences. The location of the injury to the brain determines in part how a person is affected by their injury. 

For example, the brain’s left hemisphere is where we process language. An injury to that part of the brain can cause a condition called aphasia. Former Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head over a decade ago at a constituent gathering, still suffers from the condition – among other effects from that shooting.

Aphasia may be temporary or permanent. Sometimes, people respond to one or more types of therapy. In other cases, it can get progressively worse.

The types of aphasia

The two most common types of aphasia are expressive and receptive. With expressive aphasia (and a milder form known as anomic aphasia), people know what they want to say but struggle to find precise words. As former Rep. Giffords says, “The words are right there on the tip of my tongue, but I can’t always get them out.”

Receptive aphasia affects the ability to understand language and recognize words. It can also affect a victim’s ability to read. 

Neither type of aphasia affects people’s intellectual capabilities. However, since we so often equate a person’s language skills with their intelligence, that’s a common misconception. Giffords has expressed how frustrating that is. “Though my cognition — my understanding and intelligence — is unaffected by my aphasia, sometimes that is not clear to new acquaintances because of my speech.”

If you or a loved one has suffered a concussion or other TBI in a fall or other accident that could have been prevented by another person or entity, don’t accept a settlement until you know just how that injury is going to affect your life. It’s wise to seek legal guidance as soon as possible.