Open a PDF version to print this topic

HealthInfo Canterbury

About aphasia

What is aphasia?

Aphasia (pronounced a-fay-zee-a) is a language disorder. It affects your ability to communicate with others.

If you have aphasia you may find it hard to:

Man with question mark illustration



Use numbers and do calculations



Man with ballpoint illustration


Confusion illustration

Understand what other
people say

It can be hard to understand messages and get your messages out.

You still know what you think and how you feel but may find it hard to describe this with words. You can still hear and see.

What causes aphasia?

Letters in head illustrationAphasia is caused by damage to the language centre of the brain. This is usually in the left side of the brain.

You may have had:

Are there different types of aphasia?

Yes. Aphasia is highly variable. It depends on the damage to the brain.

What is communication?

Communication is interacting with another person, having a conversation, and sharing your thoughts, wants, needs, opinions, and ideas.

We need to communicate to make and sustain relationships and take part in life activities. Communication is not just about talking.

It also involves:

Man will pencil illustration

Writing and drawing

Thumbs up figure

Gestures and tone of voice

Smiling 3D Man Illustrations

Facial expressions

Pointing Man illustration

Pointing to pictures

On the next page: Finding and recalling words

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

Written by speech-language therapists, Canterbury DHB. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed December 2016.


See also:

Brain injury

Images from, by Master Isolated, Danilo Rizzuti, David Castillo, Stuart Miles, Luigi Diamanti and Boians Cho Joo Young.

Page reference: 78064

Review key: HISCD-79694