Broca aphasia: “Non-fluent aphasia”

You can read about the Broca area in the Broca area

How a stroke causes the Broca aphasia

A full-blown stroke blocks the brain’s blood supply. When it happens inside the anterior branch of the middle cerebral artery, the brain cells in the Broca area deprive of oxygen and nutrients. As a result, they begin to die each passing second at a rate of about 32,000 neurons per second!. The final result is this particular speech problem.

What really happens here?

Do you remember Paul Broca’s first patient? – Mr Leborgne who was named “Monsieur tan”? He managed to talk only one word – “tan”. However, as in the case of “monsieur tan”, those with Broca aphasia do not lose speech completely; they can speak a few meaningful words at a time. And, they can read and understand too. This is completely different from Wernicke’s aphasia.

Read about Wernicke’s aphasia.

Let us find out what those living with Broca aphasia can and cannot – or have difficulty with – do. These problems become more pronounced when the block happens on the left side of the brain. First, we start with what they can do.

What those living with Broca aphasia can do

  • They can hear.
  • They can read.
  • They can understand simple – not complex – instructions.

What they cannot (or are difficult) to do  

  • Talk only less than 4 – 5 words at a time
  • They can talk simulating telegraphic speech.
  • The sentences lack grammatical sense – both in talking and writing.
  • Use nouns without verbs.
  • Have difficulty in repeating.
  • Can’t respond to complex instructions: for example, touch nose after touching toes.

Do you want to know what Broca’s aphasia looks like? Watch this YouTube video.

What is the usefulness of knowing these things?

  • Knowing different types of stroke aphasia helps stroke carers to create communication methods with their loved ones.
  • What they can or cannot do within a few days after the stroke helps to predict the area/s of the brain affected, where neurons are dying as highlighted in the paper authored by Elisa Oschfeld et al.
  • The brains of many with Broca’s aphasia do not allow them to live with those problems long; recovery can be immediate due to the restoration of blood flow as shown by Cameron Davis and their research team.
  • Or else, it may happen later possibly due to the execution of the brain’s plan B – reorganizing adjacent neurons to take over the dead neurons’ job as speculated in the paper authored by Elisa Oschfeld et al..

Author: Ed Jerard

Research analyst and health promoter in Canada

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