Aphasia is a language disorder produced as a result of damage or impaired function in the parts of the brain responsible for expression, comprehension, reading and/or writing. Aphasia can affect any age, but it is more common for it to affect adults, especially over 60 years of age. In Spain, and according to data from the Spanish Society of Neurology (SEN), more than 350,000 people suffer from aphasia and each year about 25,000 new cases occur.
Depending on the brain areas in which the lesion is located and the degree of these lesions, it may have different types of severity and the patient will manifest different language problems. Some people have trouble using words or building sentences, other people may have trouble understanding others, some people may have trouble both speaking and understanding, other people may have trouble reading and writing.
Main causes of aphasia
Aphasia is not a disease, it is a symptom that there has been a brain injury and the causes can be diverse. However, the main causes of aphasia They are: having suffered a stroke, a head injury, an infection (such as encephalitis), a brain tumor, or some type of neurodegenerative disease (such as Parkinson’s or some type of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s or frontotemporal dementia).
If it has been caused by a neurodegenerative disease, which in these cases is called progressive aphasia, the patient will progressively worsen as his disease progresses. Progressive aphasia is therefore the mode of presentation of various neurodegenerative diseasesand unlike other causes that produce aphasia suddenly, in these cases the symptoms begin gradually and the language disorder is the most prominent symptom. Progressive aphasia is commonly associated with either a variant of Alzheimer’s disease or some types of frontotemporal dementia.
frontotemporal dementia is a group of disorders related to degeneration of the frontal or temporal lobes of the brain, including brain tissue associated with speech and language. The primary progressive aphasia, semantic insanity and progressive agrammatic aphasia are the main subtypes of frontotemporal dementia that cause language problems. Among them, the most common is primary progressive aphasia, which is a neurodegenerative syndrome characterized by a progressive deterioration of language. The usual age of onset of primary progressive aphasia is considered to be around 50 to 70 years.
In Spain it is estimated that frontotemporal dementia affects 0.2-0.3% of the population over 65 years of age, of which 20-40% would correspond to cases with primary progressive aphasia. Its approach is symptomatic, that is, it is aimed at controlling the symptoms, since it lacks specific treatment and there is currently no evidence that any treatment can modify the course of the disease. Frontotemporal dementia is the third most common cause of neurodegenerative dementiaafter Alzheimer’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies.