Half of adults have never heard of aphasia which affects 350,000 stroke survivors | The Sun

MORE than half of adults have never heard of aphasia – despite it affecting more than a third of stroke survivors.

It is a language and communication disorder which has a profound effect on someone's ability to speak, read, write and/or use numbers.

With 1.3 million stroke survivors in the UK, this means 350,000 experience aphasia after their stroke.

However, a poll of 2,000 adults found 54 per cent have never heard of it, while half of those who are aware are unclear as to what it actually is.

It also emerged 72 per cent of adults wouldn’t feel confident in recognising the effects of aphasia.

And even of those who felt they could, 60 per cent were unable to recognise one of the most common symptoms.


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Juliet Bouverie OBE, chief executive of the Stroke Association, which has also produced a documentary, When the Words Away Went, said: "Aphasia is very common, affecting over a third of stroke survivors.

"So, it’s disheartening to see such low awareness and knowledge of aphasia among the general public.

"Most of us can’t imagine living with aphasia, but it makes everyday tasks like getting on the bus or talking to a friend daunting, made worse by misconceptions that people with aphasia lack intelligence.

"This can often lead to anxiety and depression, feeling excluded from society and difficulties with personal relationships."

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The research also found 71 per cent of adults think being able to speak or communicate well is a sign of intellect, which can cause huge barriers for those with aphasia.

And 20 per cent admit that if they met someone who had problems communicating, they would assume that person had a learning difficulty.

While 28 per cent owned up to judging people too quickly if they notice they are struggling to communicate.

But just four per cent feel very confident in communicating with someone who had aphasia.


'It’s a rare condition'

Aphasia affects more than 350,000 people in the UK.

'It only affects elderly people'

One in four stroke survivors are of working age.

'It affects a person’s intelligence'

People with aphasia know exactly what they want to say, but they can struggle find the right words or get the words out. It can change the way someone communicates NOT their intelligence.

'Aphasia causes memory loss'

Aphasia from stroke doesn’t cause memory loss. However, it can result from neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Huntington's, which affect a person's memory.

'People with aphasia can’t recover'

While there is no cure for aphasia, many have made progress with their ability to speak, read and write and understand numbers – and gain a sense of independence again. However, raising awareness and treating people with kindness, patience and inclusivity – alongside therapy and wider support – will have a huge impact helping people to live their lives.

Other misconceptions around aphasia include 22 per cent believing aphasia only affects someone’s ability to talk, while one in 10 mistakenly think the disorder can’t improve.

However, 73 per cent said they would feel deep frustration if they found it hard to understand written or spoken language, speak, read or write letters and numbers.

More than half (54 per cent) would feel isolated, 43 per cent embarrassed, and 38 per cent would consider it a loss of their identity.

To raise further awareness of aphasia, 51 per cent of those polled, via OnePoll, would like to see it publicised more in the news, while 37 per cent think affected celebrities talking about it could raise its profile.

Juliet added: "We want to encourage everyone to watch our new documentary featuring stories from three inspiring stroke survivors impacted by aphasia, so the public can better understand the condition and become an ally to those affected.

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"Together we can help make the lives of those living with aphasia a little bit easier and provide support and an important reminder that there is hope.

"Aphasia can and does improve, and with the right help people with aphasia can live normal lives."


1. Ask

Face the person when speaking to them.

Speak slowly and clearly, keeping sentences short.

Ask them what helps – for example, that could be drawing or making gestures.

2. Wait

Without interrupting, wait for their reply.

If they seem confused, try repeating your sentence or simply rewording it.

You could try writing down key words, or making key gestures or drawings.

3. Listen

Check whether yes/no responses are reliable, as answers can get mixed up.

A simple thumbs up or down could help.

Don’t pretend to understand when you don’t.

Write down the options, yes, no and ‘I don’t understand’, so they can point to the right answer.

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