Causes and Diagnoses

Causes and Diagnoses of Aphasia

Aphasia is caused by damage to the left, language-dominant side of your brain and is one of the most common side effects of stroke. Other causes can include:

  • Brain tumor
  • Dementia
  • Head injury
  • Infection

Currently, researchers are unsure if aphasia causes the complete loss of language structure, or if it causes difficulties in how language is accessed and used.

Diagnoses and testing

A physician, often a neurologist, is most likely to diagnose aphasia, particularly following a stroke. The diagnosis can be confirmed by performing tests that require you to:

  • Answer questions
  • Follow commands
  • Have a conversation
  • Name objects

In many cases, your physician may refer you to a speech pathologist, who will do a comprehensive examination of your ability to:

  • Speak
  • Express ideas
  • Converse socially
  • Understand language
  • Read and write

Imaging procedures

Your physician may also request a CT scan, MRI or PET Scan to look closer at the damage to your brain to confirm a diagnosis and determine the best course of treatment.

If someone you love develops aphasia due to stroke or another brain injury, Northwestern Medicine is home to specialists who can diagnose the condition and provide the treatment and support you need.


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