Broca's Aphasia

Medial view of the left hemisphere of the human brain
Medial view of the left hemisphere of the human brain. Getty Images/Encyclopaedia Britannica/UIG


Broca’s aphasia, also known as motor aphasia, is the result of damage to the left hemisphere of the frontal lobe, or the front portion, of the brain that is dominant for language. It is characterized by the inability of the patient to form complete sentences in either speech or writing. It has been estimated that more than one million people in the United States suffer from aphasia.

When a stroke injures the frontal lobe, different types of language problems result.

The damage to the frontal lobe can affect the way words are put together to form complete sentences. It is characterized as “non-fluent aphasia” because of the patients struggle to speak more than one word at a time.

Causes of Broca’s Aphasia

Broca’s aphasia is most commonly seen in patients who have had a stroke but can be a result of the following:

  • Stroke
  • Brain tumor
  • Infection
  • Head injury
  • Dementia

Symptoms of Broca’s Aphasia

Patients with Broca’s aphasia have the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty forming complete sentences
  • Omission of all forms of pronouns, articles, and conjunctions
  • Mutism
  • Ability to understand and follow commands
  • Weakness or paralysis on the right side of the body
  • Difficulty writing
  • Impaired reading ability
  • Depression
  • Impaired expression

Diagnosis of Broca’s Aphasia

Aphasia is usually recognized by the physician treating the patient for their injury. Tests are then performs that require the patient to repeat words and phrases to see what can be produced.

If aphasia is suspected, a speech-language pathologist will be consulted for an examination and recommendation for therapy.

Treatment of Broca’s Aphasia

In some cases an individual may recover without treatment. This type of recovery may occur after a transient ischemic attack (TIA). But in most cases, language therapy should be started as soon as possible.

With effective therapy, it is possible that speech output is increased as well as reading and writing skills. The severity of the condition can change to a less severe form with an increase in repetition and comprehension skills.

The location of the injury and the extent of the damage will determine the recovery process. Patients tend to recover language comprehension skills more than skills requiring expression. 

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