speech therapy

Communication Strategies and Primary Progressive Aphasia

The Capital Gazette had a question about primary progressive aphasia in this week’s Caregiver Corner. The writer expresses frustration that they live far away from their siblings and parents, but they don’t believe the family is doing enough to treat their father’s PPA.

The advice giver gently explains the difference between aphasia brought on from a stroke and the progressive nature of PPA. PPA is a neurological condition. The language loss worsens as brain tissue deteriorates. It is a slow, instead of sudden, decline. The advice giver lets the reader know:

While individuals who develop aphasia as a result of a stroke or head trauma may benefit from speech therapy, those with PPA will not. Some, however, may learn new communication strategies from speech-language pathologists and families may also benefit from strategies learned in aphasia support/community groups.

It’s not the advice anyone wants to hear, but as the columnist points out, there are things people can do to learn new communication strategies.

Communication Strategies

Tactus Therapy points out the major difference between PPA and other forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s: “With PPA, difficulty with language is the first sign, while memory and reasoning are usually not affected in the early stages.”

They give plenty of useful tips including focusing on priority vocabulary. Rather than trying to hold onto all speech, focus on the most important, useful words for the individual. “Practice only what’s important to your client. For example, if the client loves pineapple, then use the word in your program. If they don’t care for or need to talk about pineapple, then leave the word out of treatment.”

In addition, it can be helpful to create “PPA cards,” a card the person can carry in their pocket with an explanation to hand others as well as common phrases they may need to remember while interacting with other people. It’s also helpful to start working early with non-verbal cues and gestures.

Want to learn more about PPA? Watch our brief video for an overview of this neurological condition.

Comments

One Comment

  • Fred Raymond
    March 28, 2019 at 10:38 pm

    My wife was diagnosed with PPA 3 years ago. She also has significant balance issues and has experienced a number of falls. The last two falls resulted in broken hips (first the left, then after rehab and home health therapy, fell again and broke right hip) and partial hip replacements. She has been on a walker for 2 years and her mobility is very limited. Part of her PPA is probably AOS as she appears to fully understand verbal communication from others. But her limited ability to respond is frustrating both to her and to her significant others (principally myself and our son, who assists me in caregiving). Her responses to questions, requiring simply yes or no answers are usually dyslexic(??) in that she will answer “yeah” or “yes” initially when she means “no” and vice versa. I printed out the info on Managing PPA and read it aloud to her and she nodded emphatically that she understood it. Once an avid reader, she doesn’t read books at all now, does a little on her Nook, but admits that she has trouble trying to read. My major concerns are, “does the progression eventually manifest in aspects of Alzheimer-type detioration?” and “what is the time span of progression until she loses language altogether.”

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