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.

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