Toronto: Only two of 100 people are aware of aphasia - a condition characterised either by partial or total loss of speech or the capacity to write. It affects a third of stroke victims, a Canadian study says.
Aphasia occurs when there is stroke damage to language and communication centres in the brain. It does not affect intelligence but can leave people unable to express themselves, find their words and respond when spoken to.
Thirty community volunteers trained by the York-Durham Aphasia Centre, a March of Dimes Canada programme, collaborated with researchers from two Ontario universities in a survey of 832 adults in southern Ontario.
They found that only two percent of respondents could correctly identify aphasia as a communication disorder affecting the ability to speak, understand, read or write, according to a statement of York-Durham Aphasia Centre.
"Aphasia is poorly understood," says neurologist Michael Hill, co-chairman of the Canadian Stroke Congress. "The sudden loss of language after a stroke creates huge challenges for individuals and their families." As many as 100,000 Canadians are living with chronic aphasia.
"About one third of all people who have strokes experience some degree of aphasia but despite this high prevalence, it just doesn`t get much attention," says Rick Berry, project coordinator, who worked with clinical coordinator and speech-language pathologist Ruth Patterson on the survey.
"We wanted to gather some Canadian data to compare with surveys that have been done in other countries," adds Berry.
These findings were presented at the Canadian Stroke Congress.