Frequently asked questions

Discover answers to commonly asked questions about aphasia and stroke. If you have any additional questions please contact us.


What is a stroke?

A stroke happens when the blood supply to an area of the brain is interrupted or blocked. This commonly occurs by two types of stroke (ischaemic or haemorrhagic), but there are others. A blockage in a blood vessel in the brain results in an ischaemic stroke. A leakage or burst artery in the brain causes a haemorrhagic stroke. Both stop areas of the brain from receiving its blood supply and therefore not enough oxygen or nutrients reach the brain tissue needed to survive.

What are the symptoms of stroke?

FASTThe symptoms and effects of stroke are different depending on what part of the brain is affected and the size of the damaged area.

Common signs of stroke include:

  • facial weakness
  • changes to speech
  • arm weakness.

The Stroke Foundation recommends the F.A.S.T. test to remember the most common signs.

F – Face: has their face drooped?

A – Arms: can they lift both arms?

S – Speech: is their speech slurred and do they understand you?

T – Time: time is critical.

Other signs of a stroke are:

  • weakness, numbness, or paralysis of the face
  • weakness, numbness, or paralysis of the arms or legs on either or both sides of the body
  • dizziness, loss of balance, or an unexplained fall
  • loss of vision, sudden blurring, or decreased vision in one or both eyes
  • a headache with usually severe and abrupt onset
  • difficulty swallowing.

What are the effects of stroke?

Every stroke is different. The effects of stroke are different depending on what part of the brain is affected and the size of the damaged area.

Each person will be impacted by a stroke in different ways. Several factors can contribute to the effects of a stroke and recovery.

These include:

  • type of stroke
  • location of stroke and which area is damaged
  • size of the stroke and amount of brain tissue damaged
  • general overall health before the stroke
  • general level of activity before the stroke

The brain is divided into areas that control different functions.

These functions include:

  • physical movement
  • balance
  • processing of sensory information (such as touch, sight, sound and smell)
  • thinking
  • language.

Each of these areas are supplied by different arteries. This means the location of a stroke will determine which of these functions is affected and to what extent.

The brain is divided into two halves. The left hemisphere controls most of the functions on the right side of the body. The right hemisphere controls most functions on the left side of the body. The impacts of stroke can often affect one side of the body, but it depends on the location of the area of the brain damage.

Difficulties after stroke

People may experience the following changes after a stroke:

  • weakness of the arms or legs on one side of the body
  • difficulties controlling movements and coordination of limbs
  • difficulties swallowing saliva, food, and/or fluids
  • problems with thinking and memory
  • problems understanding speech or written information
  • problems speaking or writing
  • changes in personality and behaviour
  • difficulties receiving sensory information, such as smell, touch, taste, hearing
  • changes to vision, such as blurred vision or vision loss
  • fatigue
  • incontinence.

How do I find out more information about stroke?

The following sites provide additional information about stroke.

National stroke associations

International stroke associations

How can I be involved in research?

Learn more about our current research participation opportunities.


What is aphasia?

Aphasia is an acquired communication disorder that is caused by brain injury, most commonly stroke. In most people, areas of the left side of the brain control functions of language, such as speaking, reading, writing, and understanding spoken language. Aphasia impacts all forms of communication including the ability to understand and use language.

After a stroke, people with aphasia may have difficulty:

  • speaking (expressive aphasia)
  • understanding what other people are saying (receptive aphasia)
  • reading
  • writing
  • understanding and using numbers (such as telling the time, dealing with money).

Aphasia does not impact a person’s intelligence. People with aphasia are able to make decisions and participate in activities if the language processing problems can be overcome through supported communication strategies. It is difficult to predict if the communication problems will improve or how long recovery will take, as everyone is different and our evidence about recovery is still very limited.

Wernicke’s aphasia

People with Wernicke’s aphasia often have profound difficulties understanding spoken language; reading and writing.  The ease and production of connected speech is not very affected (‘fluent’). However, often what is said doesn’t make a lot of sense and there can be use of non-real words in sentences.

Broca’s aphasia

People with Broca’s aphasia often have strengths in understanding spoken language but impaired and effortful production of speech (‘non-fluent’). The person may be able to produce very short phrases or only 1 or 2 words at a time. Often the person knows what they want to say but are unable to say it which results in frustration.

Anomic aphasia

People with Anomic aphasia have relatively preserved understanding of spoken language, reading, and ability to repeat words and sentences. However, they experience difficulty finding and producing the words they need to use, such as nouns (e.g. objects) and verbs (e.g. actions). Connected speech is adequate in terms of grammar and fluency but there can be hesitations/pauses, use of vague words as substitutes (the ‘thing’) or ‘talking around’ the word to describe it.

How can I be involved in research?

Other causes of aphasia (not stroke)

What are other causes of aphasia?

Primary Progressive Aphasia

Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA) is a condition caused by loss of brain cells in the front and sides of the brain (frontal and temporal lobes). These lobes are important for language, emotions and personality. People’s language and speech skills will progressively become worse over time as brain tissue deteriorates.

Difficulties with language may include:

  • difficulty with finding the right words to express themselves
  • speaking is more difficult  and mistakes are made when saying words
  • difficulty understanding what people are saying
  • words are said in the wrong order
  • problems with reading, writing and/or spelling
  • speaking more slowly or hesitating on words
  • forgetting what everyday objects are for or finding it hard to recognise them
  • changes in behaviour.

Brain tumour

There are more than 40 different types of major brain tumours that are classified as benign (slow growing, unlikely to spread) or malignant (cancerous and able to spread to other parts of the brain and spinal cord). A tumour that forms within or spreads to areas of the brain that are important for speech and language functioning can result in aphasia. Aphasia can also arise following surgery for brain tumours.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI)

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused by sudden trauma to the head by an external force (jolt, bump, blow) or an object piercing the skull and damaging brain tissue. Common incidents resulting in TBI are falls, violence and road traffic accidents.  TBI can cause aphasia if the brain damage occurs in language areas of the brain important for speech and language production and comprehension. Often aphasia caused by TBI co-occurs with cognitive problems since multiple areas of the brain are affected (e.g., difficulty with memory and thinking).

Infectious disease

Bacterial infections or an abscess can cause aphasia if they occur in the language areas of the brain.  Other diseases (e.g., Lyme disease, herpes simplex, viruses) which cause encephalitis (inflammation of brain tissue) can also result in aphasia.

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