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What is aphasia?

Aphasia is a communication disorder resulting from the acquired impairment of language modalities, affecting the participation and quality of life of a person with aphasia and the quality of their relationships with family and friends.

Aphasia masks the skills of those who present it, and affects its functioning in all relationships, roles and activities in life, influencing their inclusion and social connection, access to information and services, the equality of rights and their well-being in the family, in the community and in the culture.

The person with aphasia may have difficulty expressing himself when speaks, also in understanding what the others say and/or in reading and writing. Aphasia can also make it harder for the person to understand and/or use gestures. Aphasia doesn’t affect intelligence.

The main cause of aphasia is stroke, with 20% to 40% of strokes resulting in acute aphasia. However, other possible causes are: brain tumors, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), infections or other brain injuries.

In cases where aphasia appears due to a degenerative disease, we are facing another type of aphasia, Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA).

In Portugal, at the moment, three Portuguese suffer a stroke, of which two thirds survive (data from SPAVC). Half of stroke survivors may experience aphasia for life. In this context, IPA estimates that around 8000 new cases arise in Portugal every year.

It is known that in the USA there are almost two million people with aphasia, more than 150 000 in Spain, 250 000 in France, and 370 000 in England. With Portugal having one of the highest stroke rates in the European Union, through statistical extrapolations, the IPA estimates that the prevalence of people with aphasia in Portugal is around 40 000.

Portugal is the sixth country in Europe that most spends on cerebral vascular disease. The costs, direct and indirect, reach, according to a 2013 report, 2.5 million euros annually.

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