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‘Raise awareness of aphasia in society’

Over half of people have never heard of the stroke-related communication condition, research reveals

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Over half of people have never heard of aphasia, despite it affecting more than 350,000 people in the UK, new research has revealed. 

Language and communication disorder aphasia is most commonly caused by stroke, and can have a profound impact on a person’s ability to speak, read, write and use numbers. 

However, new Stroke Association research in Wales reveals 57 per cent of the public have never heard of aphasia. In Wales alone, there are over 70,000 stroke survivors, and 40 per cent will experience aphasia after their stroke. 

Furthermore, two thirds – 66 per cent – also did not know aphasia was a communication disorder, and 85 per cent admitted they would lack confidence in recognising its symptoms. 

Only 40 per cent said they would feel confident in communicating with someone with aphasia – and 23 per cent said they may mistake the communication problems presented by aphasia for a learning difficulty.

The research also highlights other common misconceptions around aphasia including that only around a quarter (24 per cent) of Welsh people believe that aphasia only affects someone’s ability to talk and one in ten people mistakenly thinking that aphasia can’t improve.

To help raise awareness of aphasia, the Stroke Association has launched When the Words Away Went, a documentary about three stroke survivors living with aphasia embarking on their journey to find their voice and rebuild their lives.

The documentary aims to equip people with the knowledge, understanding and confidence to support those living with aphasia.

Katie Chappelle, associate director for Wales, Stroke Association said: “Aphasia is very common, affecting over a third of stroke survivors, so it’s disheartening to see such low awareness and knowledge of aphasia amongst the general public.

“Most of us can’t imagine living with aphasia, but it makes everyday tasks like getting on the bus or talking to a friend daunting, made worse by misconceptions that people with aphasia lack intelligence. 

“This can often lead to anxiety and depression, feeling excluded from society and difficulties with personal relationships.

“We want to encourage everyone to watch our new documentary When the Words Away Went, featuring stories from three inspiring stroke survivors impacted by aphasia, so people can better understand the condition and become an ally to those affected. 

“Together we can help make the lives of those living with aphasia a little bit easier.

“The Stroke Association is here for everyone affected by aphasia, providing support and an important reminder that there is hope. Aphasia can and does improve, and with the right help people with aphasia can live their best lives.”

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