Eastern Iowa man shows what it’s like living with aphasia

Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 10:27 PM CDT
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CORALVILLE, Iowa (KCRG) - Wesley Anderson had a brain injury several months ago, and now he struggles to name common household items. He knows what they are and what they do—the challenge is just coming up with the words for them.

Anderson has aphasia, a language processing disorder acquired after damage to the brain.

Aphasia became a part of a national conversation after the news that Bruce Willis was stepping away from his acting career because of the condition.

Kristen Conway is a speech pathologist at On With Life in Coralville. She has been working with Anderson since last fall.

During a therapy session Tuesday, Conway showed Anderson flashcards and asked him to name the items on them. The first one pictured a glass of water. When he saw it, Anderson made a motion like lifting a glass, but was unable to find the word for what he was seeing without Conway prompting him.

Conway said, after his accident, Anderson was in the hospital for several days. When he got out, his communication was very limited. “He wasn’t able to communicate, so, wasn’t able to express his wants and needs, wasn’t able to read and write, unable to follow directions.”

Conway said, in the months since his injury, Anderson has made “significant progress.” “He is now talking in full sentences, answering questions appropriately, with assistance, if needed.”

Conway said it is possible for people to fully recover but she added “it’s more common that these individuals will see some lasting effects of aphasia over time.”

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