Anomic aphasia is a rare complication of a brain injury that results in difficulties recalling certain words, especially the names of people and objects. A person can usually describe a certain object in detail, but will get confused when trying to remember what it is called. The severity of the condition and the specific symptoms can vary from patient to patient, but most sufferers have close-to-average reading, listening, writing, and comprehension skills. Treatment for anomic aphasia typically consists of long-term speech therapy and psychological counseling.
A person can potentially develop anomic aphasia or another type of cognitive disorder after suffering a stroke, head trauma from an accident, or in rare cases a severe brain infection. The area of the brain most commonly involved is the left temporal lobe, the center of language comprehension. A lesion or injury on the frontal cortex, brain stem, or parietal lobe may also result in the development of symptoms. Ongoing neuroscience research hopes to pinpoint exactly how and why certain cognitive abilities are affected with particular injuries while others are left intact.
The biggest problem that most people with anomic aphasia face is communicating their thoughts quickly and effectively. For example, a patient who wants to borrow a pencil might be unable to remember what the object is called, and therefore cannot ask for it directly. Instead he or she may take a long time trying to describing the object. Some people are better at describing thoughts than others because they can recall most words, such as paper, pen, or graphite, but not the main object in mind, the pencil. People with severe anomic aphasia can be at a complete loss for words and resort to hand and body gestures to communicate.
It is often difficult for doctors to predict an accurate prognosis for anomic aphasia. Many people somewhat spontaneously recover their ability to name objects after some time. Others gradually improve their skills with months or years of speech therapy, which involves playing word games, keeping journals, and learning tips from highly-trained therapists. Regular meetings with a psychologist also help many people have an outlet to express frustrations, discuss goals, and find hope for the future.
In some cases, anomic aphasia remains a permanent disability even with extensive treatment efforts. Sufferers depend on earnest support and understanding from friends, family, and coworkers to learn how to fully enjoy life despite the condition. Most people are able to live and work independently as long as they are willing to stay patient and positive.