Receptive dysphasia

How we can help people who have receptive dysphasia

Receptive dysphasia is when a patient has difficulty with the understanding of written or spoken language. Patients can both hear and see the words but not process and make sense of them. Speech and language therapy can help people who have receptive dysphasia by encouraging new ways to develop communication and improve it.

What is receptive dysphasia?

Receptive dysphasia is when someone has difficulty understanding either written or spoken language. This happens after trauma to a certain part of the brain. It can occur in combination with expressive dysphasia, or in isolation. Someone who is suffering from receptive dysphasia may be fluent in speech, however what they are saying will be jumbled and not make sense. The following are different types of receptive dysphasia:

Wernicke’s aphasia

Wernicke’s aphasia is when the area known as Wernicke’s area of the brain, which controls word retrieval, comprehension and semantic content of language, is damaged. This then affects a person’s ability to understand speech however they can produce it, often in a jumbled fashion.

Transcortical sensory aphasia

Transcortical sensory aphasia, is often less severe. This means, someone suffering with this, may be aware of when they are going to produce something which is unintelligible. Other times, their sentence structure may be coherent.

Global aphasia

Global aphasia is a severe form and occurs when the brain has had extensive damage. People with global aphasia will often have both expressive and receptive dysphasia and have difficulty in producing and comprehending speech.

What causes receptive dysphasia?

The most common cause of receptive aphasia is a stroke. A stroke happens after a lack of oxygen to the brain and is caused by a bleed or a blood clot in the brain. Receptive dysphasia can also be caused by trauma to the brain; this can be through injury, tumour haemorrhage or hematoma. Severity depends upon the extent of injury to the brain and the amount of time the brain has been subjected to lack of oxygen. Damage is usually sustained in the left side of the brain.

How is receptive dysphasia diagnosed?

Diagnosis of receptive dysphasia will be through a team of medical professionals, and will include a speech and language therapist. Diagnosing a patient will take many different aspects into consideration and will be done soon after initial assessments have been done in hospital. The speech and language therapist will play a key role in assessing and diagnosing a patient with receptive dysphasia.

What problems caused by receptive dysphasia can SLT UK help with?

Speech and language therapy can be extremely helpful for people suffering from receptive dysphasia. A speech and language therapist will do an initial assessment and would focus on one areas tailored to each patient's difficulties. Our speech and language therapists can help individuals who have receptive dysphasia with attention and listening problems, communication problems, voice and speech problems.

Speech and language therapy for someone who has receptive dysphasia will benefit their communication and understanding. It may also improve their confidence and self-esteem when interacting with others, which may provide more social and work opportunities for the patient.

How does speech and language therapy help receptive dysphasia?

Speech and language therapy can help patients who suffer from receptive dysphasia. Ideally therapy would begin as soon as possible after the patient has been diagnosed. Speech and language therapy helps by offering different techniques to overcome and deal with the effects of receptive dysphasia. A speech and language therapist may use the aid of a computer assessment as well as standard measures, depending on the patient’s level of disorder. Speech and language therapy is always tailored to each individual.

What would speech and language therapy treatment for receptive dysphasia involve?

Speech and language therapy will involve an initial assessment to discover the next steps for treatment and to devise a speech therapy plan. After this, speech and language therapy may include assessments, reports, reviews, therapy programmes, support groups, advice and education.

Specific treatment may include:


A patient may suffer from receptive dysphasia for a number of reasons associated with trauma to the brain. This will affect their understanding of spoken and written language. They will still be able to produce speech; however, it may not be intelligible. Speech and language therapy can be highly beneficial to someone who is suffering from receptive dysphasia.

If you feel you may benefit from speech and language therapy or would like any more information on our services please email or call 0330 088 5643.

Related pages

Neurological problems Aphasia Cerebral palsy Traumatic brain injury Stroke Parkinson’s disease Dementia Multiple sclerosis Muscular dystrophy Expressive dysphasia Receptive dysphasia Dysarthia Cranial nerve damage Dyspraxia Right hemisphere communication disorder Huntington’s disease
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