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Medical Terms Explained

A stroke is a shock to everyone.Partners and family members often feel a deep sense of loss, because the stroke changes the person they knew and love. A stroke is likley to change the lives of the entire family in many different ways. The suddeness and emotional impact can be extremely difficult to deal with and there is a huge amount of information to take in, especially in the early days whilst the stroke survivor is still in hospital. The medical professionals may discuss many things with you and your loved one and mention specific medical terms which seem understandable at the time, but get forgotten once the stroke survivor has been discharged from hopsital and is at home.

We therefore hope that the medical terms and explanations detailed below prove to be of assistance, but should you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact us.



A disorder of language arising from damage to the areas of the brain that control the understanding and expression of spoken and written language, whilst intelligence remains unaffected. Also called dysphasia.


The production of the sounds of speech by the movement of the lips, tongue and jaw.

Articulatory Dyspraxia/Apraxia

An impairment of the process by which the lips, tongue and jaw are directed to produce speech by the brain. The articulatory difficulty is often directly related to the complexity of the word or sounds, and speech is often characterised by slow, laborious attempts tp produce words.

Broca’s Aphasia

A form of non-fluent aphasia characterised by slow and ‘telegrammatic’ speech, where key words are spoken, often in the wrong order, but the words that would usually link them into a sentence or phrase are missing. It is named after the French neurologist, Broca, who first associated this form of aphasia with damage to the left, frontal area of the brain.


Literally meaning ‘talking round’ this describes a strategy that many people with aphasia employ when they experience word-finding difficulties, e.g. ‘an animal with a long neck – not a zebra’ for giraffe.


A dome-shaped sheet of muscle and fibre that forms a partition between the thoracic cavity in which the lungs are housed and the abdomen. It is lowered when breathing in and raised when breathing out.


Any restriction or lack of ability (resulting from an impairment) to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being.


An impairment of speech production resulting from damage to the nervous system, affecting voice production, articulation, resonance and intonation.


see Aphasia.


Medical field specialising in disorders of the ear, nose and throat.

Expressive Aphasia

see Non-fluent Aphasia.

Fluent Aphasia

A from of aphasia usually resulting from damage to the back, left side of the brain and characterised by easily articulated, or clearly voiced, language, often which good sentence structure but which may contain some degree of jargon, or nonsense words, or where the person experiences difficulties in finding the right words.

Global Aphasia

A severe form of aphasia in which both understanding and expression of language are severly impaired.

Head Injuries

Injury to the head which may result in some degree of brain damage.


Any loss or abnormality of any of a person’s physical or psychological powers.


The degree to which speech is understandable to the listener.


The sound pattern of phrases and sentences produced by varying the pitch and sometimes the volume of the voice.


Here used to mean made-up or nonsense words.

Jargon Aphasia

A type of aphasia in which many if not all spoken language consists of nonsense words which bear little or no resembleance to the intended word.

Locked-in Syndrome

A condition resulting from a stroke affecting the brain stem which usually results in total paralysis, including loss of speech swallowing, but in which the intelliogence of the person is not affected. Sometimes eye movement is still possible and can be used as a mode of communication.

Nasal Resonance

The quality of sound resulting from the amount of air that passes through the nose during speech.

Nervous System

The brain, spinal cord and the nerve cells and fibres nervous system.

Neurological Disorders

Any disorder or disease which affects the vervous system.


Any surgery that involves the brain, spinal cord or peripheral nerves.

Non-Fluent Aphasia

A form of aphasia usually resulting from damage to an area near the from of the left side of the brain and characterised by slow, halting language, often with poor sentence structure and grammatical errors but which may contain some meaningful words.

Progressive Aphasia

A rare form of aphasia that has a slow onset and which continues to get worse, cuased by changes to the structure of cells in specific parts of the brain.

Receptive Aphasia

see Wernicke’s aphasia.


The meaning of words.


An interrruptionm in the flow of blood to the brain that cuases the destruction of some brain tissue, either due to a blood clot of haemorrhage. Also known as a cerebrovascular accident (CVA).

Vocal Cords

Two bands of elastic tissue and membranes in the throat which move together to produce the voice as air is expelled from the lungs.


The component of speech that is produced by the vibration of the vocal cords.

Wernicke’s Aphasia

A form of fluent aphasia in which grammar and sentence structure are relatively unscathed but in which many jargon words are produced and the ability to understand language is impaired.


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