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Person struggles speaking due to aphasia

Loss of Speech After a Seizure

Seizures start from abnormal electrical activity in the brain. They affect muscle control and language. They also affect vision and movement. A seizure's impact depends on where the abnormal electrical activity is.1

Seizures in the temporal or frontal lobes of the brain can cause aphasia. This is a language disorder. Aphasia makes it hard to speak. It also makes it hard to understand language.2

Aphasia from seizures is often temporary. Controlling seizures lessens the chance of aphasia.3

What is aphasia?

Aphasia is a language disorder. It makes it hard to comprehend others. It also affects speech. Having aphasia could mean your brain is damaged. Or, it could mean the brain's electrical signaling is altered.3

Aphasia affects the following:3

  1. Fluency – smooth, easy speaking and writing
  2. Understanding – comprehending others
  3. Repetition – repeating words or phrases

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Aphasia and seizures

Seizures causing aphasia start in parts of the brain that control language. These are the temporal and frontal lobes. How language is affected depends on:4,5

  • Location – affected parts of the brain
  • Involvement – how much of the brain is affected
  • Frequency – how often seizures occur

Aphasia occurs in the ictal or postictal phases of a seizure. The ictal phase is the active phase. This is when there is a lot of electrical activity in the brain. The postictal phase is the recovery phase.2

Temporal lobe seizures and loss of speech

The brain has 2 temporal lobes. They are on both sides of the head above the temples. Temporal lobe seizures affect speech and language.4,6

Frequent seizures of the temporal lobe are called temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). TLE is the most common seizure disorder. TLE can start between ages 10 and 20.6

Aphasia can be mapped to certain parts of the temporal lobe. Seizures in the posterior lateral area (back and to the side) affect speech comprehension. Seizures in the anterior mediobasal area (base of the center) make it hard to find the right words to use. Fluency also suffers. Seizures in the basal region (lower area) cause unclear speech.4

Frontal lobe seizures

Abnormal electrical activity in the left frontal lobe affects spontaneous speech. Abnormal electrical activity also affects motor speech. That means the person may have a hard time speaking, speak slowly, or drop words.7,8

Epilepsy syndromes linked to speech problems

Epilepsy syndromes can cause aphasia. These rare conditions can start in childhood. Landau-Kleffner syndrome (LKS) is a good example. LKS causes seizures and aphasia. The aphasia can start suddenly or over time.9,10

In 20 percent of people, changes in the GRIN2A gene cause LKS. These genetic changes affect brain neurotransmitters. This alters brain activity, resulting in altered speech and language. Other genes may also play a role in LKS.9,10

Other syndromes that cause aphasia are:9

  • Epileptic encephalopathy with continuous spike-and-wave during sleep syndrome
  • Autosomal dominant Rolandic epilepsy with speech dyspraxia
  • Intermediate epilepsy-aphasia disorder
  • Atypical childhood epilepsy with centrotemporal spikes
  • Childhood epilepsy with centrotemporal spikes

Can you treat aphasia?

Aphasia is usually short-lived. Stopping or controlling seizures controls aphasia. Doctors may control seizures with:3,8,11

Stimulation treatments require medical devices to be placed in your body. These devices regulate brain activity. This lessens seizures.11

If seizures or other medical problems damage the brain, aphasia may linger. Speech therapy may help you regain language skills.3

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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