Case Study - Severe Wernicke's Aphasia

Phil, severe Wernicke's aphasia

Age: 65

Time Since Stroke: 8 months


  • Didn't know why people couldn't understand him
  • Couldn't participate in his favorite hobbies
  • His wife had been told that he was dangerous. The police had put him into a psychiatric facility because they couldn't understand him
  • Told he was never going to get better
  • His wife was frustrated because they couldn't communicate anymore
  • He wanted to order for himself and his wife at a restaurant. He also wanted to order pizzas to his house and email with his grandchildren.


With his fluent aphasia, he spoke using intonation and conversational rhythm, but only about 2% of what he said made any sense. For example, "the skucker mast the sunt" Additionally, he couldn't understand much of what was being said to him. His social network was a local Lodge. Unfortunately, it's very important to speak well and to memorize information. He had little usable reading and writing.

Treatment: 6-week program

For his personal goals, we addressed ordering pizza online as well as writing emails and checking them several times for clarity. We counseled him and his wife about how to interact with each other productively, discussed the incident with the police, and Phil finally understood that what he was saying was largely nonsense. We also addressed reading and writing with a main emphasis on speech.


He and his wife learned different ways to communicate and how to help each other understand the other. Within one week of treatment, Phil could say over 15 relevant words per session, averaging 73 words. He averaged between 75%-80% accuracy by the end of his program. He carried around a notebook to help him communicate with others. He could order a pizza online and write and review his emails to his family. He was also thrilled to order meals for him and his wife at a restaurant!

While Wernicke's aphasia can be tough, improvement through intensive aphasia therapy is definitely possible.