What is dysarthria?
Dysarthria is a motor speech disorder. It can affect muscles of the mouth, face and respiratory system. Affected muscles may become weak, move slowly or not at all. The type and severity of dysarthria depends on which area of the nervous system is affected.
What causes dysarthria?
Neurological injury due to damage in the nervous system may result in weakness or paralysis of any of the subsystems we use to produce speech (e.g. respiration or articulation).
Neurological damage can be caused by:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Cerebral Palsy
- Degenerative neurological conditions (e.g. Parkinson’s Disease, Huntington’s disease, motor neuron disease, Multiple sclerosis)
- Some medications
What are the signs of dysarthria?
The symptoms and severity of dysarthria depends on the location and extent of the neurological injury.
A person with dysarthria may experience any of the following symptoms -usually a combination.
- Slurred speech
- Soft volume or ‘whisper’ like speech
- Slowed and/or effortful speech
- Limited lip, tongue, jaw movement
- Limited inflection or prosody in speech – “monotone”
- Changes in voice quality – “nasal or stuffy”
- Hoarseness or breathiness in voice quality
- Poor saliva control ‘drooling’
- Associated difficulties with chewing food, controlling fluid in the mouth and swallowing
What treatments/therapies are available?
A speech pathologist is able to assess and evaluate a person with dysarthria to determine the nature and severity of the difficulties. Treatment options vary and depend on the type, severity and cause. A speech pathologist will develop a therapy management plan which will aim to promote optimal communication.
If you or a family member need assistance and treatment for dysarthria contact your local doctor, who will arrange for you to see a speech pathologist. We‘ll provide you with a straightforward, efficient and very effective treatment plan targeted to your concerns.