Dysarthria

  • Definition

    Dysarthria is a speech disorder. It differs from aphasia, which is a language disorder.
    Mouth and Throat
    Mouth Throat
    Dysarthria may arise from problems with the muscles in the mouth, throat, and respiratory system, as well as other causes.
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  • Causes

    This condition can be caused by not being able to control and coordinate the muscles that you use to talk. This can result from:
  • Risk Factors

    Factors that increase your chance of developing dysarthria include:
    • Being at high risk for stroke
    • Having a degenerative brain disease
    • Having a neuromuscular disease
    • Abusing alcohol or drugs
    • Increased age along with poor health
  • Symptoms

    Symptoms of dysarthria include:
    • Speech that sounds:
      • Slurred
      • Hoarse, breathy
      • Slow or fast and mumbling
      • Soft like whispering
      • Strained
      • Nasal
      • Suddenly loud
    • Drooling
    • Difficulty chewing and swallowing
  • Diagnosis

    You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done, paying close attention to your:
    • Ability to move your lips, tongue, and face
    • Production of air flow for speech
    Images may be taken of your brain. This can be done with:
    • MRI scan
    • CT scan
    • PET scan
    • Single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scan
    • Swallowing study, which may include x-rays and drinking a special liquid
    The electrical function of your nerves or muscles may be tested. This can be done with:
    • Nerve conduction study
    • Electromyogram
  • Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
    • Addressing the cause of dysarthria, such as stroke
    • Working with a speech therapist, which may include focusing on:
      • Doing exercises to loosen the mouth area and strengthen the muscles for speech
      • Improving how you articulate
      • Learning how to speak slower
      • Learning how to breath better so you can speak louder
      • Working with family members to help them communicate with you
      • Learning how to use communication devices
      • Safe chewing or swallowing techniques, if needed
    • Changing medication
  • Prevention

    To help reduce your chance of getting dysarthria, take the following steps:
    • Reduce your risk of stroke:
      • Exercise regularly.
      • Eat more fruits and vegetables. Limit dietary salt and fat.
      • If you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to quit.
      • Maintain a healthy weight.
      • Check your blood pressure often.
      • Take a low dose of aspirin if your doctor recommends it.
      • Keep chronic conditions under control.
      • Call for medical help right away if you have symptoms of a stroke, even if symptoms stop.
    • If you have an alcohol or drug problem, get help.
    • Ask your doctor if medications you are taking could lead to dysarthria.
  • RESOURCES

    American Speech-Language-Hearing Association http://www.asha.org

    National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke http://www.ninds.nih.gov

    CANADIAN RESOURCES

    Heart and Stroke Foundation http://www.heartandstroke.com

    Speech-Language and Audiology Canada http://www.caslpa.ca

    References

    Dysarthria. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. Available at: http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/dysarthria.htm. Accessed February 13, 2014.

    McGhee H, Cornwell P, et al. Treating dysarthria following traumatic brain injury: Investigating the benefits of commencing treatment during post-traumatic amnesia in two participants. Brain Injury. 2006;20:1307-1319.

    Stroke prevention. National Stroke Association website. Available at: http://www.stroke.org/site/PageServer?pagename=PREVENT. Accessed February 13, 2014.

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