Dysarthria is a motor speech disorder resulting from paralysis, weakness, spasticity or incoordination of the speech musculature.
Common causes include neurological disorders such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, brain tumor, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and multiple sclerosis (MS) as well as peripheral nerve damage and certain medications. Multiple speech subsystems including respiration, phonation, resonance, prosody and articulation can be affected, and the type of dysarthria a person has depends on which systems are involved and the extent and location of the damage.
Signs and Symptoms of Dysarthria May Include
- Slurred speech
- Slow rate of speech
- Rapid rate of speech
- Breathy, hoarse or strained voice quality
- Hyper- or hypo- nasality
- Uneven speech volume
- Inability to speak above a whisper
- Abnormal intonation
- Difficulty moving lips, tongue and jaw and facial muscles.
- Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
Treatment depends on the type and severity of dysarthria. In addition, dysarthria may co-occur with apraxia of speech and both must be addressed. Ultimately, the goal of dysarthria treatment is to improve overall speech intelligibility. In more severe cases, augmentative communication devices including communication boards and electronic/computer devices may be necessary.