Lakeshore Speech provides dysarthria treatment for motor speech disorders whereby the muscles of the mouth, face, and respiratory system may become weak, move slowly, or not move at all after a stroke or other brain injury. The type and severity of dysarthria depend on which area of the nervous system is affected.
Some causes of dysarthria include stroke, head injury, cerebral palsy, and muscular dystrophy. Both children and adults can have dysarthria.
What are some signs or symptops of dysarthria?
A person with dysarthria may experience any of the following symptoms, depending on the extent and location of damage to the nervous system:
Speaking softly or barely able to whisper
Slow rate of speech
Rapid rate of speech with a "mumbling" quality
Limited tongue, lip, and jaw movement
Abnormal intonation (rhythm) when speaking
Changes in vocal quality ("nasal" speech or sounding "stuffy")
Drooling or poor control of saliva
Chewing and swallowing difficulty
How is dysarthria diagnosed?
A Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) can evaluate a person with speech difficulties and determine the nature and severity of the problem. The SLP will look at movement of the lips, tongue, and face, as well as breath support for speech, voice quality, and more.
Another motor speech disorder is apraxia. An important role of the SLP is to determine whether the person's speech problems are due to dysarthria, apraxia, or both.
What treatment is available for people with dysarthria?
Treatment depends on the cause, type, and severity of the symptoms. An SLP works with the individual to improve communication abilities.
Possible Goals of Treatment
Slowing the rate of speech
Improving the breath support so the person can speak
Increasing mouth, tongue, and lip movement
Improving articulation so that speech is more clear
Teaching caregivers, family members, and teachers strategies
to better communicate with the person with dysarthria
In severe cases, learning to use alternative means of
communication (e.g., simple gestures, alphabet boards,
or electronic or computer-based equipment)
What can I do to communicate better with a person with dysarthria?
It is important for both the person with dysarthria and the people he or she communicates with to work together to improve interactions. Here are some tips for both speaker and listener.
Tips for the Person with Dysarthria
Introduce your topic with a single word or short phrase before
beginning to speak in more complete sentences
Check with the listeners to make sure that they understand you
Speak slowly and loudly; pause frequently
Try to limit conversations when you feel tired, when your speech
will be harder to understand
If you become frustrated, try to use other methods, such as
pointing or gesturing, to get your message across, or take
a rest and try again later
Children may need additional help to remember to use these strategies.
Tips for the Listener
Reduce distractions and background noise
Pay attention to the speaker
Watch the person as he or she talks
Let the speaker know when you have difficulty understanding
him or her
Repeat only the part of the message that you understood so
that the speaker does not have to repeat the entire message.
If you still don't understand the message, ask yes/no questions
or have the speaker write his or her message to you