Dysarthria is a neurological condition involving impairment of the oral muscles. This impairment presents itself in a variety of different ways such as muscle weakness, muscle spasticity and fluctuating muscle tone from low to high. It is often associated with the Stroke and head injury. Dysarthria may also be caused by conditions that affect nerves and muscles(neuromuscular diseases) such as Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, Myasthenia Gravis and Parkinson’s Disease
Communication can become limited as a result of this impairment and our Speech and Language Therapists work with patients to help them overcome these new barriers to communication.
Symptoms 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:
- “Slurred” speech
- 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
The type of treatment depends on the needs and goals of the person with dysarthria and will vary depending on type and severity of the dysarthria. However, below are some of the common goals of treatment in speech and language therapy.
- Slowing the rate of speech
- Strengthening muscles
- Increasing mouth, tongue, and lip movement
- Improving articulation so that speech is more clear
- Teaching family and friends strategies to better communicate with the person with dysarthria
- Learning alternative communication methods (e.g. simple gestures, alphabet boards, or electronic or computer-based equipment)
As part of the treatment plan our Speech and Language Therapist will also liaise with the SLT in the hospital and other involved healthcare professionals to ensure continuity of care.
Generally people with dysarthria have full understanding of language and know what they want to say but just have trouble actually saying it. This is a huge source of frustration for the individual and without treatment can be quite detrimental to confidence and self-esteem levels. Therefore early intervention in the form of speech and language therapy is recommended. Our Speech and Language Therapists work with patients who have had a stroke or have a diagnosis of cerebral palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, Myasthenia gravis or Parkinson’s disease and an associated dysarthria
All of Spectrum Health’s Adult Speech and Language therapists are qualified from University with a B.Sc. or M.sc (Hons) in Speech and Language Therapy and have experience working with adults who have Dysarthria.