aprax•ia | uhprak-see-uh

Acquired apraxia of speech is a speech disorder that makes it difficult to make the necessary motor movements to speak. Apraxia is a neurological condition. People who have the condition have normal muscles, but the brain pathways involved in speech are affected.

If you have apraxia, you know what you want to say, but you have difficulty positioning your lips, jaw, or tongue to move in the proper way to say it. If you have trouble with just a handful of words, you likely have a milder version of apraxia. In some cases, apraxia can be severe enough that you cannot communicate effectively by speaking.

How Common Is Apraxia?

Acquired apraxia of speech is a condition that can affect anyone but is more common in adults. As its name implies, it is not something someone is born with. Instead, it is acquired due to damage to the brain. Common causes include traumatic brain injury, stroke, or a brain tumor. As medical treatment improves and brain injuries and strokes prove less fatal, more people are likely to live with conditions like apraxia.

Diagnosing Apraxia

There is no single symptom or test that can easily diagnose apraxia. Instead, speech-language pathologists or other healthcare professionals will look for a number of related symptoms. During diagnosis, they will aim to rule out other conditions such as muscle-related conditions.

Depending on medical history, a number of screenings and tests might be conducted by a speech-language pathologist. Some common methods include examining the ability to have a conversation, read, and write.

Can Apraxia Be Prevented?

In a general sense, no, apraxia cannot be prevented. Acquired apraxia of speech is caused by events that cannot be prevented entirely (e.g., strokes and brain injuries). However, there are steps you can take to lower your risk of those various causes.

The most common recommendation to lower your risk of stroke or brain injury is to lead a healthy life. A healthy lifestyle can vary, but common methods to improving health include exercising, healthy eating, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding smoking. The risk of accidental brain injuries can also be reduced by taking proper precautions, such as wearing a seatbelt, fall-proofing a house, and never driving while impaired.

What Are The Symptoms of Apraxia?

Symptoms of apraxia will vary depending on individual circumstances and the severity of the condition.

Apraxia symptoms can include:

  • Groping for sounds, placement, and movement
  • Long pauses between words or syllables
  • Slowed or slurred speech
  • Sound distortions, such as additions or substitutions
  • Stressed enunciation
  • “Warmup” jaw, tongue, or lip movement prior to speaking

Can You Recover From Apraxia?

When it comes to acquired apraxia, recovery is possible. Some people have recovered some or all of their speech abilities in cases of “spontaneous recovery.” If you have apraxia, a medical professional will likely recommend working with a speech-language pathologist. Speech-language pathologists can work with you to teach your muscles to make the right shapes and sounds again.

Improving Your Communication and Speech With An AAC Device

Lingraphica AAC devices are designed to improve communication for people who have conditions like acquired apraxia of speech. The device can help you express your thoughts, practice your speech, and regain your independence.

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