dys•ar•thria | dis-ahr-three-uh

Dysarthria is a speech disorder that most often presents as “slurred speech.” A person with dysarthria has the language to speak, but it’s difficult to understand due to muscle weakness or paralysis. Like other speech conditions, it can range from mild to severe. For some people, the severity can vary based on factors like fatigue or medications. In addition to the speech being slurred, it can also be at a faster or slower rate than usual, at a lower volume, or have an atypical rhythm.

How Common Is Dysarthria?

Researchers have not come to a conclusion on the prevalence of dysarthria at this time. They do know, however, that dysarthria is more common in people with certain neurological conditions. Dysarthria is relatively common in those who have survived a stroke or traumatic brain injury. Similarly, it is not uncommon for those who are living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis (MS), or Parkinson’s disease to have dysarthria.

Diagnosing Dysarthria

Diagnosing dysarthria typically requires a physical exam and evaluation. A speech-language pathologist might evaluate your speech in order to determine severity and to provide a neurologist with additional insight. There are a number of tests that a healthcare professional might want to run depending on your medical history, including brain imaging and blood tests.

A physical exam might require that you attempt various movement and speech-related tasks, such as sticking out your tongue, biting your lower lip, blowing air, and more.

Can Dysarthria Be Prevented?

Since dysarthria is often caused by unpreventable conditions or diseases, preventing dysarthria entirely is not possible. There are ways, however, to reduce your risk of certain conditions that result in dysarthria. The risk of stroke can be reduced through healthy lifestyle changes. The risk of traumatic brain injury can also be lowered by following safety tips.

What Are The Symptoms of Dysarthria?

Depending on the underlying cause of dysarthria, the signs and symptoms can vary. Some of the more common symptoms of dysarthria include the following:

  • A strained, raspy, or nasal voice
  • Abnormal speech rhythm
  • Difficulty moving your tongue or the muscles in your face
  • Monotone speech
  • Slurred speech
  • Speaking too loud or too softly
  • Speech speed too fast or too slow
  • Uneven speech volume

Can You Recover From Dysarthria?

If you’ve been diagnosed with dysarthria, you’ll likely want to learn about recovery. Some people make a complete recovery. Others improve to a certain extent. Others live with dysarthria permanently. Each person is unique, and the underlying cause can play a significant role.

Treatment for dysarthria varies depending on the underlying condition and specific speech patterns that are present. Common techniques that can be useful for people with dysarthria include:

  • Slowing the rate of speech
  • Speaking at a louder volume
  • Practice over-pronouncing sounds and words
  • Using more breath to speak

Exercises to make the mouth and tongue muscles stronger are sometimes recommended. For people with severe dysarthria, augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) can be helpful if others are not able to understand their speech. This can include simple tools, like a pen and paper, or high-tech tools, like speech-generating devices.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with dysarthria, a speech-language pathologist can help. An SLP can determine what techniques and treatment strategies will work best for each individual case.

Improving Your Communication and Speech With An AAC Device

Lingraphica AAC devices are designed to improve communication for people who have conditions like dysarthria. The device can help you improve communication, practice your speech, and preserve your voice.

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