What is Dysarthria?

Dysarthria is a speech disorder that affects the way you move your mouth, tongue, lips, vocal chords, diaphragm and other parts of your body that help you speak and produce sound. The movement of those muscles do not cooperate with you and it is hard to communicate because of this. This disorder does not affect a person’s intellect, but rather their motor skills to be able to speak. Others may find it difficult to understand a person suffering from dysarthria.

When a person has dysarthria their voice may sound hoarse, soft, or strained. Their speech may be imprecise, slow, or too fast.
Dysarthria can impact your articulation, vocal loudness, vocal rhythm and intonation, and also affect swallowing. For example, people with Parkinson’s disease tend to speak faster and softer which impacts their speech clarity. In addition, some diseases like Parkinson’s impacts one’s sensory system negatively impacting their awareness. They may perceive their voice as being loud or clear enough despite people asking them to repeat themselves.

This speech problem can be treated with therapy, and improvements depend on the cause of the disorder. Dysarthria can be caused by any of the following: Lou Gehrig’s disease due to its effect on the brain, brain and head injury or trauma, brain tumors, cerebral palsy, Huntington’s disease, stroke and more.

How I Treat Dysarthria

The evidence-based treatment interventions for dysarthria are chosen based off the type and severity of dysarthria and the client’s cognitive awareness and ability to execute strategies. Behavioral interventions may include standard voicing treatment, pacing, breathwork, and Lee Silverman Voice therapy. If a client is unable to perceive their vocal or speech deficits, then acoustical and visual feedback methods are used in order to facilitate vocal loudness and speech articulation. Augmentative and alternative communication methods (e.g., high-tech speech generating device or low-tech communication device/books) are also used when the dysarthria severely affects one’s intelligibility.

To learn more about Dysarthria, click here.