What is Dysarthria?
It is when the muscles of the mouth, face and breathing system become weak, move slowly, become uncoordinated or do not move at all. It is caused by damage to the parts of the brain that control speech and muscle movements. The symptoms and how severe they are depends on which part of the brain is damaged.
This damage is most often due to
- Brain injury.
- Progressive diseases such as ALS/Lou Gehrig’s disease or Parkinson’s.
- Brain tumors.
- Aneurysm bleeds.
These changes to the brain can result in
- “Slurred” speech.
- Speaking softly or barely able to whisper.
- Speaking slowly.
- Speaking fast with a “mumbling” quality.
- “Nasal” speech or sounding “stuffy”.
- Breathy voice.
- Chewing and/or swallowing difficulty.
Dysarthria can be mild or severe. Someone with a mild case may have speech that is nasal or slurred only when he is tired. Someone with a severe case may not be able to be understood at all. A speech-language pathologist will work to find the area of speech difficulty. They will determine how severe it is and decide on the best form of treatment.
How to Help
A speech-language pathologist will work to find the best way to help with speaking and being understood.
This may include
- Speaking slowly.
- Over-emphasizing speech sounds.
- Speaking one word at a time with a pause or breath between each word.
- Letting the patient take rest breaks. Speech will sound the best when the patient is not tired.
- Speaking face to face.
- Reducing distractions and background noise.
A picture or alphabet board may be helpful if speaking is hard for the affected person. A speech-language pathologist can make one and show you how to use it. Sometimes a pen and notepad are helpful so the person can write what they are trying to say.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 01/25/2008
Copyright © 01/25/2008 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6647
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