Dysarthria is a technical term that, for the general public, equates to slurred speech. There are multiple causes of dysarthria, and many ways of treating these causes. Speech therapy may also help individuals suffering from dysarthria speak with more clarity. Below are some basic answers to frequently asked questions about dysarthria.
What Is Dysarthria?Dysarthria is imprecise, slow and/or distorted speech. In layman’s terms, it is slurred speech. This type of speech disorder is the result of paralysed or weakened muscles that are needed for speech production, or an inability to control or coordinate these muscles. Generally dysarthria occurs in association with another medical event, rather than simply appearing one day on its own.
What Causes Dysarthria?Dysarthria is most often the result of a stroke, traumatic brain injury, brain tumour, or degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis. These can all adversely affect the part of the brain that controls the muscles used in making speech (facial muscles, mouth muscles, etc.) and result in their weakening, paralysis or leave them unable to be control or coordinated. Abusing alcohol and some medications can also produce dysarthria, though in the case of slurred speech produced in this manner dysarthria may disappear when the effects of these substances has worn off.
How Is Dysarthria Treated?Treatment for dysarthria is actually treatment for whatever condition caused it. If dysarthria was brought about by a brain tumour, for example, then treatment for this tumour would encompass treatment for the dysarthria. If dysarthria was caused by substance abuse, then waiting for the substance to leave the individual’s system may be all that is needed to treat dysarthria.
Is There a Cure for Dysarthria?Any prognosis for dysarthria will depend upon the underlying cause. There is no single method of curing all cases of dysarthria, though generally if there are improvements in the condition that caused dysarthria then there will be improvements in dysarthria itself as well.
Will Speech Therapy Benefit Those With Dysarthria?Very often those suffering from dysarthria will benefit from speech therapy. Such therapy often allows individuals to strengthen the muscles affected by dysarthria, re-learn to produce speech in a manner that “works” with dysarthria and/or create a new means of communicating if speech can not be improved. Generally individuals who suffer from dysarthria find that a great deal of their frustration at not being able to communicate efficiently is relieved when they begin speech therapy and know that they may be capable of making improvements in this area.
Where Can I Obtain Further Information on Dysarthria?Dysarthria has many causes, so medical professionals experienced in any area that is commonly associated with dysarthria should be able to offer further information on this disorder. Experienced speech therapists and pathologists may well have further information and advice about the disorder as well, and organisations dedicated to supporting those with speech disorders and difficulties may be able to provide further information or put individuals in touch with a specialist who can do so.
The British Stammering Association (www.stammering.org) Speakability (www.speakability.org.uk) and Talking Point (www.talkingpoint.org.uk) are a few such organisations that might be able to help.