Dysarthria is a speech disorder. It happens when the muscles or nerves needed for speech are damaged or weak.
It is not the same as aphasia , which is a language disorder.
Dysarthria may happen due to problems with the muscles needed to speak.
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Common causes of dysarthria are:
- Brain tumor or traumatic brain injury
- Health problems that paralyze the face or cause weakness, such as Bell palsy
- Brain diseases such as:
- Neuromuscular diseases such as:
- Alcohol or substance use disorder
- Surgery or weakness on the tongue
- Structural problems, such as not wearing dentures
- Side effects of medicines that act on the central nervous system
This problem is more common in older adults. It is also more common in people who have any of the health problems that cause dysarthria.
A person with dysarthria may have:
- Speech that sounds:
- Hoarse and breathy
- Slow or fast and mumbling
- Soft like whispering
- Suddenly loud
- Trouble chewing and swallowing
The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the muscles needed for speech.
Images may be taken of the brain. This can be done with:
The electrical function of nerves and muscles may be tested. This can be done with:
The goal of treatment is to help a person speak. The cause of dysarthria will need to be treated. Speech therapy will also be needed.
There are no known guidelines to prevent dysarthria. Managing long term health problems may help.
- Dysarthria. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. Available at: https://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/dysarthria.
- O'Hare, A. and Bremner, L. Management of developmental speech and language disorders: Part 1. Arch Dis Child, 2016; 101 (3): 272-277.
- Speech and language disorders. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/speech-and-language-disorders.
- Stroke symptoms. American Stroke Association website. Available at: https://www.stroke.org/en/about-stroke/stroke-symptoms.
- Rimas Lukas, MD
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