When people have dysarthria (say "dis-AR-three-uh"), they cannot speak well. They understand language. They know what they want to say. And they usually don't have trouble reading and writing. But when they talk, their speech is often slurred and hard to understand.
This can be caused by an injury to the brain or a disease of the nervous system. It can affect the nerves that control the lips, jaw, tongue, and soft palate. Some causes include a stroke, Parkinson's disease, myasthenia gravis, or injury to the head.
If you have dysarthria, you and your family may feel frustrated and anxious. But speech therapy can help improve your speech so that others can understand you better.
The symptoms of dysarthria depend on what caused it. People with dysarthria may:
Your doctor will do a physical examination and ask questions about your medical history. If it looks like you have a speech problem, the doctor may refer you to a speech-language pathologist (SLP).
Your doctor or SLP may suggest other tests to:
The SLP will also listen to you talk. He or she will watch how you say sounds and combinations of sounds. The SLP will also listen to how you pause between phrases, how you put stress on parts of words, and how loudly you speak.
If a treatable medical condition is causing your speech problem, your doctor will likely start by treating that condition. This may also improve your speech.
If your speech problem can't be solved by treating a medical condition, then there are things your doctor or speech-language pathologist can do to help improve your speech. He or she may give you:
Your health care team will help you decide on the best schedule for treatment.
Communication problems can be very frustrating. Here are some tips:
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
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Current as of: October 9, 2017
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
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