Dysarthria is a speech disorder that usually results from a stroke. The muscles of the mouth, throat, and respiratory system are affected. The muscles may be weak or poorly coordinated. If you have this condition, you may have trouble forming words.
Mouth and Throat
This condition is caused by not being able to control and coordinate the muscles that you use to talk. This can result from:
Brain tumor Brain trauma
Conditions that paralyze the face or cause weakness (eg,
- Degenerative brain disease, such as:
Alcoholor drug abuse(eg, inhalants, sedatives, narcotics)
- Surgery on the tongue
- Weakness of the tongue (paralysis of the hypoglossal nerve)
These factors increase your chance of developing dysarthria:
- Being at high risk for stroke
- Having a degenerative brain disease
- Abusing alcohol or drugs
- Being older and having poor health
Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors.
If you have any of these symptoms do not assume it is due to dysarthria. These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any of these:
Speech that sounds:
- Hoarse, breathy
- Slow or fast and mumbling
- Soft (like whispering)
- Nasal quality
- Sudden loudness
- Difficulty chewing and swallowing
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. She will also do a physical exam, paying close attention to your:
- Ability to move lips, tongue, and face
- Production of air flow for speech
Depending on your condition, tests may include:
- MRI scan —a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the brain
CT scan—a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the brain PET scan—a test that produces images to show the amount of functional activity in the brain
- Single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scan—an imaging test that shows blood flow in the brain
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
- Addressing the cause of dysarthria, such as stroke
Working with a speech language pathologist, which may focus on:
- Doing exercises to loosen the mouth area and strengthen the muscles for speech
- Improving how you articulate
- Learning how to speak slower
- Learning how to breath better so you can speak louder
- Working with family members to help them communicate with you
- Learning how to use communication devices
- Changing medication
To help reduce your chance of getting dysarthria, take the following steps:
Reduce your risk of stroke:
- Exercise regularly.
fruits and vegetables. Limit dietary saltand fat.
If you smoke,
- Check your blood pressure often.
Take a low dose of
aspirinif your doctor says it is safe.
- Keep chronic conditions under control.
- Call 911 if you have symptoms of a stroke, even if symptoms stop.
- If you have an alcohol or drug problem, get help.
- Ask your doctor if medications you are taking could lead to dysarthria.
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Canadian Association of Speech Language Pathologists
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
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McGhee H, Cornwell P, Addis P, Jarman C. Treating dysarthria following traumatic brain injury: Investigating the benefits of commencing treatment during post-traumatic amnesia in two participants. Brain Injury . 2006;20:1307-1319.
Public stroke prevention guidelines. National Stroke Association website. Available at: http://www.stroke.org/site/PageServer?pagename=PREVENT . Accessed November 16, 2008.
Stedman’s Medical Dictionary . 28th ed. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2005; 595.
Swanson J. Dysarthria: what causes slurred speech? Mayo Clinic website. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dysarthria/HQ00589 . Updated July 2008. Accessed December 1, 2008.
What does an audiologist do? FAQ. University of Cincinnati College of Allied Health Sciences website. Available at: http://cahs.uc.edu/faq/CSD.cfm . Accessed November 16, 2008.
Wood D. Stroke. EBSCO Publishing Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/thisTopic.php?marketID=15topicID=81 . Updated February 2008. Accessed December 1, 2008.
Last reviewed December 2008 by
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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