Motor Speech Disorders

Updated: Jul 6


Motor Speech Disorders

Motor-speech disorders  include two primary conditions:  dysarthria and apraxia of speech.  In these conditions, the connection between the brain and the speech mechanism is damaged or interrupted.   This makes it difficult to control and/or coordinate the muscles of the face, tongue, or larynx for the purposes of speaking.  Dysarthria and/or apraxia of speech can occur in children and adults. 


They are associated with conditions such as:

  • Cerebral palsy 

  • Multiple sclerosis 

  • Muscular dystrophy

  • Myasthenia gravis

  • Parkinson’s disease

  • Dementia

  • Stroke

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)

Dysarthria
  • Dysarthria is a result of muscle weakness and/or problems coordinating muscle movements. Symptoms include slurred or irregular speech, weak or hoarse voice, altered nasal or vocal quality, or a combination of these which negatively impacts a person’s speech intelligibility (ability to be understood).  Symptoms of dysarthria vary based upon the type of dysarthria, and other factors.

Apraxia
  • Apraxia occurs when there is a disconnect from the signal between the brain to the muscles which produce speech. It can result in mixing up the order of sounds and words and sentences can be spoken differently each time. In severe cases, the person may not be able to produce sounds or words at all.


A number of treatment options are available to treat motor speech disorders.  

  • Treatments for dysarthria involve strengthening the muscles involved in speech production, changing the rate of speech, increasing the respiratory and vocal support of speech, and increasing the precision of speech production.  

  • Treatments for apraxia include techniques to improve coordination and sound sequencing.  Sensory treatments that improve an individual’s awareness of how it “feels” and “looks” to produce sounds may also be incorporated.

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