Dysarthria is a motor speech disorder that occurs when one has weak or difficult to control muscles of the face, lips, tongue, throat or for breathing. The weakened muscles are due to brain damage that can happen at birth (e.g. cerebral palsy) or following an injury or illness (e.g. stroke, brain injury, tumours, MS, ALS, Parkinson’s Disease, Huntington’s Chorea). There are various kinds of dysarthria and severity can range from very mild through to very severe.
An individual with dysarthria typically sounds slurred or mumbled in their speech and may: speak very slowly or too quickly; speak softly or monotone; sound robotic or choppy; have voice changes such as hoarseness or breathiness; or resonance changes whereby sounding too nasal or not nasal enough (‘stuffed up’ sounding).
Dysarthria impacts communication with others which can affect one’s relationships with family, friends and can make social situations challenging. This may lead to social isolation and depression.
The speech-language pathologist assesses the speech patterns in single words, sentences and conversation, to determine whether dysarthria is the condition interfering with speech clarity and to develop a treatment approach to best address the individualized needs and goals of the client.