What is dysarthria?

Dysarthria

Dysarthria (say “dis-AR-three-uh) is a disorder that makes it hard to speak well. People who have it understand language. They know what they want to say. For most, reading and writing isn't a problem. But when they talk, their speech is often slurred and hard to understand. Speech therapy can help improve speech.

Dysarthria can be caused by an injury to the brain or a disease of the nervous system. Examples include a stroke, Parkinson's disease, myasthenia gravis, or a head injury. These conditions can affect the nerves that control the lips, jaw, tongue, and soft palate.

What are the symptoms of dysarthria?

The symptoms of dysarthria depend on what caused it. People with dysarthria may:

  • Slur their speech.
  • Have a hard time saying consonants with enough force to be understood.
  • Speak too fast or too slow.
  • Mumble and run their words together.
  • Be able to say only a few words per breath.
  • Speak too softly.
  • Have a hard time sucking, chewing, and swallowing.

How is dysarthria treated?

If possible, your doctor will treat the condition that caused your speech problem. If not, speech therapy can help. For example, you may learn ways to make your speech clearer and to communicate better. If needed, you may use a computer or other device to help you communicate.

How is dysarthria diagnosed?

Your doctor will do a physical exam and ask questions about your past health. You may have tests to find out if you had a stroke or have another problem that could affect your brain or nerves. You may be referred to a speech-language pathologist (SLP).

How can you care for yourself when you have dysarthria?

Having dysarthria can make be frustrating. Try to be patient with yourself. Give yourself time to get the words out. Be patient with others. If they have trouble understanding you, try again. Try other methods to help listeners understand you. For example, try using apps for your phone or tablet.

What is dysarthria?

Dysarthria (say "dis-AR-three-uh") is a disorder that makes it hard to speak well. People who have it 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.

Dysarthria can be caused by an injury to the brain or a disease of the nervous system. Examples include a stroke, Parkinson's disease, myasthenia gravis, or a head injury. These conditions can affect the nerves that control the lips, jaw, tongue, and soft palate.

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.

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