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Dysarthria

Physical Communication Cognitive Behavioural / Emotional

Dysarthria is caused by damage to the brain. This may occur at birth, as in cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy, or may occur later in life due to one of many different conditions that involve the nervous system, including

  • stroke,
  • brain injury,
  • tumours,
  • Parkinson’s disease,
  • Lou Gehrig’s disease/amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS),
  • Huntington’s disease,
  • Multiple sclerosis.

Dysarthria is a motor speech disorder. It results from impaired movement of the muscles used for speech production, including the lips, tongue, vocal folds, and/or diaphragm. The type and severity of dysarthria depend on which area of the nervous system is affected.

A person with dysarthria may demonstrate the following speech characteristics:

  • “Slurred,” “choppy,” or “mumbled” speech that may be difficult to understand
  • Slow rate of speech
  • Rapid rate of speech with a “mumbling” quality
  • Limited tongue, lip, and jaw movement
  • Abnormal pitch and rhythm when speaking
  • Changes in voice quality, such as hoarse or breathy voice or speech that sounds “nasal” or “stuffy”

A speech and language therapist can evaluate a person with speech difficulties and determine the nature and severity of the problem. Treatment depends on the cause, type, and severity of the symptoms. Some possible goals of treatment include:

  • Slowing the rate of speech
  • Improving the breath support so the person can speak more loudly
  • Strengthening muscles
  • Increasing tongue and lip movement
  • Improving speech sound production so that speech is more clear
  • Teaching caregivers, family members, and teachers strategies to better communicate with the person with dysarthria
  • In severe cases, learning to use alternative means of communication (e.g., simple gestures, alphabet boards, or electronic or computer-based equipment)

"Too often children and young people with ABI are discharged from hospital without specialist brain support that they and their families need to overcome lifelong challenges"
Andrew Ross; former Chief Executive of the Children's Trust
"New parenting support intervention showed how parenting style is related to executive dysfunction in children and young people post brain injury. With support parents cope better so the child has a better recovery"
Andrea Palacio-Navarro; Spain
"We need to harness the power of brain plasticity for treating children and young people with brain injury. Stressful experiences alter brain development of a child, especially at the key ages of 0-3 and at ages 10-16"
Professor Bryan Kolb; Canada
"When different organisations assess different aspects of a child's neuro-rehabilitation needs, everyone looks at things from a different perspective and highlight needs and conflicting priorities"
Cathy Jonson; Rehab without Walls; United Kingdom.
"Pediatric neuro-rehabilitation cannot be delivered in isolation. The needs of the child have to be looked at both holistically and within the context of the family unit. Parents need to be empowered to be parents in post-acute pediatric neuro-rehabilitation following brain injury"
The Children's Trust; United Kingdom
"We would like to see earlier identification and support for children with brain injuries to help them succeed in school."
Dalton Leong; Chief Executive of the Children's Trust
"There are problems with getting people into neuro-rehab centres. Those most in need are often those most excluded due to a lack of socio-economic resources."
Vicki Anderson; Australia
"Intensive and individualized approaches work. A one-size-fits-all approach doesn't. You have to make it relevant to the child."
Recolo; United Kingdom
"Healthy teens are better at identifying strategies to deal with barriers. KIDS WITH ABI'S CAN'T!"
Shari Wade; USA
"NHS clinicians struggle with what intervention to priorities in pediatric neuro-rehabilitation due to limited clinical time and the complexity of needs. Children, clinicians, parents and schools all have different neuro-rehabilitation priorities"
Recolo; United Kingdom

OUR MISSION: To work to remove (health) inequalities for children & young people affected by acquired brain injury; and provide effective support to their families that makes a real difference.

Council for Disabled Children Lottery Funded