Dysarthria is a speech sound disorder caused by muscle weakness resulting from damage to your nervous system.
When it affects the muscles in your face, tongue, throat, lips and larynx, it can cause issues with speech.
Symptoms can range from mild to severe, which may make it hard for you to communicate effectively.
If you have dysarthria, speech therapy can help.
Voz Speech Therapy is a bilingual speech language pathology clinic in Washington, DC.
We have therapists trained in all facets of speech therapy and can help overcome speech roadblocks caused by dysarthria.
Consult with one of our DC speech therapist today to start treating your speech disorder so you can free your voice and communicate clearly.
Let’s take a look at what dysarthria is and how speech therapy can help.
What Is Dysarthria?
When you have dysarthria you may find it difficult to form and pronounce words.
It’s a motor speech disorder that’s caused by damage to your nervous system.
This keeps you from controlling your muscles and parts of your body related to speech, such as your tongue, larynx, and jaw.
Dysarthria can be developmental.
This happens because of brain damage during fetal development or during birth.
As a result children typically tend to have developmental dysarthria.
Dysarthria can also be acquired.
This happens due to brain damage that occurs later in life.
It’s important to remember that those affected with dysarthria can typically understand language, they just have trouble communicating.
How To Tell If You Have Dysarthria
Dysarthria is more common if you have pre existing neurological conditions.
This includes multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, or brain injury.
The main sign to look out for is having trouble speaking and having people struggle to understand you.
Your speech will be impacted due to difficulty in moving and controlling your facial muscles that limit your ability to speak clearly.
Some signs and symptoms to watch out for can include:
- Slurred or mumbled speech
- Speaking too rapidly
- Speaking too slowly
- Speaking too loudly
- Speaking too softly
- Issues with moving tongue, jaw, and lips
- Having random choppy pauses when speaking
- Hoarse, breathy, or congested voice
- Possible difficulty swallowing
It’s important to look out for these signs and symptoms especially if you have an existing neurological condition.
RELATED: Adult Speech Therapy Services
How To Tell If Your Child Has Dysarthria
In children, dysarthria tends to be a developmental, or congenital, condition.
This means that it was caused during fetal development or during birth.
In pediatric dysarthria your child may have difficulty controlling the muscles in their face.
This can be from neuromuscular weakness or muscular paralysis, or a neurological issue where the brain can’t control these muscles.
They may have shallow, irregular breathing that can affect their ability to support speech.
If your child is struggling with speech or making certain speech sounds it may be an indication of a speech disorder.
Look for general signs and symptoms related to speech issues that may result from dysarthria.
Also assess your child in relation to developmental milestones as an indication of if they are behind or struggling.
Infants may also have issues with eating and swallowing due to weak or uncontrollable muscles in their face, jaw, or tongue.
RELATED: Pediatric Speech Therapy Services
Types of Dysarthria
Dysarthria is grouped into six different categories.
This is based on the specific part of your nervous system that is affected and damaged.
This can be from damage to your central nervous system, which includes your brain and spinal cord.
Or your peripheral nervous network, which is composed of the nerves that carry signals in your body.
Let’s take a look at the different types of dysarthria.
Flaccid dysarthria is caused by damage to your lower motor neurons, which are part of your peripheral nervous system.
Speech may sound breathy and nasally, and may be accompanied by issues with articulating consonant sounds.
Spastic dysarthria occurs from damage to the upper neurons on either one side or both sides of your brain.
Your speech may sound harsh, strained, or strangled.
You may also sound monotone and require a lot of speech effort.
Ataxic dysarthria results from damage to your cerebellum.
This is the part of your brain that helps to coordinate muscle movement.
You may have problems with articulating vowels and consonants.
You may also have difficulty in emphasizing the correct parts of a word when you’re speaking.
In hypokinetic dysarthria there is damage to the basal ganglia.
This is a structure in your brain that helps with muscle movement.
Speech is typically slow, quiet, monotone, and rigid sounding.
Similar to hypokinetic dysarthria, hyperkinetic dysarthria results from damage to your basal ganglia.
Speech is characterized as fast and uncontrollable, with random pauses and stretches of silence.
This is the most common type of dysarthria.
It’s a mixture between two or more of the other types of the disorder.
What Causes Dysarthria?
Dysarthria is a result of damage that has occurred to parts of your nervous system that control the muscles that give you the ability to speak.
It can affect muscles in your throat and face, as well as muscles that help you breathe.
Dysarthria is caused by brain damage and can be congenital or acquired later on in life.
Neuromuscular conditions, injuries, and illnesses can cause dysarthria.
Some common causes include:
- Brain tumors
- Cerebral palsy
- A neurological disorder, like Parkinson’s disease
- Traumatic brain injury
- Multiple sclerosis
- Muscular dystrophy
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Huntington’s disease
- Lyme disease
- Trauma to face, mouth, head, neck, or throat
How Can Speech Therapy For Dysarthria Help?
At Voz Speech Therapy we’re here to help you with our full service bilingual speech language pathology clinic.
Speech therapy can be beneficial to people who have dysarthria by helping them improve their communication.
Depending on the severity of your condition, working together with a speech therapist you’ll devise a treatment plan.
Some of the things speech therapy will help you work on include:
- Strengthening your mouth muscles
- Slowing down speech
- Breathing techniques to speak louder
- Exercises for your tongue and lips
- Enunciation of words and sounds
- Nonverbal communication techniques
Speech therapy can also help your friends and family understand and learn how to better communicate with you.
Book Your Appointment With Voz Speech Therapy Today
Whether you or your child have had a speech disorder your whole lives or developed one recently, we’re here to help.
At Voz Speech Therapy we offer speech and language therapy services for both adults and children.
We’ll work with you to improve your speech to help you communicate clearly and free your voice.
1331 H St NW Ste 200,
Washington, DC 20005
Voz Speech Therapy is a pediatric bilingual speech therapy clinic in Washington, DC that provides individualized services based on the specific needs of your or your child. Therapy sessions are provided in English or Spanish, depending on your child’s native language. Voz Speech Therapy es una clínica pediátrica bilingüe de terapia del habla en Washington, DC que brinda servicios individualizados según las necesidades específicas de usted o su hijo. Las sesiones de terapia se brindan en inglés o español, según el idioma nativo de su hijo.