Dysarthria is a speech disorder, usually caused by a neurological disorder, such as a stroke, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, myasthenia gravis or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, for example.
A person with dysarthria cannot articulate and pronounce words well due to a change in the system responsible for speech, involving muscles of the mouth, tongue, larynx or vocal cords, which can lead to difficulties in communication and social isolation.
To treat dysarthria, it is important to perform exercises and follow up with a speech therapist, as a way to improve the articulation of words and sounds emitted, and it is also essential that the physician identifies and treats what caused this alteration.
how to identify
In dysarthria, there is an alteration in the production of words, with difficulties in moving the tongue or facial muscles, generating signs and symptoms such as slow, slurred or slurred speech. In other cases, speech may be fast-paced or slurred, as well as very quiet or breathy.
In addition, dysarthria may be accompanied by other neurological disorders, such as dysphagia, which is difficulty in swallowing food, dyslalia, which is a change in the pronunciation of words, or even aphasia, which is a change in expression or understanding. of the language. Understand what dyslalia is and how to treat it .
types of dysarthria
There are different types of dysarthria, and their characteristics may vary according to the location and size of the neurological lesion or the disease that causes the problem. The main types include:
- Flaccid dysarthria : this is a dysarthria that generally produces a hoarse, weak, nasal voice with imprecise emission of consonants. It usually happens in diseases that cause damage to the lower motor neuron, such as myasthenia gravis or bulbar paralysis, for example;
- Spastic dysarthria : it also usually causes a nasal voice, with imprecise consonants, in addition to distorted vowels, generating a tense and “strangled” voice. It may be accompanied by spasticity and abnormal reflexes of the muscles of the face. More frequent in upper motor nerve injuries, as in traumatic brain injury ;
- Ataxic dysarthria : this dysarthria can cause a rough voice, with variations in the intonation of accents, with slowed speech and a tremor in the lips and tongue. It may resemble the speech of someone drunk. It usually appears in situations where there are injuries related to the cerebellum region;
- Hypokinetic dysarthria : there is a hoarse, breathy, shaky voice, with imprecision in articulation, there is also alteration in speech rate and lip and tongue tremor. It can occur in diseases that cause changes in the region of the brain called the basal ganglia, more common in Parkinson’s disease ;
- Hyperkinetic dysarthria : there is a distortion in the articulation of vowels, causing a rough voice and interruption in the articulation of words. It can happen in cases of injury to the extrapyramidal nervous system, frequent in cases of chorea or dystonia, for example.
- Mixed dysarthria: presents alterations characteristic of more than one type of dysarthria, and can occur in different situations, such as multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or traumatic brain injury, for example.
To identify the cause of dysarthria, the neurologist will assess the symptoms, physical examination, and request tests such as computed tomography, magnetic resonance, electroencephalogram, lumbar puncture and neuropsychological study, for example, which detect the main alterations related to or that cause this alteration in speech.
How the treatment is done
Treatment depends on the cause and severity of dysarthria, and the doctor may recommend surgery to correct anatomical changes or remove a tumor, or indicate the use of medications to relieve symptoms, as in the case of Parkinson’s disease, for example.
However, the main form of treatment is done with rehabilitation therapies, with speech therapy techniques to improve voice emission, regulate intensity, articulate words better, exercise breathing or even program alternative forms of communication. Performing exercises indicated by the speech therapist are also very important to improve the mobility of the jaw joint and help strengthen the muscles of the face.