People with dysarthria may have a hard time moving the muscles of the mouth, face or upper part of the respiratory system that control speech.
4 Making a Diagnosis
A speech-language specialist usually examines a patient to diagnose the type of dysarthria that he/she has.
This information can help the neurologist to determine the cause of dysarthria. Doctors may also perform a physical exam.
Other tests used in the diagnosis of dysarthria include:
Imaging tests, such as MRI or CT scan to create detailed images of the brain, head or neck that may be helpful in determining the cause of dysarthria.
Electroencephalogram to measure the electrical activity of the brain, electromyogram to measure the electrical activity in the nerves as they transmit impulses to the muscles and nerve conduction studies that measure the strength and speed of impulses as they travel from the nerves to the muscles. These tests can be used to pinpoint the source of the symptoms that a patient has.
Blood and urine test to determine if dysarthria is as a result of an infection or inflammatory disease.
Lumbar puncture (spinal tap), a procedure in which a needle is inserted into the lower part of the back to remove a small sample of cerebrospinal fluid for lab analysis. This test is important as it can help to diagnose serious infections, disorders of the central nervous system and, cancers of the brain or spinal cord.
Brain biopsy for lab examination.
Neuropsychological tests which measure a patient's thinking (cognitive) skills, ability to understand speech, ability to write and other skills. Although dysarthria does not affect cognitive skills, the underlying cause can.
The treatment of dysarthria depends on the type of speech problem and on the underlying cause. If medications are the cause of the dysarthria, changing or discontinuing such medications can help to improve speech.
Speech and language therapy may also be recommended for improving speech. Speech goals may include adjusting speech rate, strengthening muscles, increasing breath support, improving articulation and improving communication with family and friends.
If speech and language therapy are not effective, a speech-language pathologist may recommend other communication methods, such as augmentative and alternative communication systems.
These communication methods can include visual clues, gestures, an alphabet board or computer-based technology.
6 Lifestyle and Coping
There are different ways to adapt your lifestyle in coping with dysarthria.
The following can help patients with dysarthria to communicate more effectively:
Introducing a topic with one word or short phrase before speaking in longer sentences
Gauge understanding - asking listeners to confirm that they know what a person with dysarthria is saying
Keeping speech short
Having back-ups, such as writing messages on a cellphone or hand-held device or carrying a pencil and paper around
Using shortcuts, such as drawings, diagrams or photos during conversations.
7 Risks and Complications
There are several complications associated with dysarthria.
Dysarthria may lead to communication problems. This can affect relationships with family and friends and also make social situations challenging.
Some people with dysarthria may become socially isolated and depressed.
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