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McGinn, Montoya, Love & Curry, PA

What is dysarthria?

A traumatic brain injury can cause unpredictable symptoms affecting multiple systems of the body. Following a TBI, you may experience dysarthria, which affects your speech, making it hard for others to understand you. 

Unlike other conditions that can cause difficulty with verbal communication, dysarthria does not arise from direct damage to the speech centers of your brain. According to the Mayo Clinic, its cause is weakness of the muscles in your face that you use for speaking. 

Symptoms

If you have dysarthria, you may find it difficult to move the muscles of your face or tongue. This can affect your speech in unpredictable ways. The volume may become either excessively loud or excessively soft. The speed may be abnormally fast or slow. Your speech may become monotone or take on a raspy or nasal quality. The weakness of the muscles can make it difficult for you to enunciate clearly, and you may slur your words as a result. 

Treatment

Therapy with a speech and language pathologist can be helpful in improving the symptoms of dysarthria. Your therapist will help you set goals that you will work to achieve in therapy. Your goals should relate to the specific issues that you are experiencing as a result of your dysarthria. For example, if you find yourself speaking too slowly, one of your goals should be to adjust the rate of your speech. 

Sometimes dysarthria does not respond to treatment. When this occurs, you may need to find alternative means of communication with the help of your pathologist. There are computer-based technologies that can help. Other options include an alphabet board with which to spell out words or gestural communication.