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Dysarthria is a speech disorder caused by muscle weakness. It can make it hard for you to talk. People may have trouble understanding what you say. Speech-language pathologists, or SLPs, can help.

  • About Dysarthria

  • Signs

  • Causes

  • Testing

  • Treatment

  • Tips for Talking With Someone Who Has Dysarthria

About Dysarthria

We use many muscles to talk. These include muscles in our face, lips, tongue, and throat, as well as muscles for breathing. It is harder to talk when these muscles are weak. Dysarthria happens when you have weak muscles due to brain damage. It is a motor speech disorder and can be mild or severe.

Dysarthria can happen with other speech and language problems. You might have trouble getting messages from your brain to your muscles to make them move, called apraxia. You could also have trouble understanding what others say or telling others about your thoughts, called aphasia.

Signs of Dysarthria

If you have dysarthria you may:

  • Have "slurred" or "mumbled" speech that can be hard to understand.

  • Speak slowly.

  • Talk too fast.

  • Speak softly.

  • Not be able to move your tongue, lips, and jaw very well.

  • Sound robotic or choppy.

  • Have changes in your voice. You may sound hoarse or breathy. Or, you may sound like you have a stuffy nose or are talking out of your nose.

Causes of Dysarthria

Brain damage causes dysarthria. It can happen at birth or after an illness or injury. Anything that causes brain damage can cause dysarthria, such as:

  • Stroke

  • Brain injury

  • Tumors

  • Parkinson's disease

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS

  • Huntington's disease

  • Multiple sclerosis

  • Cerebral palsy

  • Muscular dystrophy

Testing for Dysarthria

If you have trouble speaking, you should see a doctor right away. It is important to find out why and make sure it does not get worse. An SLP can test your speech and language. This will help the SLP decide if you have dysarthria or another problem. The SLP will look at how well you move your mouth, lips, and tongue and how well you breathe. She will listen to your speech in single words, sentences, and conversation. The SLP will test how well you understand and talk.

Treatment for Dysarthria

Your work with the SLP will depend on the type of dysarthria you have and how severe it is. You may work on:

  • Slowing down your speech.

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