Dysarthria

Dysarthria can occur after stroke due to weakness or paralysis in the muscles controlling mouth and facial movements or the respiratory system. Symptoms may include slurred speech, abnormal rate of speech (slow or fast), speaking softly, impaired pitch, impaired rhythm of speech, impaired quality of speech, drooling, and decreased mouth movements. Speech impairment can make it difficult to communicate effectively and may affect interaction with family and friends, especially in social situations.

Treatment techniques for dysarthric patients may aim at slowing the rate of speech, improving breath support to increase volume of speech, strengthening face and mouth musculature, improving mouth/tongue movement, teaching adaptive strategies, and using alternative means of communication such as alphabet boards or computer devices. A speech language pathologist (SLP) can help a stroke victim overcome speech difficulties or learn to use alternative methods of communication if needed. One can search for a SLP at the following link:

www.asha.org/findpro

Stroke patients with slurred speech can try the following techniques to improve communication with others:

* Speak slowly and loudly * Pause frequently * Ask the listener if they understand you * Limit conversation when you are tired * Use body language to help compensate

Caregivers can use the following techniques to help them better understand the stroke patient with impaired articulation:

* Pay attention to the speaker and look at them while they talk * Reduce distractions and background noise * Let the speaker know when you have difficulty understanding * Ask Yes/No questions rather than open ended questions when having difficuly understanding * If you can't understand what is being said, ask the patient to write the message if able

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