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HealthInfo Canterbury


What is dysarthria?

Dysarthria is a motor speech disorder. When someone has dysarthria, they know what they want to say, but the muscles they use to speak are weak, and possibly uncoordinated.

What causes dysarthria?

Dysarthria is caused by a brain event or condition, such as a stroke or Parkinson disease, leading to:

If you have dysarthria your speech may sound:

Your voice may sound:

What can I do to make communication easier if I have dysarthria?

General advice

Specific advice

Some of the following strategies may be useful. Ask your speech language therapist which ones will help you.

Concentrate on saying one word at a time.

Speak slowly.

Speak loudly ("think loud").

Exaggerate the sounds in each word.

Use gesture, pointing, or writing.

Use your communication chart or device.

If you haven't been understood, repeat the word or phrase, rephrase what you are trying to say using key words, or write the word or phrase.

Is dysarthria permanent?

A lot can change over the first few days, weeks, and months. Some people recover very quickly, but for others it may take longer.

Dysarthria often becomes less of a problem as time passes. Many people get used to it and see signs of progress even years later.

Who can help?

A speech language therapist will work with you and your whānau or family to help improve your speech and, if necessary, develop new ways to communicate effectively.

You may also be interested in our page about Apraxia of speech.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

On the next page: Helping someone with dysarthria communicate

Written by speech-language therapists, Canterbury DHB. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed December 2016.


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Page reference: 78045

Review key: HISCD-79694