Acquired motor speech disorders overview

Acquired motor speech disorders are changes to voice and speech associated with damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems. This includes disorders associated with the nerve-muscle junction, e.g. myasthenia gravis and with muscle function, e.g. muscular dystrophies. 

Key points:

  • Disorders covers apraxia of speech, dysarthria and dysprosody. 

  • Severity may range from changes imperceptible to listeners but felt by speakers through to absence of any speech or voice.

  • Lesions bringing about motor speech disorders may involve:
        • cerebral cortex
        • and/or subcortical structures and pathways
        • and/or peripheral nerves.
  • Lesions may be localised, e.g. stroke or systemic, e.g. motor neurone disease, sudden onset or slowly or rapidly progressive, all with implications for management. 

  • Prognosis of the underlying neurological disorder may be towards improvement/plateau or inevitably deteriorating, but in all cases speech and language therapy (SLT) has a role to play.

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