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Motor Speech Disorders

Do you know women around you who tend to stuttering or lisps? Speech disorders or speech impediments are a type of communication disorder where ‘normal’ speech is disrupted.

In many cases the cause is unknown. However, there are various known causes of speech impediments, such as “hearing loss, neurological disorders, brain injury, intellectual disability, drug abuse, physical impairments such as Cleft lip and palate, and vocal abuse or misuse. Child abuse may also be a cause in some cases.

Classifying speech into normal and disordered is more problematic than it first seems. By a strict classification, only 5% to 10% of the population has a completely normal manner of speaking (with respect to all parameters) and healthy voice; all others suffer from one disorder or another.

Motor Speech Disorders

Motor speech disorders are impairments of speech arising from damage to the central or peripheral nervous system. The prevalence of neurogenic communication disorders (impairment due to brain damage) is high, and the figures are likely to increase within several populations, among which is the elderly in need of communication services. The diseases noted below often lead to motor speech disorders.

Parkinson’s Disease

  1. The causes of Parkinson’s Disease (PD), the second most common neurodegenerative disorder, are still largely unknown. The prevalence of PD in industrialized countries is estimated at 0.3% of the general population, and about 1% of the population older than 60 years. People of all ethnic origins can be affected, and men are slightly more prone to the disorder.
  2. Although motor features define PD, various non-motor features typically are seen, including autonomic dysfunction, cognitive and psychiatric changes, sensory symptoms, and sleep disturbances.
  3. Speech and voice disorders are very common among individuals suffering from PD. One study estimates that 89% of individuals with PD have a speech or voice disorder. Despite the high incidence of the disorders, studies suggest that only 3%-4% of individuals with PD receive speech treatment.

Huntington’s Disease

  1. Huntington’s Disease (HD) is a fatal, genetically based brain disorder in which there is progressive neuro-degeneration leading to motor, cognitive and psychiatric symptoms. HD affects 5 out of 100,000 people and symptoms usually occur at the age of late 40s.
  2. Age onset varies markedly, typically occurring between the ages of 35 and 50. The course is relentlessly progressive, with death usually occurring 15-20 years after disease onset.
  3. Cognitive abnormalities usually begin at about the same time as movement abnormalities. Cognitive speed and efficiency are relatively impaired. Cognitive deficits typically include an overall slowing of thinking processes, difficulty initiating and maintaining conversation, and an inability to learn new and/or abstract information.
  4. Motor speech deficits are both the most prominent and the most clearly described contributor to changes in communication. Individuals present an unpredictable speech pattern that may severely compromise clarity of speech.

Many of these types of disorders can be treated by speech therapy, but others require medical attention by a doctor in phoniatrics. Other treatments include correction of organic conditions and psychotherapy.

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