How we can help people with dysarthria

Dysarthria is a motor speech disorder which is caused by damage to the nervous system. The neurological damage will cause the muscles used for speech to become weak or uncoordinated. There are many different types of dysarthria which will vary depending upon the underlying neurological cause.

Speech and language therapy will help individuals with dysarthria by creating an individualised treatment programme which will vary depending on the type of dysarthria and the underlying cause. Speech and language therapy will aim to maximise the individual’s communication by helping to improve their intelligibility (how well they are understood by others) of their speech.

What is dysarthria?

Dysarthria is a motor speech disorder caused by damage to the nervous system. Dysarthria will affect an individual’s ability to articulate (ability to speak clearly and coherently) speech sounds, which will cause a difficulty in producing speech effectively. The neurological damage which causes dysarthria results in impairment to any of the muscles used for speech, causing them to become paralysed, weak or uncoordinated.

There are many different types of dysarthria which vary depending on the underlying neurological damage. Each dysarthria will present with different symptoms which will vary in severity.

The main types of dysarthria include:

Hyperkinetic dysarthria

This type of dysarthria is caused by myoclonic and choreiform disorders (rapid or jerky movements), for example, Huntington’s disease. Hyperkinetic dysarthria is affected by abnormal rate and rhythm of speech, uncoordinated articulation and segments of sounds being deleted from words.

Hypokinetic dysarthria

Hypokinetic dysarthria most commonly occurs with Parkinson’s disease. This type of dysarthria is characterised by poor articulation and worsening of speech in sentences and conversation in comparison with single words which will often sound clear.

Spastic dysarthria

Spastic dysarthria is caused by damage to the upper motor neurons. This type of dysarthria affects all areas of speech including respiration, voice and intonation. Individuals with spastic dysarthria will commonly have a hoarse voice.

Flaccid dysarthria

Flaccid dysarthria is caused by damage to the lower motor neurons. Common characteristics include: hypernasality; nasal emission of air; breathiness during speech, audible inspiration and distorted consonants.

Mixed dysarthria

Mixed dysarthria is caused by impairment to more than one part of the nervous system. Characteristics can include any of the symptoms seen in any of the other types of dysarthria.

What causes dysarthria?

Dysarthria is caused by damage to the nervous system. Common conditions which cause damage to the nervous system include cerebral palsy, cranial nerve damage, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and stroke.

How is dysarthria diagnosed?

Dysarthria will be diagnosed by a team of medical professionals. The speech and language therapist will play a key role in the assessment, identification and treatment of dysarthria.

What problems caused by dysarthria can SLT UK help with?

Speech and language therapy can help with many aspects of speech and language difficulties experienced by individuals with dysarthria, these can include attention, listening, speech sound, communication, voice and swallowing difficulties.

How does speech and language therapy help dysarthria?

Speech and language therapy is very beneficial for individuals with dysarthria. The speech and language therapist will maximise an individual’s ability to communicate through increasing their speech intelligibility or facilitating their speech with a communication aid. The type of treatment used will be dependent on a number of factors including: the individual’s wishes, the type and severity of their dysarthria and the underlying cause of their dysarthria. An individualised treatment programme for dysarthria may include:

Speech and language therapy can be extremely beneficial for an individual with dysarthria, speech and language therapy may reduce a patient's stress and anxiety whilst increasing their confidence. This may open up more work and social opportunities for the individual as their speech continues to improve and strategies to communicate develop.

What would speech and language therapy treatment for dysarthria involve?

Speech and language therapy will involve an initial assessment which will help to determine what type of dysarthria the individual has and also the severity of their symptoms. An initial assessment will also allow the therapist to decide on what the best treatment option will be.

After this, treatment may involve therapy programmes, groups, training, advice and education.


Dysarthria is a motor speech disorder resulting from a neurological impairment and affects the muscles involved in the production of speech. Speech and language therapy is very beneficial and will offer an individualised treatment plan to suit the specific needs of the individual.

If you feel you may benefit from speech and language therapy or would like any more information on our services please email office@slt.co.uk or call 0330 088 5643.

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Speech disorders Cluttering Stuttering Lisp Speech sound disorder Dysarthia
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