Another associated medical condition that relates to a diagnosis of cerebral palsy are speech difficulties. Individuals who have cerebral palsy can have any form of dysarthria and can also experience another speech impairment called aphasia.
Dysarthria is a motor speech disorder. It has occurred due to the impaired movement of the muscles that are used for the production of speech. This includes the lips, tongue, vocal folds, and/or the diaphragm. The severity and form of dysarthria depends on which part of the brain is involved.
The signs and symptoms of dysarthria can be characterized by:
- Slurred, choppy, or mumbled speech that can be difficult to understand.
- Slow rate of speech.
- Rapid rate of speech with a mumbling quality.
- A limitation of the movement with the lips, tongue, and jaw.
- Abnormal pitch and rhythm when articulating words.
- There is a change in the person’s voice quality. It can be seen in some as breathy, hoarse, or nasal sounds that appear to sound like a stuffy nose.
There are many etiologies that can cause a person to be diagnosed with any form of dysarthria. Some etiologies are stroke, brain injury, tumors, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease/amyotropic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Huntington’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.
A speech- language pathologist can help people who are affected by dysarthria manage their speech disorders by introducing therapeutic methods and techniques to help guide them so they can communicate better with those around them. Some of the treatments may include slowing the rate of speech, improving the breath support so the person can speak louder, strengthening muscles, increasing the tongue and lip movement, improving speech production so they can be clear when speaking, teaching caregivers, family members, and teachers how to communicate with the individual, and in severe cases, they will teach the person how to use alternative devices such as computers, alphabet boards, and simple gestures.
Aphasia is a condition that causes an individual to have an inability to communicate. Aphasia is usually seen in patients who have been diagnosed with spastic hemiplegic cerebral palsy. Even though it is a form of spastic cerebral palsy, spastic hemiplegia can stand alone as a separate motor movement disorder. Aphasia can have an effect on how the person speaks, writes, or understand language, whether verbal or nonverbal. Aphasia typically happens after a stroke or a brain injury. It can also manifests itself from a brain tumor or disease that causes progressive, permanent damage to the brain.
The most common cause of aphasia is the brain damage resulting from a stroke. The loss of blood to the brain leads to brain cell death or damage to the language areas of the brain.
Damage that is caused by severe head injury, a tumor, infection, or a degenerative disease can cause aphasia as well. In this case, the aphasia occurs with other cognitive problems, such as memory loss or confusion.
Primary progressive aphasia describes language difficulty that is gradual. This is due to the gradual decline of brain cells located in the language networks.
Symptoms that can lead to a diagnosis of aphasia include:
- Speaking in short or incomplete sentences.
- Speaking in sentences that do not make any sense.
- Substitute one word for another or one sound for another.
- Speak unrecognizable words.
- Do not understand other people’s conversation.
- Write sentences that don’t make any sense.
The types or forms of aphasia are:
Nonfluent Aphasia: There is damage to the language network near the left frontal area. This results in Broca’s aphasia. Broca’s aphasia is also known as nonfluent aphasia. Individuals affected by this type of aphasia have difficulty getting words out, they speak in short sentences, and omit words.
Fluent Aphasia: People with this form of aphasia may speak easily and fluently in complex, long sentences that do not make sense or that have unrecognizable, incorrect, or unnecessary words in it. For the most part, they do not understand verbal language and don’t realize that others can’t understand them. This form of aphasia is called Wernicke’s aphasia and is the result of damage to the language network in the middle left side of the brain.
Global Aphasia: This form results from extensive damage to the brain’s language network. These individuals have severe involvement in expression and comprehension.
Treatments for aphasia depends on the severity. If the person is affected mildly, then no treatment will be necessary. Most people go to a speech- language pathologist to improve their language skills and supplement their communication experiences.