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Dysarthria: Improving Speech

Dysarthria is a speech problem caused by a lack of control over the muscles in the face and mouth. Clearer, smoother speech is the goal of rehabilitation. A speech therapist (an expert trained in speech rehabilitation) will work to help the patient regain vocal control.

Speech Therapy

Patients may be taught to control and strengthen muscles in the face and mouth. Such exercises are often done in front of a mirror. Patients may also be taught new ways of breaking up words or making sounds. For instance, your loved one may be told to:

  • Pronounce each sound in each word.

  • Focus on one word at a time rather than on entire sentences.

  • Tap a finger with each syllable.

  • Control breathing during speech.

Patient and spouse

You Can Help

Speech, like any skill, gets better with practice. Talk to the person as you normally would. Say what you need to say, then wait for an answer. Try these tips:

  • Practice saying sounds and words with your loved one. The speech therapist may provide word lists.

  • Remind the person to speak slowly. This gives him or her time to make all the sounds that form each word.

  • Ask the person to repeat words you cannot understand. Or, ask the patient to try saying it another way.

  • Try not to speak for the person unless it is necessary.

  • Praise any effort at speech that the person makes.

 

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