Speech and Swallowing Disorders
From The MS Information Sourcebook, produced by the National MS Society.
Speech disorders are fairly common in MS. Speech patterns are controlled by many areas in the brain, especially the brainstem. Lesions-damaged areas-in different parts of the brain can cause several types of changes in normal speech patterns. They range from mild difficulties to severe problems that make it difficult to speak and be understood. Medically, speech disorders are called dysarthrias.
Slurred or Nasal Sounding Speech
Dysarthrias are commonly associated with other symptoms caused by lesions in the brainstem. These include tremor, head shaking, or incoordination.
Therapists can Evaluate and Help Improve Speech
If a person with MS becomes unable to speak, there are many assistive devices available. These range from alphabet cards to hand-held communicators that print out a tape, to computers that respond to eyeblinks.
Speech/Language Pathologists Treat Swallowing Problems
Kalb R. (ed.) Multiple Sclerosis: The Questions You Have; The Answers You Need (3rd ed.). New York: Demos Medical Publishing, 2004.
Schapiro R. Managing the Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis (5th ed.). New York: Demos Medical Publishing, 2007.
Last updated March 2006