Neurogenic communication disorders are caused by damage to the central or peripheral nervous system. Most commonly, a person acquires a neurogenic communication disorder as a result of an acute event such as a traumatic brain injury or stroke, or as a result of a progressive disorder. The three most common types of acquired neurogenic communication disorders are aphasia, apraxia, and dysarthria. Please see below for additional information regarding their causes and effects and as well as possible therapeutic interventions.
Apraxia of Speech
Apraxia of speech is a motor sequencing disorder. In other words, a person with apraxia of speech has difficulty planning and performing complex sequenced movements such as speaking words. More simply, although there is no muscle weakness or physiological problem with a person’s jaw, lips, or tongue, the message from the brain to the articulators cannot be interpreted properly. Adults with acquired apraxia of speech often feel frustrated as they know what they would like to say but have difficulty speaking the words.
Dysarthria refers to a group of acquired neurogenic speech disorders where the muscles used for speaking are weak, uncoordinated, or paralyzed. Dysarthria can greatly affect a person’s speech intelligibility or how well they can be understood. Additionally, dysarthria affects a person’s ability to sound natural when they’re speaking negatively impacting overall functional communication.
Aphasia is an acquired neurogenic language disorder that affects an individual’s ability to speak words, understand spoken language, read, and write. People diagnosed with aphasia often have relatively intact nonlinguistic cognitive skills such as memory and executive function. There are many types of aphasia and proper diagnosis will help a team of professionals including a speech and language pathologist determines a proper course of treatment.
How Can These Disorders be Treated?
Acquired neurogenic communication disorders are treated by speech and language pathologists. Depending on the severity and type of disorder, speech therapy can be incredibly helpful both to the patient and the caregivers within the family.
Although acquired neurogenic communication disorders are often life-changing for the patient and his or her family, progress towards more functional communication can be achieved with proper individualized care. If you or your loved one has an acquired neurogenic communication disorder, seeking evaluation and treatment from a licensed speech and language pathologist may help.