Dysarthria is a condition that occurs when there are problems with the muscles that help you talk. Most times, dysarthria occurs:
As a result of brain damage after a stroke, head injury, or brain cancer
When there is damage to the nerves of the muscles that help you talk
When there is an illness of the nervous system, such as myasthenia gravis
Tips for Communicating Better
Some simple changes in the way you talk with a person who has dysarthria can make a difference.
Turn off the radio or TV.
Move to a quieter room if needed.
Make sure lighting in the room is good.
Sit close enough so that you and the person who has dysarthria can use visual cues.
Make eye contact with each other.
The person who has dysarthria and their family may need to learn different ways of communicating. Some of these are:
Using hand gestures
Writing by hand what you are saying
Using a computer to type out the conversation
Using alphabet boards, if muscles used for writing and typing are also affected
If you do not understand the patient, do not just agree with them. Ask them to speak again. Tell them what you think they said and ask them to repeat it. Ask the person to say it in a different way. Ask them to slow down so that you can make out their words, if needed.
Listen carefully and allow the person to finish. Be patient. Make eye contact with them before speaking, if possible. Give positive feedback for their effort.
Ask questions in a way that they can answer you with a simple "yes" or "no."
Suggestions for a patient with dysarthria:
Try to speak slowly.
Use short phrases.
Pause between your sentences to make sure the person listening to you understands.
Use hand gestures.
Use pencil and paper or a computer to write out what you are trying to say, if needed.
Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, and Department of Anatomy at UCSF, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.