Quick Facts

  • Changes in speech are common after a brain injury and this can make communication difficult
  • Dysarthria refers to a difficulty making clear speech sounds due to motor control impairment
  • Difficulty or an inability to express oneself does not mean a loss of intelligence and their ability to understand language

What does it
look like?

  • Speech may be slurred or slushy sounding
  • Volume may be soft and very slow, or rate of speech may be too fast
  • Difficulty controlling the flow of air from the lungs

Possible Causes and Complications

  • Weakness, paralysis or lack of coordination of the muscles responsible for making speech sounds
  • Damage to the part of the brain involved in the control of muscles

What can we do?

  • Communicate in a quiet place (i.e. turn off the T.V. or radio), keep noise and light to a minimum, and keep the room cool and uncluttered
  • Encourage the person to speak slowly and split longer words up (i.e. dish-wash-er)
  • Don’t rush to make assumptions about what they are trying to say or pretend to understand
  • If you cannot understand, have them repeat one word at a time or try to phrase it in a different way
  • Jot down notes as they talk and repeat what you have understood
  • Ask simple questions if appropriate such as “point to…”, or “do you mean…”
  • Suggest that the individual:
    • Write information on paper
    • Try using a picture, word or alphabet board
    • Use gestures
    • Use communication aids provided by a healthcare provider

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to replace advice from a medical doctor. Consult a health care provider regarding specific medical concerns or treatment.