Speech disorders occur when a person is unable to produce speech sounds correctly or fluently or has problems with their voice or resonance. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) work to prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat speech, language, social communication, cognitive-communication, and swallowing disorders in children and adults. (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association)
The dystonias that most often impact speech and that benefit from speech therapy are Spasmodic/Laryngeal Dystonia (throat/vocal), Cranial Dystonia impacting the muscles around the mouth/cheeks or those involving swallowing, Dystonic Cerebral Palsy in children that results in issues with communication, saliva production, or swallowing, and Generalized Dystonia impacting the muscles of the face or neck. SLPs may work with patients to develop improved pitch and loudness control, phrasing and consistency of sound production, and breath control for verbal communication. They may also assist in developing non-verbal communication skills through augmentative and assistive communication devices such as utilizing gestures, pictures, or notes to overcome barriers in verbal communication. There is also a multitude of communication apps available to facilitate communication.
Finally, SLPs may assess a patient’s ability to swallow food and liquids. If a swallow study indicates a patient is not swallowing correctly, the SLP may work with the patient on developing proper chewing and swallowing techniques or modifying his/her diet to prevent choking and aspiration. These modifications may include soft food diets or using a straw when drinking. If a patient continues to lose control of the muscles required for chewing and swallowing, a dysphagia 1 or dysphagia 2 diet may be recommended.
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Speech and language therapy – The Dystonia Society London
Speech–Language Pathology Evaluation and Management of Hyperkinetic Disorders Affecting Speech and Swallowing Function – Tremor Other Hyperkinet Movements
Dysphagia in Dystonia – IntechOpen Open Access Peer Reviewed Chapter
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The medical information contained in this article is for general information only. It is not intended to provide instruction and you should not rely on this information to determine diagnosis, prognosis or a course of treatment. It is crucial that care and treatment decisions related to Dystonia and any other medical condition be made in consultation with a physician or other qualified medical professional.
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