To speak clearly, we need the muscles in our vocal cords, diaphragm, tongue, and lips to work in unison. When the brain cannot control these muscles properly, a person has trouble speaking and making himself understood. This condition is dysarthria, a motor speech disorder that affects respiration, airflow direction, laryngeal function, articulation, and phonation.
Depending on the muscles involved, dysarthria can make people speak in a flat, hoarse voice, loudly, quietly, or with jerky inflections. Sometimes people mumble or must strain to speak. They may slur their speech or speak too slowly or fast. When dysarthria affects the muscles of the lips and the tongue, the condition can interfere with swallowing and chewing and cause drooling, as well. These symptoms can make people with dysarthria harder to understand. In some cases, they can only use single words or short phrases, and their speech may be completely unintelligible at times.
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