Similarities & Differences Between Apraxia & Dysarthria

What is Apraxia and Dysarthria?

Apraxia and dysarthria are both speech disorders, but they differ in their underlying causes and symptoms.

Apraxia is a motor speech disorder that results from damage to the parts of the brain responsible for planning and coordinating the movements needed for speech. Individuals with apraxia may have difficulty initiating and sequencing the movements required to produce speech sounds, even though the muscles involved in speech are intact. This can result in speech that is slow, effortful, and characterized by errors in sound production.

Dysarthria, is also a motor speech disorder, however it results from damage to the parts of the brain responsible for controlling the muscles used in speech. This can cause weakness, paralysis, or incoordination of the muscles involved in speech production. Individuals with dysarthria may have slurred or distorted speech, reduced volume, and difficulty with articulation and intonation.

Important Brain Areas

So since apraxia is results from damage to the parts of the brain responsible for planning and coordinating the movements, what parts of the brain are we taking about? Well if you said cerebellum, you’re a stud! If you didn’t then your just like the rest of us! The cerebellum is located at the back of the brain, beneath the occipital and temporal lobes of the cerebral cortex, and is responsible for fine-tuning motor movements, regulating balance, posture, and coordination, and ensuring smooth and balanced muscular activity. While other areas of the cerebrum, such as the motor cortex in the frontal lobe, initiate and coordinate movements, the cerebellum is responsible for the precise execution and control of those movements.

But wait, that sound like the same area for dysarthria? Correct, but there are other areas that affect people who have dysarthria. Such as, the basal ganglia, which is involved in controlling movement and posture; the motor cortex, which controls voluntary muscle movements; and the brainstem, which controls automatic functions like breathing and swallowing. Damage to any of these areas can result in difficulties in controlling the muscles used in speech production and lead to dysarthria.

Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that apraxia/dysarthria can also look like an orofacial myofunctional disorder. If you or your child is a mouth breather, its imperative to address the weaker facial and oral muscles in confluence with apraxia/dysarthria treatment. If you don’t know what orofacial myofucntional disorder is, go check out out this blog article. Alright, next time we’ll be going over language disroders!

Israel Montano