Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Dysarthria Speech Therapy: Do Oral Motor Exercises Improve Speech?

Dysarthria Speech Therapy
Dysarthria Speech Therapy

Dysarthria Speech Therapy:  There are still speech therapists today who engage their patients in oral motor exercises, esp. the non-speech variety.  Some patients who can hardly speak, spend therapy time on exercises that do not involve the process of speaking.  Patients blow bubbles, air through a straw, lick peanut-butter off a spoon, or lick it off the upper lips etc.  The efficacy of these exercises is questionable esp. when no simultaneous speaking is practiced.  "Why aren't they practicing talking?; "Why are they blowing bubbles like children?"  "What's that got to do with speaking clarity?"

 Dysarthria Speech Therapy:  People with severe aphasia and dysarthria have some pretty complex speaking difficulties and non-speech oral-motor exercises could be easier than addressing the complex task of improving speaking.    Dysarthria speech therapy: The literature clearly states that working on moving the oral structures without speaking, would NOT be helpful unless the individual with the speaking difficulty could not move the tongue, lips or teeth.

Dysarthria Speech Therapy:  The clinical priority is to find a way to help others speak so they can be UNDERSTOOD.  The question for caregivers and therapists is:  How do I stimulate speaking clarity that would simultaneously improve the movements of the structures and muscles of speech?  The thought is to attempt to always address building muscular strength of the lips, teeth, and tongue while also teaching a person with speaking difficulty to speak and be understood. 

Dysarthria Speech Therapy:  The goal is to practice speaking in a certain way to get (1.) clarity or intelligibility while simultaneously moving the muscles and structures of  speaking.  

In these days of dwindling therapy visits and caps we must make each speech therapy visit count.   Patients receive speech therapy with one thought in mind; to talk better, to speak with more clarity, and to be understood.  That must be done in a very short period of time (“before the insurance runs out,”). That is why the truly elegant clinician is addressing speaking immediately with ways to compensate for the motor difficulty and show the person with the speaking difficulty a way of speaking that allows them to be understood by loved ones and friends. 

The Teaching of Talking is a philosophy and approach to the stimulation of speech and talking.    The method can simultaneously exercise and strengthen the muscles that have been affected by stroke, aphasia, motor dysfunction or traumatic head injury while also helping improve the clarity of speech.  

Dysarthria Speech Therapy:  Our number 1 priority as speech language pathologists should be to help the person who has a speaking difficulty speak with more clarity.  We all know how important it is to be understood.  The priority for those with speaking difficulties and their family members should be to find a speech language pathologist who places priority on the ability to speak, converse, and to be understood.  Here is the link to begin learning the Online Training Course for Caregivers and Therapists

Mark A. Ittleman, M.S., CCC/SLP is a speech language pathologist with over 40 years of direct patient care with both children and adults.  He is also the author of Teaching of Talking, a book written for caregivers, family members, loved ones, and speech language pathologists to help them develop simple and fun ways to stimulate speech and language without flash cards, workbooks and computer programs.  To find out more about the Teaching of Talking:  click here
You can also contact Mark personally through the website or Facebook .  

To get started helping your loved one with dysarthria speak with clarity  Teaching of Talking Online Training Course

Mark A. Ittleman, M.S., CCC/SLP
Speech Language Pathologist, 
Author: Teaching of Talking
Taking a Stand for Speaking Clarity Around the Globe.

In a paper delivered before the American Speech Language Hearing Association in 2010, Geofrey L. Lof, Phd. presented an update regarding the controversy of non-speech oral motor exercises.  In this lengthy paper, with numerous scientific references it was concluded that these exercises are not recommended as techniques that can improve speech productions in the treatment of dysarthria and aphasia. 
Click Here