Apraxia

Apraxia of speech is considered a neurogenic speech disorder resulting in an impairment in the motor planning of speech muscles for the production of speech.

It can occur without muscular weakness and the absence of language and cognitive disorders. Apraxia is caused by damage to the part of the brain which causes muscle movements to occur. These causes may include stroke, traumatic brain injury, dementia, tumours and/or degenerative neurological disorders.

Symptoms of Apraxia

  1. Substitutions: the patient says one sound instead of another.
  2. Additions: the patient adds in an extra sound.
  3. Repetitions: the patient repeats part of or a whole word.
  4. Prolongations: the patient says one sound longer than they should.
  5. Distortion errors.
  6. Difficulty in imitating speech sounds.
  7. Sequencing errors.
  8. Articulatory groping.
  9. Methathetic errors. (spoonerism)
  10. Increase in errors with increased length & complexity of utterances.
  11. Inconsistent speech errors.

Different types of apraxia

  • Oral Apraxia:

Oral apraxia is the difficulty to voluntarily perform movements which involve the facial muscles such as the lips, cheeks and tongue. For example, they may not be able to wink, or stick their tongue out when requested to.

  • Apraxia of speech (also known as  Verbal Apraxia):

Apraxia of speech occurs when the patient has difficult in moving the tongue into the correct position to form sounds, words and sentence. This may occur even though the patient has the desire and intent to carry out these movements.

The speech therapist’s role in Apraxia

The speech therapist will work with a patient who has apraxia to ‘retrain’ the speech muscles in order to improve the ability to speak and communicate. This includes retraining to correctly produce and sequence sounds into words as well as oral motor movements (tongue, lips and cheeks). In severe cases, the speech therapists may introduce another form of communication, such as gestures or the use of electronic equipment, also known as augmentative and alternative communication.