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What Is Flaccid Dysarthria?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 17 September 2014
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Flaccid dysarthria is a medical term used to describe a type of voice disorder that results from damage to one or more of the cranial nerves responsible for speech. Physical trauma, stroke, and the presence of tumors are potential causes of this disorder. Additional medical conditions which may result in flaccid dysarthria include polio, myasthenia gravis, and Guillain-Barre syndrome. Speech problems, uncontrollable drooling, and nerve paralysis are common symptoms. A doctor should be consulted in order to develop an individualized treatment plan for flaccid dysarthria, which may include a combination of physical therapy and prescription medication.

The cranial nerves travel from the brain to the facial area and are responsible for such functions as the ability to speak and swallow. Damage to these nerves can lead to a variety of medical problems, including flaccid dysarthria. A traumatic injury, such as an automobile accident or a direct blow to the head, often contributes to the development of this disorder, although some medical conditions may also lead to flaccid dysarthria. Tumors can compress the nerves and lead to speech problems, and in many cases, removal of the abnormal growth resolves the symptoms of the disorder.

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A stroke is a medical emergency caused by an interruption in the blood supply to the brain. Chronic hypertension, blood clots, and elevated cholesterol levels are among the possible causes of a stroke. Damage to the brain tissue as well as the associated blood vessels and nerves often occurs as a result of a stroke, and flaccid dysarthria is a potential complication of this type of damage. Disease processes such as myasthenia gravis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, and polio have also been reported as possible causes as they are known for causing various types of nerve damage, pain, and partial or complete paralysis of the affected muscles and nerves.

Some of the symptoms of flaccid dysarthria include difficulty involving elevation of the jaw, reduced airway capacity, and partial or complete paralysis of the associated nerves. These problems may cause pronunciation difficulties, an inability to speak loudly, or trouble completing phrases. Muscle atrophy may lead to visible facial sagging, drooling, or paralysis. Physical therapy and gentle stretching exercises are the typical treatment methods used to treat flaccid dysarthria, although prescription medication or surgical intervention may be necessary in the most extreme cases. The supervising physician develops an individualized treatment plan based upon the patient's specific needs.

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