Kathryn M. Yorkston, Ph.D., BC-NCD, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.
David Beukelman, Ph.D., Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Munroe-Meyer Institute for Genetics and Rehabilitation, University of Nebraska, Omaha, NE.
Laura Ball, Ph.D., Munroe-Meyer Institute for Genetics and Rehabilitation, University of Nebraska, Omaha, NE.
This article describes intervention for dysarthria associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Five critical periods are presented including a stage with normal speech, detectable speech disturbance, behavioural intervention, use of augmentative communication, and loss of useful speech. Intervention strategies at each of these stages are outlined with the goal of maintaining functional communication regardless of the severity of dysarthria.
ALS is a rapidly progressive degenerative disease of unknown etiology involving the motor neurons of both the brain and spinal cord.1 The symptoms characteristic of ALS are generally classified by site of involvement (that is, upper motor neuron versus lower motor neuron) and by whether spinal nerves (those innervating the arms and legs) or bulbar nerves (those innervating the muscles of speech and swallowing) are involved.