By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
Apraxia of speech is an acquired motor speech disorder that prevents a person from being able to use motor planning to translate words they plan to say into actual speech. The condition occurs as a loss of a previous speaking ability due to brain damage as a result of stroke or injury, for example.
Some of the steps taken in the diagnosis of this condition are described below:
- A speech–language pathologist conducts a full evaluation of speaking ability and language comprehension
- Articulation and phonology are evaluated
- The rhythm, pitch, and rate of speech are assessed
- The pronunciation of vowels and consonants is examined
- The patient’s ability to perform oral mechanisms such as pursing the lips, lifting the tongue, blowing and licking the lip is assessed
- Reading and writing ability are assessed.
- Apraxia of speech is often mistaken for a condition called Broca’s Aphasia (expressive aphasia). Although the conditions both stem from damage in the brain’s language centre and present with difficulty producing sounds, the ability to comprehend language differs significantly between the two conditions. Those with apraxia are fully capable of understanding speech, while those with aphasia are not always capable.
- Apraxia of speech also presents with similar symptoms to conduction aphasia. Although patients with both conditions fully comprehend speech, individuals affected by conduction aphasia are usually able to speak fluently but cannot repeat words they hear.
- Another speech disorder that needs to be ruled out is dysarthria, which affects a person’s ability to articulate sounds. In dysarthria, however, the difficulty is caused by weakness or disability of the muscles present in the face, mouth or respiratory system.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc
Last Updated: Sep 17, 2014