Dysarthria in Adults

Signs and symptoms of dysarthria include perceptual speech characteristics and physical signs that vary by dysarthria type (see Distinguishing Perceptual Speech Characteristics and Physical Findings by Dysarthria Type). Dysarthria can alter speech intelligibility and/or speech naturalness by disrupting one or more of the five speech subsystems—respiration, phonation, articulation, resonance, and prosody.

Perceptual Speech Characteristics

Perceptual speech characteristics are grouped below by the subsystem that contributes most to the feature, recognizing that it is difficult to associate some characteristics with specific subsystems. For example, reduced loudness may be a laryngeal problem for some individuals and a respiratory problem for others. In addition, due to the interactive nature of the speech subsystems, disruptions in one subsystem can have an impact on others. For example, impairments in respiration, phonation, articulation, and/or resonance may be responsible for prosodic deficits.

Respiration (Breathing)

  • Short phrases
  • Reduced loudness
  • Monoloudness
  • Excessive loudness variation
  • Loudness decay
  • Forced expiration/inspiration

Phonation (Laryngeal)

  • Pitch level (too low/too high)
  • Monopitch
  • Pitch breaks
  • Aberrant voice quality (roughness, breathiness, strain; or harsh, hoarse, strain)
  • Diplophonia
  • Vocal flutter
  • Voice tremor
  • Voice stoppages
  • Audible inhalation/inhalatory stridor
  • Grunt at ends of phrases


  • Imprecise consonants
  • Distorted vowels
  • Irregular articulatory breakdown
  • Articulatory blurring

Resonance (Velopharyngeal)

  • Hypernasality
  • Denasality or hyponasality (oral resonance on nasal consonants)
  • Audible nasal emission/nasal snort


  • Aberrant rate (too fast/too slow/accelerating/variable)
  • Short rushes of speech
  • Reduced stress
  • Excessive and equal stress
  • Prolonged intervals
  • Inappropriate silences

Physical Signs

Physical signs may include the following:

  • Muscle wasting
  • Abnormal muscle tone at rest
  • Fasciculations
  • Tremor (e.g., head, jaw, lip, tongue, velum)
  • Weakness (e.g., tongue, lower face, velum)
  • Involuntary movements (e.g., head, jaw, face, tongue, velum)
  • Abnormal reflexes (e.g., hypo- or hyperactive gag reflex, jaw jerk, sucking or snout reflexes)

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