Difference Between Apraxia and Dysarthria (With Table)

Both apraxia and dysarthria are motor speech disorders that can either occur at birth or later in life due to nervous system disorders. According to the experts, both apraxia and dysarthria are treatable motor speech disorders. The causes of these two diseases are different but in both cases, communication abilities need to be improved, hence the treatment is quite similar. 

Apraxia vs Dysarthria

The difference between apraxia and dysarthria is that apraxia is a complication that arises due to a disorder of the brain and nervous system whereas dysarthria occurs when coordination is absent among the muscles of a person and cannot produce speech. Patients with apraxia find it difficult to put the words together while speaking whereas dysarthria patients cannot speak clearly due to weak motor movements. 

Apraxia is caused mainly due to a brain injury, head trauma, stroke, or even a brain tumor. Experts still don’t have a clear answer regarding what exactly causes apraxia in childhood but the main reason can be improper signaling between the brain and the muscles used for speaking. Some of the common symptoms of apraxia are extensively using non-verbal communication, unable to pronounce complex words, unable to arrange the words in appropriate order, etc. 

Dysarthria can be caused due to cerebral palsy, brain tumor, Lyme disease, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, etc. Patients with dysarthria find it difficult to speak loudly or in a rhythmic tone. They produce a very monotonous and rapid speech which is difficult to comprehend. It is difficult for dysarthria patients to move their tongue and facial muscles properly. 

Comparison Table Between Apraxia and Dysarthria

Parameters of ComparisonApraxiaDysarthria
DisorderApraxia is defined as the disorder of the brain and nervous system. Dysarthria is defined as the disorder of muscles that are unable to coordinate and produce speech. 
SymptomsThe main symptoms of apraxia is unable to put the syllables of a word in the appropriate order and trying to use non-verbal communication excessively. The main symptoms of dysarthria are slurred and rapid speech and difficulty in moving the facial muscles. 
CausesThe main causes of apraxia are brain tumors, head injuries, stroke, or neurodegenerative disease. Some diseases that lead to the condition of dysarthria are Parkinson’s disease, Lyme disease, cerebral palsy, Huntington’s disease, etc. 
DiagnosisA speech-language pathologist interacts in several ways with the child and also examines the mouth, tongue, and face for any structural problems. Various image testings (MRI, CT scan),  brain biopsy, and neuropsychological tests are carried out. 
TreatmentConstant speech therapy, working with different rhythms and melodies and using multisensory approaches. Speech therapy to adjust speech rate, strengthening muscles, and improving articulation. 

What is Apraxia?

Apraxia is a neurological disorder as the patients suffering from this disease have well-functioning muscles yet find it difficult to carry our normal speech. The milder form of apraxia is known as dyspraxia. Patients suffering from apraxia find it difficult to use their tongue or move their facial muscles (winking, licking, etc) even though they can comprehend the action.

There are two types of apraxia, acquired apraxia and childhood apraxia. In the case of acquired apraxia, it happens to people of all ages and they lose the ability to speak or form proper words that they once possessed. This can happen due to a brain injury, brain tumor, trauma, etc. Children who have childhood apraxia have had motor speech disorder since birth. But, with proper treatment and speech therapy, they have a scope for huge improvement. 

During apraxia, many noticeable symptoms show up. Some of them are unable to put syllables of a word in an appropriate order, unable to pronounce complex and long words, using a non-verbal form of communication, unable to pronounce consonants at the beginning and end of a word, etc. Repetitive practice of pronunciation and working with rhythmic melodies help in recovering. 

What is Dysarthria?

Dysarthria is a speech motor disorder that occurs if a person has weak facial muscles or they find it hard to control. In the case of dysarthria, speech therapy and medications help a lot in improving the condition. Many nervous system disorders cause facial paralysis and it is one of the main causes of dysarthria. The common causes of dysarthria are Parkinson’s disease, Lyme disease, cerebral palsy, Huntington’s disease, head injury, multiple sclerosis, etc. 

Some of the common symptoms of the disease are slurred speech, speech at a very fast rate without any rhythm, inability to speak loudly and, strained voice, facing difficulty in moving the tongue or any other facial muscles, etc. Dysarthria is a serious motor speech disorder and one should consult the doctor immediately. 

There are several tests to diagnose dysarthria. Some of them are imaging tests (MRI and CT Scan), brain and nerve studies (EMG), blood and urine tests, brain biopsy, neuropsychological tests, etc. To cure dysarthria, constant speech therapy is extremely important. The main focus is given to strengthen the facial muscles and adjust speech rate during therapy. 

Main Differences Between Apraxia and Dysarthria

  1. Apraxia is known as the disorder of the brain and nervous system whereas dysarthria is the absence of proper coordination between the muscles that help in producing speech.
  2. People suffering from apraxia tend to communicate through non-verbal forms most of the time and they cannot put the syllables of a word in the right order while speaking. Patients with dysarthria are often noticed producing slurred and rapid speech. They also face difficulty in moving facial muscles. 
  3.  Some of the main causes of apraxia are brain tumors, head injuries, stroke, or neurodegenerative disease whereas Parkinson’s disease, Lyme disease, cerebral palsy, Huntington’s disease, etc often lead to dysarthria. 
  4. A speech-language pathologist often interacts with a child to understand which kind of syllables or sounds the child is unable to produce. The doctor also checks the structure of facial muscles. In case of dysarthria, MRI, CT Scan, brain biopsy, and neuropsychological tests are carried out. 
  5. Constant speech therapy and using multisensory approaches are the most effective treatments for apraxia. In the case of dysarthria, therapy to strengthen the facial muscles, adjust speed rate, and improve articulation is effective. 

Conclusion

Both apraxia and dysarthria are treatable speech motor disorders. Apraxia is common in childhood while dysarthria can arise at any age. Childhood apraxia affects a kid from birth but a lot of improvement takes place with proper therapy. Facial paralysis is one of the most common causes of dysarthria and thus can lead to speech disorders at any stage of life. 

Though the causes of these two diseases are different, patients affected by these diseases undergo a similar type of speech therapy. In apraxia, speech therapy helps in proper pronunciation and word formation while in dysarthria the same helps in strengthening the facial muscles. 

References

  1. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1959-06744-001
  2. https://pubs.asha.org/doi/abs/10.1044/jshr.1202.246
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