muscular dystrophy

Speech tips for Muscular Dystrophy

Speech tips for Muscular Dystrophy

A muscular dystrophy is a group of diseases that runs in families. This blog is on Speech tips for Muscular Dystrophy. This disease damages and weakens the muscles. These changes happen over time slowly.  This weakness is due to the lack of protein “dystrophin”. Muscle issues lead to difficulty in motor functions. For example, walking, speaking, swallowing, etc. There is no known cure for Muscular Dystrophy. Speech tips for Muscular Dystrophy is below.

Symptoms of Muscular Dystrophy

Firstly, let’s know the issues faced by a person with MD. The issues related to speech and swallowing abilities depend on the type of Muscular Dystrophy.

There is weakness in the muscles of the lips, tongue, palate, cheeks, etc. Further, this affects the speech.

Symptoms in Types of Muscular Dystrophy

  • In Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) speech issues are seen. Additionally, people have word-finding errors. Also, non-fluent speech.
  • People with Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy (FSHD). They have issues with resonance. Furthermore, their speech will be nasal. FSHD is present in the infantile period, the speech issues are more. People have oral muscle weakness, dysarthria, monotonous speech. Alos, pausing in words, and higher pitch. Further, hearing loss can also increase these issues.
  • People with Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy Type 1A (LGMD 1A). They have isolated bulbar symptoms. They have symptoms of dysarthria and dysphagia. Moreover, due of weak tongue and pharynx muscles.
  • Oculopharyngeal Muscular Dystrophy (OPMD) in people. This causes weakness in the muscles of the tongue and pharynx. Further, causing dysarthria and dysphagia.
  • Myotonic Dystrophy Type 1 (DM1) in children causes speech deficits. Further, issues with bilabial sounds and speech sounds. The speech is hypernasal. In addition to this, they also have a hoarse voice, slow rate of speech. Also, less loudness because of muscle weakness.

However, irrespective of the type, all the people have speech deficits.

Speech therapy results depend on the kind of Muscular Dystrophy. Further, its signs and the extent of the disease. Most treatments are for symptoms seen. The same is the case with speech therapy. For you to know, we have put speech therapy ideas into two groups.

Speech Therapy for Muscular Dystrophy

1. Persons with mild issues in speech.

In this group, some persons have speech deficits but can handle them well. In other words, this is to increase the strength and endurance of muscles. Some of the exercises are:

a) Oro-motor exercises for speech muscles. This is for the strength and coordination of muscles. Furthermore, the throat, tongue, cheeks, mouth, diaphragm, soft palate, and lip muscles.


b) Articulation training: It is for people with speech sound errors. Therefore, it includes:

      • Phonetic placement
      • Exaggerating the articulation
      • Talk slowly and more clearly
      • Take a breath in between
      • Speak in shorter utterances 

c) Voice training: For people with voice issues. Some of the speech therapy ideas are:

      • Training for breath support
      • Pharyngeal strengthening
      • Breath-holding
      • Coordination for breathing and talking
      • Good vocal hygiene
      • Respiratory muscle training
      • Focus on abdominal breathing
      • Pausing and talking


c) Vowel prolongation: It is for patients with less loud voice. Few things done are:

      • Good breath support
      • Quick inhalation and prolonged exhalation
      • Prolong the vowel are the end of the word
      • Emphasize the vowel in an utterance

d) Further, a combination of the above along with good feedback.



2. People with unintelligible speech 

The speech is affected in the last stages of the disease. There is weakness in the muscles of the body. Thus working on one sub-system will not give good results. An SLP will work on the persons needs. Alternative and Augmentative Communication is advised. This includes,

  1. Unaided modes such as manual signs, gestures, and fingerspelling
  2. In case the hand functions are limited/compromised, aided symbol systems are advised
  3. For persons who have issues like soft voice. Devices like Personal Voice Amplifiers, Artificial Phonation devices such as electrolarynx are given.
  4. Further, with the advance in science. Furthermore, tablet or app-based programs is advised.  Similar to,  Avaz, Jellow.


Therefore, the choice of the AAC device depends on many things. Hence, the SLP will help you with the right approach to therapy.

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  • drhoseinisianaki

    hi thanks for your effort, this is good article about speech thrapy in muscular dystrophy.
    I translated to my language.
    good luck

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