Speech and Voice Disorders

Speech and voice disorders relate to an individual having difficulty with his or her voice and/or articulating sounds clearly, fluently and correctly. It may occur in children as part of developmental delay, or in adults who suffer from neurological conditions, or naturally due to the aging process.

Apraxia of speech is a motor speech disorder that occurs when there is a disruption in messages from the brain to the mouth. This causes a lack of co-ordination when producing sounds and is marked by speech distortions and substitutions. The condition can be very frustrating for the individual.

Dysarthria is also a motor speech disorder and commonly occurs alongside apraxia, but is defined by impairments of the muscles needed for producing speech sounds. This includes the lips, tongue, vocal cords and even the diaphragm. Individuals with dysarthria may slur or mumble, talk slowly, experience changes in the voice quality and may also suffer from difficulty swallowing or chewing.

Also known as stuttering, this is a condition in which a person experiences distorted speech by blocks or spasms interrupting the rhythm of communication. The rhythm may be interrupted by repetitions and/or prolongations of sounds or syllables, sometimes accompanied by contortions of the face and body. People often feel embarrassed when it happens, and it can have a strong influence on a person’s quality of life.

Voice is the result of sound waves and the correct co-ordination of vocal cord vibrations. The voice is then modified as it travels through the pharynx, palate, tongue, mouth and lips, where recognisable speech and sounds are projected.
Sometimes alterations in the vocal folds can cause changes to the voice. These can be acute due to trauma, emotional or allergic reactions, inhalations, stroke or severe infection, or they can occur slowly due to degenerative conditions, tension, acid reflux or years of vocal misuse.

  • Vocal cord nodules and polyps
  • Vocal ulcers
  • Spasmodic Dysphonia
  • Vocal fold paralysis