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Intensive dysarthria therapy for younger children with cerebral palsy

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Lindsay Pennington, Dr Ella Roelant, Sheila Robson, Dr Nick Steen, Emeritus Professor Nick Miller



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


Aim: To investigate if intervention targeting breath support, phonation and speech rate increases speech intelligibility and participation in conversational interactions of young children with dysarthria and cerebral palsy (CP). Methods: Fifteen children with dysarthria and CP (nine male, six female; 5-11 years (M=8, SD = 2); CP type: 8 spastic, 4 dyskinetic, 1 ataxia, 2 Worster Drought; GMFCS II-IV (median=II)) participated. Children received three sessions of individual therapy per week for six weeks. Intelligibility of single words and connected speech was compared across five points: one and six weeks before therapy, one, six and twelve weeks after therapy. Three familiar listeners and three unfamiliar listeners scored each recording. Participation in communicative interactions was measured using the FOCUS - Focus on the Outcomes of Communication Under Six. ANOVAs and paired t- tests were used to investigate change. Results: Mean speech intelligibility increased after therapy to familiar listeners (single words=10.8%, 95% CI 7.2-14.4%; connected speech=9.4%, 95% CI 4.8-14.1%) and unfamiliar listeners (single words=9.3%, 95% CI 6.8-11.8%; connected speech=10.5%, 95% CI 7.3-13.8%). FOCUS scores increased following therapy for parents (mean increase = 30.3, 95% CI 10.2, 50.4) and for teachers (28.25, 95% CI 14.4, 42.1)), but changes did not correlate with intelligibility. Wide variation was seen in response by individuals. Interpretation: Brief intensive therapy is associated with gains in intelligibility and communicative interactions for some younger children with dysarthria.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Pennington L, Roelant E, Thomson V, Robson S, Steen N, Miller N

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology

Year: 2013

Volume: 55

Issue: 5

Pages: 464-471

Print publication date: 01/05/2013

Online publication date: 26/02/2013

Acceptance date: 16/11/2012

Date deposited: 06/10/2014

ISSN (electronic): 1469-8749

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/dmcn.12098


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