Speech disorders occur when an individual has difficulty communicating through speech. Patients may have difficulty pronouncing sounds, talking in a fluent rhythm, or have abnormalities in the pitch, quality, or volume of speech. Speech disorders may be serious, minor, temporary, or permanent.
Individuals are able to create vocal sounds when the vocal cords vibrate. The vocal cords are a pair of fibrous tissue that lie across the air column in the middle of the voice box (called the larynx).
There are many possible causes of speech disorders, including hearing loss, neurological disorders (such as Parkinson's disease), brain injuries, mental retardation, drug abuse, physical impairments (such as a cleft lip or palate), and overuse of the voice. However, in many cases, the exact cause of the speech disorder is unknown.
Usually, speech disorders can be improved with speech-language therapy. In some cases, surgery may be needed to correct a physical problem (such as a cleft palate) that is causing symptoms. Early diagnosis and treatment has been shown to increase an individual's long-term prognosis.
Aphasia, articulation deficiencies, articulation disorders, Broca's aphasia, dysarthria, dysfluency, dysfluency disorder, language, larynx, speech, speech-language pathologist, speech pathologist, stuttering, vocal cords, vocal disorders, vocal flaps, voice box, voice therapy, Wernicke's aphasia.