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Motor Speech Disorders: Causes & Treatment

Sandeep Dhanyamraju
Medically reviewed by Chaitanya Bonda
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Sandeep Dhanyamraju
Medically reviewed by Chaitanya Bonda

Dealing with motor speech disorders means facing speech challenges due to muscle issues. Recognizing these signs early is crucial, whether it’s from a stroke, brain injury, or developmental condition.

Understanding the causes helps navigate the journey. Neurological issues like strokes or developmental conditions can impact speech. Early intervention is the key to better speech function.

Treatment involves speech therapy led by professionals. It focuses on improving muscle control and communication. Medications and, in some cases, surgery provide additional ways to address these challenges.

This exploration focuses on motor speech disorders. It emphasizes the difficulties and the hope that comes with effective treatment. Understanding the causes and embracing various treatments help improve speech function.

What is a Motor Speech Disorder?

Unlocking a motor speech disorder involves understanding the body’s muscle language. It’s like deciphering signals influencing speech production stemming from various causes.

These disorders arise when speaking muscles face hurdles. They involve weakness, coordination, or developmental complexities. Early recognition is crucial, leading to timely intervention for improved speech function.

Understanding a motor speech disorder is about decoding the puzzle of muscle movements in speech. It’s not just speech difficulties. It’s the intricate interplay of muscles influencing daily communication.

Motor Speech Function

Motor speech function is crucial for everyday communication. It involves coordinating facial muscles, breath support, sound production, and speech sequencing. When these functions face challenges, it affects daily communication.

Imagine speaking when facial muscle coordination is disrupted. It makes forming words and controlling tone difficult. Breath support influences voice strength and clarity, impacting the expression of thoughts.

Sound production and sequencing are equally crucial. Difficulties in these processes lead to unclear or disjointed speech. This hinders self-expression and understanding.

Recognizing and addressing these issues is the first step in managing motor speech disorders. Tailored interventions enhance overall function. They pinpoint challenges in facial muscle coordination, breath support, and sound production. This approach aims to improve an individual’s ability to communicate clearly.


Causes of Motor Speech Disorders

An infographic on motor speech disorders

Understanding what causes motor speech problems is essential for effective treatment. These disorders impact speech-muscle coordination and stem from various factors.

Unraveling the complexities of these factors provides insights into the diverse origins of speech disorders. This understanding forms the basis for targeted interventions.

Neurological Causes

Neurological causes arise from disruptions in the nervous system, affecting speech-related functions.

Brain tumors are a neurological factor impacting speech control areas. Consequently, it can lead to speech motor impairments. Similarly, infections like encephalitis, targeting the nervous system, lead to these speech challenges.

Among the neurological causes are:

  • Stroke. A common neurological trigger for such disorders is a stroke. This abrupt disruption of blood flow to the brain creates speech-related difficulties. They impact motor function. The aftermath of a stroke can manifest in challenges related to muscle coordination for speech production.
  • Traumatic brain injury. Another neurological cause is traumatic brain injury. Such injuries often result from accidents or severe head blows. Such injuries lead to disruptions in the brain’s structures. They directly interfere with the coordination of speech muscles. Individuals may face hurdles in articulating words and maintaining clear speech patterns.
  • Parkinson’s disease. Contributing to problems with speech is Parkinson’s disease, a neurodegenerative condition. The gradual degeneration associated with this disease affects the control and movement of speech-related muscles. This results in challenges in maintaining clarity and precision during speech.
  • ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). ALS, is a progressive motor neuron disease. The impact on nerve cells responsible for voluntary muscle control leads to difficulties in speech production. Individuals with ALS may experience slurred speech and challenges in expressing themselves verbally.

Knowing neurological causes is pivotal for tailoring interventions. The interventions address specific challenges in motor speech disorders. Whether triggered by a stroke, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, or ALS. Recognizing and addressing these causes early enhances the effectiveness of treatment strategies. This provides individuals with the support needed to navigate and overcome speech-related obstacles.

Developmental Causes

Exploring developmental causes unveils the roots of motor speech difficulties in early life.

Genetic predisposition, a developmental factor, influences susceptibility to motor speech impairments. Environmental factors, like prenatal conditions or early childhood experiences, also contribute.

Developmental causes include:

  • Childhood apraxia of speech. A developmental origin of motor speech problems is childhood apraxia of speech (CAS). This condition impacts children, creating hurdles in planning and coordinating speech movements. It’s like a puzzle where the pieces, in this case, speech movements, struggle to fit together seamlessly.
  • Dysarthria. It is a condition characterized by muscle weakness crucial for speech production. It’s akin to the intricate dance of muscles struggling to orchestrate clear speech.

Other Contributing Factors

Beyond neurological and developmental causes, genetic predisposition and environmental factors can influence motor speech issues: 

  • Genetic predisposition. A significant thread in speech disorders is genetic predisposition. These genetic factors act like unseen architects, influencing the blueprint of speech capabilities. It’s akin to unraveling the genetic code contributing to the nuanced tapestry of speech difficulties.
  • Environmental factors. In addition to genetics, the environment plays a pivotal role in shaping the complexities of such disorders. Imagine it as the backdrop against which speech challenges unfold. Environmental factors encompass a myriad of influences. They vary from renatal conditions to early childhood experiences. These external forces add unique layers to the general picture. 

These factors add layers to the complexity of understanding and managing these disorders. Genetic factors act like threads woven into the fabric of speech challenges. At the same time, environmental influences can serve as the backdrop shaping these complexities.

Delving into these developmental causes sheds light on the intricacies of motor speech problems. It aids in tailoring effective interventions.


Motor Speech Disorders Treatment

A woman pointing to phonetic symbols written on a whiteboard

Navigating motor speech disorders treatment involves a multi-step approach for improvement and support. Key components include speech therapy, medication, and, in some cases, surgical interventions.

Speech therapy, led by professionals, focuses on exercises. Such activities aim to enhance muscle control and communication skills. Medications address underlying conditions contributing to speech issues. Surgical interventions correct physical abnormalities affecting speech production.

Understanding these components allows for tailored interventions. They can foster effective communication and enhance quality of life. 

Speech Therapy

Speech therapy, conducted by skilled speech-language pathologists, is central to treating motor speech difficulties. These therapists assess facial muscle strength, breath support, articulation, and sound sequencing. 

The core of speech therapy lies in precise goals crafted to enhance muscle control. Besides, it aims to refine speech sound placements and improve communication skills. This personalized approach empowers people to overcome speech challenges.

Speech therapy isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Therapists employ various techniques, exercises, and activities to address specific challenges. This personalized intervention fosters a supportive environment, encouraging progress in speech-motor control.


Medications emerge as a potential ally in the treatment journey. The prescription of medications aligns with a broader strategy. It aims to manage symptoms and improve speech function. These medications act as targeted tools. They hone in on specific causes and factors influencing motor speech disorders.

Essential medications in the arsenal:

  • Muscle relaxants. These medications help alleviate muscle tension and spasms. They contribute to improved muscle control, which is crucial for speech function.
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs. Targeting inflammation, these drugs can address conditions affecting facial muscles and their coordination.
  • Neuroprotective medications. These medications, designed to protect and support nerve cells, may be employed. They aim to mitigate the impact of neurodegenerative conditions on speech motor coordination.

While medications play a crucial role, they often work hand-in-hand with other interventions. The collaborative approach aims to address motor speech challenges comprehensively. It recognizes the unique challenges posed by each individual case.

Surgical Interventions

Surgical interventions are an accurate approach for specific cases of motor speech problems. Surgical interventions come into consideration when structural abnormalities aggravate speech difficulties.

Types of surgical interventions that may be applied include:

  • Palatoplasty. This surgical procedure focuses on repairing or reshaping the palate. It addresses issues that impact speech sound placements.
  • Pharyngoplasty. Targeting the pharynx, this intervention aims to enhance the function of the throat. 
  • Nerve repair. Nerve damage can also affect speech-related muscles. In such cases, surgical interventions may involve repairing or reconstructing damaged nerves.

Surgical interventions aim to correct physical issues at the root of speech challenges. These surgeries target the specific factors influencing speech motor control. No matter if it is repairing structures in the oral cavity or addressing nerve damage.

While surgical interventions offer a precise tool, they often complement other interventions. Speech therapy and medications are part of this complementary approach. The collaborative approach ensures a comprehensive treatment plan. It recognizes the multifaceted nature of such disorders.


Understanding the causes of motor speech disorders is vital for effective treatment. The issues may stem from neurological conditions. Additionally, they may result from developmental factors or a combination of influences. Addressing these issues early enhances the chances of successful intervention. Speech therapy, medications, and surgical options provide a multifaceted approach. 

At Lone Star Neurology, our commitment extends to those facing such disorders. As a leading medical clinic, our mission is clear: to offer the best possible care to our patients. Neurology specialists at Lone Star Neurology Clinic diagnose various neurological conditions. They treat different diseases, including motor speech issues. With a personalized approach, we aim to empower our clients. We offer a compassionate hand in coping with the challenges of such disorders. Your well-being is our priority. 

Explore the world of neurological care on the Lone Star Neurology Blog. You can discover valuable insights on diagnosis, treatment, and more there. 


What are the common signs of motor speech disorders?

Common signs include difficulty articulating words. Additionally, there are challenges in coordinating facial muscles for speech and slurred speech.


Is it possible to prevent motor speech disorders?

While not entirely preventable, early intervention can significantly improve outcomes. Addressing contributing factors is vital to this improvement.


How long does motor speech disorder treatment typically last?

The duration varies. However, consistent speech therapy and other interventions may be required over an extended period.


Are there any alternative therapies for motor speech disorders?

Speech therapy is primary. However, some individuals explore alternative therapies like music or art therapy. Always consult with healthcare professionals for personalized recommendations.

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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
Steve Nabavi
Steve Nabavi
16:28 16 Mar 22
It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any more
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis
16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
Joshua Martinez
Joshua Martinez
16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going more
Isabel Ivy
Isabel Ivy
21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my more
Leslie Luce
Leslie Luce
17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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