What is the role of speech therapy in the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)?

Updated: Jan 02, 2020
  • Author: Divakara Kedlaya, MBBS; Chief Editor: Ryan O Stephenson, DO  more...
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Answer

Answer

Speech therapists can teach patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) with bulbar involvement to slow their speech and exaggerate articulation to improve comprehension for caregivers. For patients with respiratory insufficiency, the therapist can teach phrasing to promote energy conservation. Submaximal tongue strengthening exercises and diaphragmatic exercises also should be taught, to help improve articulation and voice projection.

As the patient's voice becomes more strained, the caregiver can be fitted with a hearing aid to promote communication with the patient. This also provides the patient with an "interpreter" who can assist in communicating with others. If the patient and caregiver already have their own form of communication (ie, gestures) that works well for them, encourage them to continue using their existing system as long as it is effective.


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