Neurogenic stuttering is a fluency speech disorder that impairs the sufferer’s ability to speak in a smooth, well-structured fashion. Also known as acquired stuttering, neurogenic stuttering shares several classic symptoms with other fluency disorders. However, it differs significantly in its causes and, to a lesser extent, its treatments.
Neurogenic Stuttering: What Causes It and What Makes It Different
Unlike other stuttering types, there’s little mystery regarding the causes of neurogenic stuttering. As its name indicates, the affliction is directly attributable to injuries or diseases of the brain and spinal cord. These pre-cursors include head or spinal trauma, strokes, meningitis, and multiple sclerosis.
The symptoms of neurogenic stuttering are similar to those of other fluency disorders with a couple of noteworthy exceptions. These exceptions and the specific, clinical nature of its causes require a different approach to the management and treatment of neurogenic stuttering.
Definition and causes of neurogenic stuttering
Neurogenic stuttering is defined as a speech disorder where a person is unable to produce normal, coherent speech due to damage or disease of the cortex, cerebellar, subcortex, or neural pathway regions.
The most commonly encountered causes of neural origin stuttering are:
- Ischemic events
- Spinal cord or head trauma
- Tumors and cysts
- Degenerative diseases including multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s Disease
- Other diseases including AIDS, Guillain-Barré Syndrome, and meningitis
- Negative reactions to medication
Symptoms of neurogenic stuttering
As we’ve mentioned earlier, there is an area of overlap between the symptoms of neurogenic and other stuttering disorders. However, there are several symptoms that are reliable indicators of the condition. These include:
- Excessive levels of forward-flow revisions and interjections
- Cessation of speech mid-word without completing the word
- Intrusive or unnecessary sounds during speech
- Extraneous lip, tongue, or jaw movements
Sufferers of neurogenic stuttering also tend to show no awareness or concern about the symptom’s effect on their speech. In addition, they will also often exhibit physical tension during speech interruptions while avoiding eye contact.
Type Specific Treatments for Neurogenic Stuttering
Treatments of neurogenic stuttering differ from those of mainstream speech disorders in that they are typically two-pronged approaches. In other words, the stuttering symptoms receive treatment in tandem with the underlying neurological cause. The stuttering component’s treatment will typically include the following measures.
Slowing speech rates
This involves encouraging the patient to say fewer words on each breath and increasing the duration of individual sounds and words.
Breathing and phrase onset control
The patient learns to concentrate on starting phrases with a relaxed posture and focus on breathing control
Speech pattern adjustment
Speech pattern disruptions in neurogenic stutterers tend to be identifiable and predictable. Adjusting instinctive speech patterns in conjunction with problematic term replacement is an effective treatment regimen for neurogenic fluency disorders.
Knowledge is power — suggested reference material
Lee G Lovett has written an insightful and informative book based on his personal experience and the input of a large group of fellow stutterers. Look up “Stuttering & Anxiety Self-Cures” for valuable information on managing all stuttering types.
Understanding and Treating Neurogenic Stuttering: The Summary
Neurogenic stuttering is a problematic speech disorder to deal with, as it involves both the original condition and the symptomatic speech disorder. So, the symptoms of these fluency afflictions cannot be treated alone and must be approached as part of a holistic solution. Consequently, recovery from the original condition will dictate progress in addressing the speech disorder.
That said, recovery from neurological afflictions can be slow, so patience will be an essential component in treating the stuttering symptoms. As always, people with speech disorders need all the support, encouragement, and empathy they can get. We, as family members, friends, or caregivers, carry an undeniable burden of responsibility to give them that and then some.
If you suffer from a fluency disorder or know someone who does and would like to share insights with us, please use the comments section below.