SCIENCE: What speech can tell us: A systematic review of dysarthria characteristics in multiple sclerosis

IMPORTANCE:

Multiple sclerosis produces neurological impairments that are variable in duration, severity and quality. Speech is frequently impaired, resulting in decreased communication skills and quality of life. Advancements in technology now makes it possible to use quantitative acoustic assessment of speech as biomarkers of disease progression.

OBSERVATIONS:

Four domains of speech have been identified: articulation (slow articulation and imprecise consonants), voice (pitch and loudness instability), respiration (decreased phonatory time and expiratory pressure) and prosody (longer and frequent pauses, deficient loudness control). Studies also explored I) predictive models for diagnosis of MS and of ataxia using speech variables, II) the relationship of dysarthria with cognition and III) very few studies correlated neuroimaging with dysarthria. We could not identify longitudinal studies of speech or dysarthria in Multiple Sclerosis.

CONCLUSION AND RELEVANCE:

Refinement of objective measures of speech has enhanced our understanding of Multiple Sclerosis-related deficits in cross-sectional analysis while both integrative and longitudinal studies are identified as major gaps. This review highlights the potential for using quantitative acoustic assessments as clinical endpoints for diagnosing, monitoring progression and treatment in disease modifying trials.

 

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