Speech changes after coordinative training in patients with cerebellar ataxia: a pilot study
Although rehabilitative training is a necessary adjunct in the management of gait ataxia, it remains unknown whether the possible beneficial effect of intensive coordinative training may translate to activities of daily living, which are closely connected with postural alignment. The aim of the present study was to examine the effectiveness of a 2-week intensive coordinative motor training on speech production. Speech and motor performances in a cohort of ten individuals with cerebellar degeneration were examined three times; before the introduction of training, directly and 4 weeks after the last training session. Each patient was instructed to perform a speaking task of fast syllable repetition and monologue. Objective acoustic analyses were used to investigate six key aspects of speech production disturbed in ataxic dysarthria including accuracy of consonant articulation, accuracy of vowel articulation, irregular alternating motion rates, prolonged phonemes, slow alternating motion rates and inappropriate segmentation. We found that coordinative training had a mild beneficial effect on speech in cerebellar patients. Immediately after the last training session, slight speech improvements were evident in all ten patients. Furthermore, follow-up assessment performed 4 weeks later revealed that 90 % of the patients showed better speech performance than before initiation of the therapy. The present study supports evidence that the intensive rehabilitative training may positively affect fine-motor movements such as speech in patients with cerebellar ataxia.
KeywordsSpinocerebellar ataxia Rehabilitation Physiotherapy Ataxic dysarthria Postural alignment Acoustic analysis
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