Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) is often, but not always, a precursor to dementia and involves changes in memory, decision making, judgement, or visual perception which is noticeable but does not interfere with the individual’s ability to function independently. For example, someone with MCI may forget appointments made, medication, or recent conversations that they previously had no difficulty recalling.
Dementia is a neurological condition which usually is accompanied by another condition, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Symptoms include memory loss that disrupts daily life, difficulty planning or solving problems, trouble completing familiar tasks at home, work, or leisure, confusion with time or place, social withdrawal, changes in mood and personality, and loss of independence with daily tasks.
Dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, can result from neurological or structural damage to the muscles involved in chewing and swallowing. Additionally, it can occur from weakness, poor coordination, and decrease range of motion of the muscles involved in swallowing. Swallowing is a complex process which can go wrong in many different ways. The most dangerous is aspiration. Aspiration occurs when liquid or food goes below the vocal folds and into the lungs and can result in aspiration pneumonia.
Apraxia of speech is fairly common after strokes and other types of brain trauma. It is a condition in which the messages from your brain that control your muscles can’t get through consistently. The result is difficulty in getting your lips and tongue to make the sounds you want them to. You might have sound errors, or not be able to speak at all.
Ever had that feeling where a word is on the tip of your tongue but you just can’t…quite…get it? It’s frustrating, right? This is one of the major characteristics of aphasia. Aphasia is a loss of the ability to speak, understand the speech of others, or both. It’s caused by strokes, brain injuries, brain tumors, or other neurological trauma.
Aphasia can look very different in different people. Some just get that “tip of my tongue” feeling for the occasional word, while others can’t communicate at all. Some people can talk up a storm, but none of it makes any sense because they can’t process what they’re saying or understand other people. Aphasia can also be receptive where the individual does not understand what others are saying.
Dysarthria is a lack of precision or clarity of speech, often following a stroke, traumatic brain injury, brain tumor, or progressive illness, such as Parkinson’s disease or Multiple Sclerorsis. Any kind of damage to the brain can result in dysarthria. People with dysarthric speech often have slurred speech or sound as though they are mumbling. They may also have difficulty speaking too quickly or too softly.
Voice disorders, also known as dysphonia, involve abnormal changes in vocal quality, pitch, loudness, and resonance. Signs and symptoms can include: vocal quality that sounds rough, strained, breathy, or strangled; pitch that is too high, low or has multiple breaks; resonance that sounds hypernasal or hyponasal; complete loss of voice, weak, raspy, shrill, shaky, or gurgly vocal quality; increased effort, pain, or frequent coughing when speaking.