Speech Pathology for Motor Neuron Disease
Motor Neuron Disease
Motor Neuron Disease (MND) is a progressive neurological condition which affects the nerves (motor neuron) in the brain and spinal cord that tell muscles what to do, causing weakness in the muscles and eventually leads to paralysis. MND can affect how a person walks, talks, eats, drinks and breathes. Some people also experience changes to their thinking and behaviour.
Some common symptoms of MND include:
- Muscle aches, cramps, twitching.
- Clumsiness, stumbling.
- Weakness or changes in hands, arms, legs and voice.
- Slurred speech, swallowing or chewing difficulty.
- Muscle wasting, weight loss.
- Respiratory changes.
Swallowing problems (dysphagia) occur in more than 80% of people living with MND as the disease progresses. Swallowing problems put people at risk of choking, aspiration pneuomina, malnutrition and dehydration. Drooling is common in people with MND due to difficulties in managing saliva.
Speech Pathologists at iBrain specialise in providing assessment and management of dysphagia. We can help intervene early and preserve both health and quality of life. We also use a proactive approach in helping our clients to manage dysphagia, for instance using Respiratory Muscle Strength Training (RMST) Pressure Threshold Devices, such as EMST150 or the Breather. They provide opportunity to improve swallow, cough and speech function in a simple and easy way. It helps people with MND to slow the progression of cough and swallow symptoms and enhance quality of life! It is the clinically validated and has been proven effective in reducing choking and aspiration risks.
At iBrain, our Speech Pathologists support all aspects of communication and changes to communication in partnership with people living with MND. We also help people prepare for, and support the potential transition to, augmentative and alternative communication (AAC).
AAC involves a range of technologies to support or replace spoken communication, including: writing, gestures, signing, symbols and pictures, communication boards, tablets and computers. We have the expertise to provide support for people to access these systems, for instance via switches or using eye-gaze technology. We provide regular reviews of AAC as an individual’s condition progresses.
We can also contribute to supported decision-making and the determination of mental capacity. This promotes better planning and decision-making and reduces the risk of people being perceived as lacking capacity due to their communication needs not being appropriately supported.
Overall, research shows that good communication is linked to better health care for people with MND. Supporting individuals with MND to be active players in their own healthcare is aligned with principles of autonomy and person-centered care.
Message Banking and Voice Banking
We have the skills and knowledge to help people with MND explore message banking and voice banking.
Message banking is the process of recording phrases, messages and vocabulary for the purpose of incorporating the digitised recordings into an AAC system.
Voice Banking is process of recording natural voice which is then synthesised into a computerised version of the unique voice. You record your voice and then the sounds are broken down to create a synthetic version of your natural voice. After a person records their voice, it can be used on a smartphone, tablet, computer or other communication device.