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15-08-2011 | Article

Neurogenic stuttering may not be as rare as previously reported


Free abstract

MedWire News: Approximately 5% of individuals who have a stroke develop neurogenic stuttering, new research shows.

Six months following their stroke, approximately 2.5% of these patients are still stuttering, say the researchers.

"Our data do not confirm the commonly held view that neurogenic stuttering is a 'rare' speech disorder, at least among stroke patients," conclude Catherine Theys (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium) and colleagues in the Journal of Communication Disorders.

Neurogenic stuttering is an acquired speech disorder that occurs after a neurological disease or insult. It frequently occurs in adulthood and differs from developmental stuttering which begins in childhood.

Neurogenic stuttering is typically characterized by involuntary repetitions or prolongations that are not the result of language formation or psychiatric disorders.

Strokes often result in speech-language problems, with aphasia occurring in approximately 17% to 38% of patients following stroke. In addition, dysarthria is present in 8% to 30% of stroke patients.

To date, however, there are limited data available highlighting the incidence of neurogenic stuttering following stroke.

In the present study, Theys and colleagues assessed the incidence of the speech disorder in a large cohort of 319 patients who had recently had a stroke. The majority had an ischemic stroke.

In all, 149 patients were female and the mean age of all participants was 71 years old. A total of 17 patients met the clinical criteria for the presence of neurogenic stuttering (5.3%) during the year-long study.

Eight patients developed neurogenic stuttering that persisted for more than six months following the initial stroke, an incidence rate of 2.5%.

The frequency of stuttering varied during conversations, ranging from less than 1%, to nearly 20%, of syllables, according to the researchers.

All patients who developed the speech disorder had been diagnosed with an ischemic stroke. Based on magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography imaging, 15 of the patients had cerebral lesions and two presented with a lesion in the cerebellum.

In an assessment of co-occurring speech, language, and cognitive disorders, the researchers report that nine of the 17 neurogenic stuttering patients were also diagnosed with dysarthria, five were diagnosed with cognitive problems, and two had apraxia of speech.

"Neurogenic stuttering following stroke is often reported to co-occur with disorders such as aphasia, apraxia of speech, and dysarthria," according to Theys and colleagues.

"This co-occurrence might hamper the diagnosis of neurogenic stuttering as the dysfluencies can be attributed to the presence of these other disorders," they add.

In the present study, there was a positive relationship between the number of co-occurring disorders and stuttering frequency, concludes the team.

By MedWire Reporters