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Disabil Rehabil. 2014;36(15):1285-9. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2013.845255. Epub 2013 Oct 23.

Dysarthria and dysphagia are highly prevalent among various types of neuromuscular diseases.

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Department of Rehabilitation, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen Centre of Evidence-Based Practice , Nijmegen , The Netherlands .



Patients with a neuromuscular disease (NMD) can present with dysarthria and/or dysphagia. Literature regarding prevalence rates of dysarthria and dysphagia is scarce. The purpose of this study was to determine prevalence rates, severity and co-presence of dysarthria and dysphagia in adult patients with NMD.


Two groups of adult patients with NMD were included: 102 consecutive outpatients (the "unselected cohort") and 118 consecutive patients who were referred for multidisciplinary assessment (the "selected cohort"). An experienced speech-language pathologist examined each patient in detail.


The pooled prevalence of dysarthria was 46% (95% CI: 36.5-55.9) and 62% (95% CI: 53.3-70.8) in the unselected and selected cohorts, respectively. The pooled prevalence of dysphagia was 36% (95% CI: 27.1-45.7) and 58% (95% CI: 49.4-67.2) in the unselected and selected cohorts, respectively. There was a modest but significant association between the presence of dysarthria and dysphagia (rs = 0.40; p < 0.01). Although the dysphagia was generally mild, dysarthria was moderate to severe in 15% of the dysarthric patients.


The prevalence rates of dysarthria and dysphagia among patients with various types of NMD are high. Physicians should therefore be aware of this prevalence and consider referring NMD patients to a speech-language pathologist. IMPLICATONS OF REHABILITATION: Both dysarthria and dysphagia are highly prevalent among patients with neuromuscular diseases; moreover, although often mild, these disorders can occur relatively early in the course of the disease. Clinicians should routinely check for signs and symptoms related to dysarthria and/or dysphagia in patients who present with a neuromuscular disease, preferably using standardised instruments.


Dysarthria; dysphagia; neuromuscular diseases

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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