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Apraxia

Definition

Apraxia is a disorder of the brain and nervous system in which a person is unable to perform tasks or movements when asked, even though:

Alternative Names

Verbal apraxia; Dyspraxia; Speech disorder - apraxia; Childhood apraxia of speech; Apraxia of speech; Acquired apraxia

Causes

Apraxia is caused by damage to the brain. When apraxia develops in a person who was previously able to perform the tasks or abilities, it is called acquired apraxia.

The most common causes of acquired apraxia are:

Apraxia may also be seen at birth. Symptoms appear as the child grows and develops. The cause is unknown.

Apraxia of speech is often present along with another speech disorder called aphasia. Depending on the cause of apraxia, a number of other brain or nervous system problems may be present.

Symptoms

A person with apraxia is unable to put together the correct muscle movements. At times, a completely different word or action is used than the one the person intended to speak or make. The person is often aware of the mistake.

Symptoms of apraxia of speech include:

Other forms of apraxia include:

Frustration, profanity, and depression are typical responses in persons with aphasia.

Exams and Tests

The following tests may be performed if the cause of the disorder is not known:

Standardized language and intellectual tests should be done if apraxia of speech is suspected. Testing for other learning disabilities may also be needed.

Treatment

People with apraxia may benefit from treatment by a health care team. The team should also include family members.

Occupational and speech therapists may help both patients and their caregivers learn ways to deal with the apraxia. Because patients with apraxia have trouble following instructions, therapists who are experienced in treating this disorder may have better results.

Speech and language treatment may include:

Recognition and treatment of depression is important for people with severe speech and language disorders.

Other tips:

When speech apraxia is present:

Outlook (Prognosis)

Many people with apraxia are no longer able to be independent and may have trouble performing everyday tasks. Ask your health care provider which activities may or may not be safe. Avoid activities that may cause injury and take the proper safety measures.

Possible Complications


When to Contact a Medical Professional

Contact your doctor if someone has difficulty performing everyday tasks or has other symptoms of apraxia after a stroke or brain injury.

Prevention

Reducing your risk of stroke and brain injury may help prevent conditions that lead to aphasia.

References

Kirshner HS. Language and speech disorders: motor speech disorders: dysarthria and apraxia of speech. In: Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap 12B.

Kortte JH, Palmer JB. Speech and language disorders. In: Frontera, WR, Silver JK, Rizzo TD Jr, eds. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 145.


Review Date: 7/27/2014
Reviewed By: Joseph V. Campellone, MD, Department of Neurology, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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