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Speech Rate Characteristics in Dysarthria: Comparison of Reading and Extemporaneous Tasks
K. Tjaden, T. Juma, R. Pruitt, and G. Greenman


Nishio and Niimi (2000) have suggested that measures of speech rate may be more reflective of functional change in the speech mechanism during the early stages of progressive dysarthrias than measures of intelligibility, owing to ceiling effects for intelligibility. It therefore would seem important to have a good understanding of speech rate characteristics in progressive dysarthrias. Studies to date tend to focus on sentences or reading passages. An extemporaneous speech task is arguably a more ecologically valid representation of spontaneous speech, however, and the features of dysarthria may vary with speech task. Studies reporting speech rate characteristics in dysarthria also usually investigate a single dysarthria or progressive neurological disease. It is unclear whether findings for these studies are unique to a particular neurological diagnosis/dysarthria or whether results are characteristic of dysarthria in general. The present study compared speech rate characteristics for a reading passage and an extemporaneous monologue produced by 17 individuals with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), 12 individuals with PD, and 15 healthy controls. Certain speech rate characteristics differed in read speech and the extemporaneous monologue for speakers with MS and PD, but not healthy controls. Speech rate characteristics reported in previous studies of PD also were found to extend to speakers with MS.

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