The Mayo classification of dysarthria:  Past, present & future

By F. Boutsen, J.R. Duffy, R.D. Kent, and B.E. Murdoch


The system for classifying the dysarthrias that was developed by Darley, Aronson, and Brown has been a widely used clinical and research paradigm for more than 30 years.  As with any paradigm, the expectation would be that its use over time would strengthen it, modify it, or eventually lead to its rejection and replacement with an alternative paradigm. This presentation will review the research underpinnings of the classification and its strengths if adopted as designed but also possible limitations. They include the need for elaborating perceptual dimensions used to describe and classify dysarthria and narrow the gap between these descriptions and concepts now used in movement science/movement disorders and in models of spoken language production. In addition, it remains to be determined whether the classification system needs to be adapted so as accommodate childhood dysarthria and apraxia. Finally, recent findings on the nature of prosody control suggest that audio-vocal feedback, gender, age and laterality effects need to be considered when classifying motor speech disorders.