Apraxia is a neurological condition that makes it difficult for people to perform certain actions. This usually involves common motor movements like moving facial muscles or using your hands and legs. Some people may also have difficulty in speech as they will not be able to move their tongue or mouth properly. The surprising thing about this condition is that it can even affect adults and they may lose their ability to speak properly even though they did not have any speech problems earlier in life. In other cases, this can be present from birth and children will not be able to speak properly as their mouth muscles will not move according to their wish. However, they have all the regular abilities to understand speech and even though they know how to speak and use the words, they will not be able to express them through speech due to this condition. However, with proper treatment, they will recover to a major extent in most cases.
Types of Apraxia:
– Apraxia of Speech : This condition affects the ability to speak normally as the patients will not be able to move their lips and tongue in proper sync to produce the words and phrases. In mild cases, they may be able to speak small phrases easily and struggle when it comes to long sentences. However, in extreme cases, they may not be able to speak even a few words properly and their pronunciation will be affected due to this condition. As a result of this, other people may not be able to make sense of the speech.
– Orofacial apraxia : In this condition, the facial movements get affected and they will have difficulty in moving the lips in a proper manner. However, this condition may not affect speech in some cases and they may be able to speak with slight difficulty.
– Ideomotor Apraxia : During this condition, they may not be able to get the best out of semantic memory which is needed to do actions based on a set of instructions. However, they may complete the same tasks automatically without thinking out of impulse and as an immediate response to that situation.
– Constructional Apraxia : This condition reduces the ability to draw things or construct even basic structures. It is usually seen in kids and they will have serious difficulty in drawing basic diagrams at school.
– Gait Apraxia : This can lead to serious complications as it reduces the ability of the lower limbs and makes it difficult to walk normally. In some severe cases, this can lead to permanent disability and they will have to use a wheelchair to move around places.
Other types of Apraxia may limit the ability to move particular limbs or restrict the eye movements. In some cases, the symptoms of this condition may be confused with other mental disorders and proper diagnosis is necessary to determine the condition in children.
Symptoms of Apraxia:
– People suffering from this condition will struggle a lot with regards to pronouncing the proper words and this gets worse with longer words and phrases.
– Their speech will be distorted and often repeated due to inability to move the lips and tongue in the proper manner.
– However, their writing ability may not be affected if this condition is specific to speech related apraxia. However, in other situations when the motor movements of the hands or legs are affected, they will have problems with writing and pick things with their hands. In the same manner, they will also have issues with balance as their legs will not be able to move according to their wish in most cases.
– When apraxia has affected the facial region, they will not be able to move the facial muscles in the proper manner with full control. Simple tasks like licking the lips can also become difficult and they may not be able to control the movement of their tongue due to this condition.
– Yet another form of apraxia related to learning makes it difficult for them to understand complex things and you can often notice that they will not be able to tie the shoelace in a proper manner even after repeated learning for many years.
– When the condition has affected the arms, it can make it difficult for them to put the shirt buttons or use the phone properly as they will not be able to control the movement of the hands in a voluntary manner.
Causes of Apraxia:
– The exact cause for apraxia that comes by birth is not yet known and it is assumed that complications in pregnancy or genetic factors may be the reason for this condition. However, when it comes to acquired apraxia that affects people at a later stage, the cause can be an injury to the brain region.
– In the case of acquired apraxia, the person will lose speech and other abilities that were existing previously and this can usually happen due to brain injury. When you are affected with brain stroke or another form of traumatic injury to the brain region, it can trigger this condition.
– In the same manner, brain tumours can also lead to this condition in advanced stages and this condition is not reversible at this stage. You need to be aware of the underlying condition and take proper treatment to avoid this condition in the future.
– In some cases, certain degenerative illness of the nervous system can also cause apraxia along with other brain disorders in many individuals. You can, however, prevent such conditions by treating them at the initial stages and this will avoid various complications in the long run.
– Apart from these causes, it is also noticed that people suffering from dementia can also get this condition in many cases.
Diagnosis of Apraxia:
– There is no standard method of diagnosis for this condition and doctors usually perform a series of tests based on your symptoms. Remember that the symptoms also vary from one person to another depending on many factors and it can sometimes give confusing signals about other brain disorders.
– In order to find out the exact cause of this condition, your doctor may ask you to undergo a series of imaging tests including MRI scan and CT scans. This can help them to determine any a tumour in the brain region or injury to the internal area of the brain. In this manner, treating the condition becomes easy and they will not be misled by other similar symptoms of other health conditions.
– You should also remember that certain infections of the spinal region due to inflammation can also lead to brain damage and suitable tests are done to rule out this scenario. In the same manner, conducting ECG tests will give them some idea about other health conditions in your body.
– Finally, the everyday symptoms that you face due to this condition will give complete insight into the health condition and doctors will take a final call about the treatment after getting the results from these tests.
– When it comes to diagnosing the condition in children, a speech specialist will work with them and determine the severity of the symptoms. The proper movement of the tongue and facial muscles while speaking will be examined and this can provide some insights into the condition.
– In some cases, different specialists may get involved in the diagnostic process to determine the specific symptoms of this condition in your brain. This will give them complete clarity about the condition and they can begin further treatment to reduce the symptoms.
– When it comes to preventing this condition, you need to understand that Apraxia that comes from birth cannot be prevented in any manner. However, the acquired apraxia that affects people due to any form of brain injury can be prevented by taking suitable precautions.
– You need to understand that brain stroke and other health complications related to the brain can cause this condition in many individuals. For this reason, you need to take good care of your health and ensure that your diet consists of good nutrition that provides the required boost for your brain. In the same manner, you should avoid excessive smoking and alcohol consumption as they increase the risk of brain injury in the future.
– Even trauma to the brain region can trigger this condition in many people and you need to be careful about protecting your head from such incidents. Whenever you have to work in hazardous places like factories and outdoor locations, make sure that you wear suitable headgear to protect yourself and this will prevent injuries to the brain region.
– You should also avoid stress as this can impact the overall performance of the brain and eventually lead to brain stroke when it is accompanied by other health complications of the brain. In this regard, you must take part in recreational activities once in a while to relax your brain and reduce the stress levels in a natural way.
– The unique aspect of treating this condition is that even the family members play an important role apart from the therapists and doctors. You need to understand that this treatment is an ongoing process and you need to cooperate with the patients regularly to get effective results in the long run.
– The basic treatment begins with the speech therapists working on the patients and they will teach them how to use the mouth movements to produce the required sounds. They will even use multiple sensory approaches and sometimes make the patients utter sounds sitting in front of the mirror. This can give them further insights into how the patients perceive images and they will be able to accomplish the tasks in a better manner.
– It is also required to slow down the speech as this will make it more legible for the other person and this is done by repeatedly giving instructions in a simple manner. You must also provide such instructions when you are at home and this will ensure that patients show some improvement in their speech.
– Also using short phrases while talking to them will make more sense as they will be able to absorb the complete instructions and they can also repeat the words and phrases easily without any hassles.
Complications of Apraxia:
– This condition can lead to complications in the future as the motor abilities will be reduced to a larger extent. In some cases, treatment will not provide much relief and the patients have to live with this condition forever.
– When the facial muscles are affected by this condition, it can lead to problems in speech and doing everyday activities like eating and smiling. This affects their social behaviour and they will not be able to do many tasks due to this condition.
– It can affect the job prospects by a huge margin as such people find it difficult to get jobs. They will also have problems with studies as they will not be able to complete the tasks required for professional education.
– In most cases, such people are not able to drive vehicles forever and this makes them dependent on some other people for most of their activities. It can also put them under risk of falling due to loss of balance when the condition has affected the leg region. Even when the hands are affected, they will face issues with holding everyday things in their hands and some of them cannot even hold a spoon or a pen in the hand.
You should understand that you cannot cure this condition and you need to learn how to cope with this condition so that it does not affect your everyday living. When your kids have them by birth, you will be able to handle the situation in a better way when you begin treatment at the early stages. This will ensure that children can complete basic tasks on their own without any dependency and they will also be able to cope with the situation using different therapies. On the other hand, when you are suffering from acquired apraxia, it becomes important to treat the underlying condition to get any sort of relief from the symptoms of this condition.