Speech and oral motor profile after childhood hemispherectomy

Brain Lang. 2010 Aug;114(2):126-34. doi: 10.1016/j.bandl.2009.12.004. Epub 2010 Jan 21.


Hemispherectomy (disconnection or removal of an entire cerebral hemisphere) is a rare surgical procedure used for the relief of drug-resistant epilepsy in children. After hemispherectomy, contralateral hemiplegia persists whereas gross expressive and receptive language functions can be remarkably spared. Motor speech deficits have rarely been examined systematically, thus limiting the accuracy of postoperative prognosis. We describe the speech profiles of hemispherectomized participants characterizing their intelligibility, articulation, phonological speech errors, dysarthric features, and execution and sequencing of orofacial speech and non-speech movements. Thirteen participants who had undergone hemispherectomy (six left, seven right; nine with congenital, four with acquired hemiplegia; operated between four months and 13 years) were investigated. Results showed that all participants were intelligible but showed a mild dysarthric profile characterized by neuromuscular asymmetry and reduced quality and coordination of movements, features that are characteristic of adult-onset unilateral upper motor neuron dysarthria, flaccid-ataxic variant. In addition, one left and four right hemispherectomy cases presented with impaired production of speech and non-speech sequences. No participant showed evidence of verbal or oral dyspraxia. It is concluded that mild dysarthria is persistent after left or right hemispherectomy, irrespective of age at onset of hemiplegia. These results indicate incomplete functional re-organization for the control of fine speech motor movements throughout childhood, and provide no evidence of hemispheric differences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dysarthria / etiology
  • Dysarthria / physiopathology*
  • Epilepsy / surgery*
  • Female
  • Hemiplegia / etiology
  • Hemiplegia / physiopathology
  • Hemispherectomy*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Language Development
  • Male
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Postoperative Complications / physiopathology*
  • Recovery of Function / physiology
  • Speech / physiology*
  • Speech Articulation Tests
  • Speech Intelligibility / physiology
  • Speech Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult