Objective: To characterize the dysarthria in patients with multiple system atrophy (MSA).
Design: Motor speech examinations, consisting of oral motor, oral agility, and perceptual speech analysis, were performed on 46 patients with MSA.
Setting: University department of neurology referral center.
Results: All patients had dysarthria with combinations of hypokinesia, ataxia, or spasticity. Thirty-two patients had all 3 components, 13 had 2 components, and 1 had only 1 component. In most patients the hypokinetic components were the most severe. Hypokinetic components predominated in 22 patients (48%), whereas ataxic components predominated in 16 (35%), and spastic components in 5 (11%). In 1 patient (2%) the hypokinetic and spastic components were equal and greater than the ataxic components, and in 1 patient (2%) the hypokinetic and ataxic components were equal and greater than the spastic components. One patient (2%) had only ataxic dysarthria. The predominant type of dysarthria corresponded well to the subtype of MSA.
Conclusions: The finding of a mixed dysarthria with combinations of hypokinetic, ataxic, and spastic components is consistent with both the overall clinical and the neuropathologic changes in MSA. Motor speech examination can provide helpful information in evaluating patients who might have MSA.