Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (“MS”) is a condition in which the immune system attacks and damages the nerve linings in the brain and spinal cord.

Multiple Sclerosis is a progressive disease that people will have from birth but may only show symptoms from around 20 years old. It is an auto immune disease and the exact causes are currently unknown.

  • An individual with MS may experience some or all the following:
    • Balance / Gait difficulties
    • Weakness / Fatigue
    • Speech and language problems
    • Cognitive difficulties
    • Swallowing problems
    • Numbness / Tingling, pain
    • Muscular discoordination and changes with vision
  • Communication impairments in MS may include speech, expressing language, cognitive communication or swallowing difficulties, which may be experienced during advanced stages of MS.
  • An individual’s ability to speak clearly and fluently can be caused by a variety of speech disorders for those living with MS. These include:
    • Dysarthria: A motor speech disorder that causes slurred speech due to muscle weakness. A person with Dysarthria may have slurred speech, be difficult to understand, speak slowly or too fast, vocal changes, difficulty with moving lips / tongue / jaw and with coordinating breathing / speaking.
    • Voice: A person may experience vocal changes causing the voice to sound more breathy, hoarse or weak.
  • People who have MS, may experience some degree of Aphasia, which is a language disorder that affects the ability to speak and express language. There are different types of Aphasias that can affect the ability to communicate. These may include difficulties with naming objects / pictures, producing grammatically correct sentences, repeating words / phrases or speaking in short phrases. Those living with MS, may experience word finding difficulties.
  • An individual’s ability to understand and express language can be affected due to language disorders. These include:
    • Receptive Aphasia: A language disorder that affects the ability to comprehend language. There are different types of Receptive Aphasias and the severity of the impairment depends on the depth of brain damage. However, in general, an individual whose receptive language is affected may have difficulties with understanding spoken / written language, following simple directions, identifying words / pictures, difficulties with written instructions or reading comprehension.
    • Expressive Aphasia: A language disorder that affects the ability to speak and express language. There are different types of Aphasias that can affect the ability to communicate. These may include difficulties with naming objects / pictures, producing grammatically correct sentences, repeating words / phrases or speaking in short phrases.
    • The ability to read and write can also be affected by Aphasia.
  • An individual with MS may have difficulties with eating and drinking. This is known as Dysphagia.
    • Dysphagia is often experienced during the later stages of MS. It is essential that an individual experiencing any type of swallowing difficulties, with food or liquid, consults with a Speech, Language and Swallowing Pathologist in order to avoid any medical complications such as Pneumonia, weight loss or dehydration if left untreated.
    • Dysphagia is a swallowing disorder that can be caused by MS. An individual with Dysphagia may suffer from weakness of the oral muscles (lips, tongue, jaw) and experience difficulties with chewing food and / or clearing it out of the mouth. Additionally, people may experience frequent coughing and choking while eating and drinking due to weakness of the throat muscles. This can lead to other serious medical conditions including dehydration, malnutrition and Pneumonia, if untreated.
  • An individual may experience cognitive changes unrelated to language impairments as a result of MS. The following areas of cognition may become impaired:
    • Problem Solving / Reasoning
    • Memory
    • Attention
    • Executive functioning
    • Orientation

At Q Enrichment Center, our Speech, Language and Swallowing Pathologist will conduct an extensive comprehensive assessment to determine the type of difficulty, the severity, as well as the diagnosis. A detailed report will be completed along with a treatment plan specific to each individual’s needs. Recommendations for the safest diet will be made in order to avoid any further health complications.