Research being conducted at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow may lead to treatment to help children with cerebral palsy to speak more clearly. Cerebral palsy is usually caused by a birth injury to the brain, and children with the condition often have trouble controlling their movements as they grow older.
Dr. Anja Kuschmann is studying the speech patterns of children with the condition in order to better understand why they often struggle to speak clearly. Kuschmann has stated her belief that a better understanding of cerebral palsy could lead to better diagnosis and treatment.
Kuschmann said that speech problems encountered by children with cerebral palsy include difficulty with rhythm, melody and stress. Such problems are usually referred to as “prosodic difficulties,” and they can make a great difference in how intelligible a child’s speech may be to listeners.
According to Kuschmann, the prosodic development of young people with cerebral palsy is not well understood at present. Currently, she said, it is unclear whether the issues result from an inability to store prosodic information in the brain or from muscular problems that arise during speaking. The doctor’s research is intended to find the cause of these prosodic difficulties.
The research will be conducted over three years with the help of a $350,000 research fellowship. Although there is no cure for cerebral palsy today, better treatment could greatly improve quality of life for children with the condition.