Speech Intelligibility and Marital Communication in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Joubert, K
Bornman, J
Alant, E
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Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a rapidly progressive neuromuscular disease, has a devastating impact not only on individuals diagnosed with ALS but also their spouses. Speech intelligibility, often compromised as a result of dysarthria, affects the couple’s ability to maintain effective, intimate communication. The purpose of this exploratory study was to determine the association between the deteriorating speech of persons with ALS (PALS) and couples’ perceptions of marital communication. There were two participant groups: (a) persons with ALS (PALS) and (b) their spouses. Data were collected over a 12-month period through the administration of objective and subjective measures. A review of the findings suggested a positive relation between declining speech intelligibility and a couple’s perception of marital communication. A holistic approach to communication intervention should be adopted for PALS, as communication as a means of facilitating and maintaining intimacy in the marital relationship is particularly pertinent to this population.
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, marital communication, augmentative and alternative communication, speech intelligibility