What is apraxia – Ninja Warrior Chris Kamara’s health condition causing slurred speech

Football pundit Chris Kamara suffered from slurred speech on Soccer Saturday last weekend.

Ex-midfielder Chris – aka ‘Kammy’ – worried fans during his TV appearance, and took to Twitter to explain what was wrong.

The Ninja Warrior presenter, 64, wrote: “Just wanted to let a few of you know who tweeted me today that I am ok ish.

“Alongside my thyroid problem I have developed apraxia of speech and have been working to get my speech back to normal.

“Some days it can be a little slow and some days it’s normal. Hopefully I can beat this!”

Chris revealed last year that he’d been diagnosed with an underactive thyroid, which causes tiredness and weight gain, depression and sensitivity to cold.

Here, we explain what we know about his speech condition.

Apraxia of speech

Apraxia is a motor speech disorder that makes it hard to speak.

It’s a bit like dyslexia – difficulty learning to read or interpret words, letters and symbols.

But apraxia means saying the right sounds and words is very challenging.

Signs

You might not be able to move your lips or tongue the right way to say sounds, as the messages aren’t getting through due to brain damage.

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You may say ‘chicken’ instead of ‘kitchen’ or even say made up words, even though you know they’re wrong. Sometimes you might not be able to speak at all.

Other symptoms include slow speech and trouble imitating or saying sounds on your own.

Causes

According to the Speech and Language Therapy Department of the NHS, it’s thought to be caused by a problem in the brain area responsible for planning muscle movement and patterns.

Any type of brain damage can cause apraxia, including stroke, traumatic brain injury, dementia, brain tumours and brain diseases that get worse over time.

Treatment

Thankfully, there is a way to improve your symptoms.

Speech-language therapists can work with you to help better the way you say sounds and put sounds into words.

Treatment focuses on getting your muscles to move in the correct way. Sometimes your muscles need re-teaching in order to make the right sounds again.

Slowing down your speech or talking to a steady beat can help you say sounds you struggle with.

If symptoms are severe and you struggle to speak at all, there are other solutions to help you communicate.

These include simple hand gestures, writing, pointing to letters or pictures, or using a computer as a voice device.

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