Neurogenic Stuttering: Causes & Characteristics

Instructor: Adrianne Baron

Adrianne has taught high school and college biology and has a master's degree in cancer biology.

What is neurogenic stuttering? We will take a look at the various possible causes of this disorder and the characteristics commonly displayed in a person with neurogenic stuttering.

Neurogenic Stuttering

You have just started a new class at school and have numerous different classmates. You notice that one person, Cindy, seems to never talk in class. In the hall between periods, you approach her with the hopes of getting to know more about her and maybe make a new friend. You notice that Cindy is having difficulty speaking to you.

She lets you know that she has neurogenic stuttering, a disorder that causes a person to have problems producing normal, fluid speech. As you part ways, you still don't know what caused this disorder or even fully understand it really. You do more research after class.

Causes

In the beginning of your research you keep seeing information about developmental stuttering, which is stuttering that occurs as a child is learning to talk. There are even other kinds of stuttering, but we'll leave those for other lessons. Finally, you find what you are looking for. You learn that neurogenic stuttering occurs as a result of damage or injury to the brain and/or spinal cord. The damage or injury can be due to another disease process or some other event that happens to the body.

Perhaps Cindy had a cerebrovascular accident at some point, commonly called a stroke. This is when there is a loss of oxygenated blood flowing to the brain that results in brain tissue death. It could even have been a sort of mini-stroke, called transient ischemic attack, which is a brief loss of oxygenated blood supply to the brain that can cause brain tissue damage.

You learn that diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's are possible causes. Alzheimer's seems unlikely, as that does not usually develop until after 65 and Cindy looks like she's in her 30s.

It could also be as a result of a brain tumor or brain cancer. The next day, you decide to ask Cindy more questions. You discover that no one in her family has cancer and she does not seem to show any symptoms indicative of brain tumors or cancer.

Cindy is able to eliminate head trauma as the cause because she has never been in a car accident or had anything happen to her that could cause head trauma. If she were to experience a head trauma when she was too young to remember, such as when she was a baby, then the stuttering would probably have started before it did in her early twenties.

The last cause you read about is that neurogenic stuttering can happen as the result of taking some medications that are used to control asthma and depression. You have no clue if she is on any of these medications. You also are not sure because you learn that medications can also cause pharmacologic stuttering just like they can cause neurogenic stuttering.

Cindy realizes by your questions and facial expressions that you are trying to determine her cause. She solves the mystery for you. Her neurogenic stuttering was caused by a mild stroke she had a couple of years ago.

Characteristics

The most obvious characteristic of Cindy's neurogenic stuttering is when she gets stuck trying to get a word out. Cindy repeats the same sound or syllable multiple times while trying to pronounce words.

Cindy also suffers the symptoms of frustration, depression, anxiety, and becoming withdrawn. She has been experiencing all of these as of late due to the stuttering getting worse.

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