Senior lecturer explains apraxia of speech symptoms amid 'incredible' public reaction to Chris Kamara diagnosis

A senior lecturer at Leeds Beckett University has explained the symptoms of apraxia of speech - amid an 'incredible' public reaction to Chris Kamara's diagnosis.
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The Sky Sports presenter and former footballer, 64, appeared to slur his words during Soccer Saturday last weekend, prompting viewers to message him on social media.

He later posted on Twitter explaining that he had developed the speech disorder alongside an existing thyroid issue.

Speech and language therapy in practice
cc Leeds Beckett UniversitySpeech and language therapy in practice
cc Leeds Beckett University
Speech and language therapy in practice cc Leeds Beckett University
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Appearing on Good Morning Britain, the ex-sportsman hailed the response of friends and family and said he was receiving treatment from a speech therapist in a bid to resolve the issue.

Describing the response to his post as “incredible”, he added: “Today is a good day so today I think I am fine. I don’t know how I sound but it seems as if I am okay.”

Kamara said some people had questioned whether he was drunk following his on-screen appearance last weekend.

He added: “When I put out the message after Soccer Saturday I never in a million years expected that response. But everyone has been so brilliant. So kind.

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“People have got in touch who I haven’t spoke to for 30, 40 years, to wish me well. So can I thank everybody for that.”

Now, a senior lecturer at Leeds Beckett University has written a blog for the public to better understand the symptoms of the condition.

Dr Cecilia Devers is a senior lecturer at Leeds School Of Social Sciences.

After Chris Kamara opened up about his diagnosis of Apraxia of Speech, Dr Devers explained what the condition is, and some of the symptoms those with AoS experience in a new blog.

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AoS is chronic neurological disorder characterised by impaired, or difficulty with planning, speech movements, Dr Devers said.

"There is no negative impact or involvement of things like intelligence, sensory processing or other functions the brain carries out", she added.

"AoS has also been historically known under different names such as: speech apraxia, verbal dyspraxia, articulatory dyspraxia, etc.

"It can result from a number of different things, such as a head injury or stroke, or some other condition where the brain’s healthy tissue has been injured.

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Dr Devers said there were "numerous sounds that need to be connected in order to form words and sentences, so the mouth must be able to coordinate those movements with efficient precision in order to be understood by the listener".

She added: "In AoS, the motor cortex has experienced some kind of injury, resulting in its efficiency and effectiveness to plan and coordinate those movements.

"There is a natural knock-on effect which further results in a difficulty producing the intended speech message – this is why we refer to this condition as a speech motor disorder.

"People with AoS can present with a number of symptoms, such as (but not limited to): slow rate of speaking, prolonged sounds, distorted articulation of consonants and vowels, difficulty with initiating speech, and difficulty with producing speech that might be long or what we refer to as complex.

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"Because the impairment resides solely in the planning and coordination, it can be overloaded easily and result in a breakdown of communication. AoS is seen across the entire lifespan, from childhood to the elderly.

"The best ways to support people with AoS is to allow them time to speak as initiating speech is difficult, ask for clarification if the listener has not understood and to be aware of that the individual has this condition as that will help the speaker and listener to repair communication breakdowns."

Kamara previously underwent a brain scan to check if he was developing dementia after suffering from what he described as “brain fog”.

He worried the illness might be related to heading the ball during his sporting career.

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However, his symptoms were instead explained by an underactive thyroid, for which he now receives treatment.

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