Dysarthria What is Dysarthria? Among its many amazing functions, the brain controls several different mechanisms that are used to produce speech. When damage occurs in a certain region of the brain, it can have wide-ranging effects on your ability to form and say words that can be understood by others. Dysarthria occurs when the part of the brain that controls speech production is damaged. When this happens, the muscles needed to make certain sounds may become weak or paralyzed. Someone with dysarthria may have trouble coordinating the lips, tongue, palate, jaw, and vocal chords. This can cause speech to be slurred, breathy, jerky, strained, and hard to understand. Dysarthria is sometimes confused with apraxia of speech. Unlike apraxia, however, the speech errors that occur with dysarthria are highly consistent from one time to the next.