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FAQ47: Can patients with Amotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) by helped by electrolarynx devices?

Question: I just had a call from a man whose father is in a home and has ALS. He has heard that some ALS sufferers may in some cases be able to communicate with an AL. Does anyone have any information on this? Thanks!

Answer: Usually, the speech problems of ALS patients are related more to an impairment of tongue motion, causing problems with pronunciation, rather than to impairments of the larynx and voice (weak, low volume). If you try to use an artificial larynx in this situation, it may only be more difficult to understand the patient's speech, since precise articulation is one of the requirements for intelligible speech with an AL. An amplifier may or may not help, again, depending on the degree of impairment of articulation. The patient should be evaluated by a speech pathologist who has expertise in working with dysarthria (neurologically-based speech disorders), and can make appropriate recommendations about any equipment needs. This will save the patient and family from wasting their money on useless purchases and additional frustration.
- Carla Gress, ScD

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