Speech metrics, general disability, brain imaging and quality of life in multiple sclerosis Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:Objective measurement of speech has shown promising results to monitor disease state in multiple sclerosis. In this study, we characterize the relationship between disease severity and speech metrics through perceptual (listener based) and objective acoustic analysis. We further look at deviations of acoustic metrics in people with no perceivable dysarthria. METHODS:Correlations and regression were calculated between speech measurements and disability scores, brain volume, lesion load and quality of life. Speech measurements were further compared between three subgroups of increasing overall neurological disability: mild (as rated by the Expanded Disability Status Scale ≤2.5), moderate (≥3 and ≤5.5) and severe (≥6). RESULTS:Clinical speech impairment occurred majorly in people with severe disability. An experimental acoustic composite score differentiated mild from moderate (P < 0.001) and moderate from severe subgroups (P = 0.003), and correlated with overall neurological disability (r = 0.6, P < 0.001), quality of life (r = 0.5, P < 0.001), white matter volume (r = 0.3, P = 0.007) and lesion load (r = 0.3, P = 0.008). Acoustic metrics also correlated with disability scores in people with no perceivable dysarthria. CONCLUSIONS:Acoustic analysis offers a valuable insight into the development of speech impairment in multiple sclerosis. These results highlight the potential of automated analysis of speech to assist in monitoring disease progression and treatment response.


  • Noffs, G
  • Boonstra, FMC
  • Perera, T
  • Butzkueven, H
  • Kolbe, SC
  • Maldonado, F
  • Cofre Lizama, L Eduardo
  • Galea, MP
  • Stankovich, J
  • Evans, A
  • van der Walt, A
  • Vogel, AP

publication date

  • 2020