As a disorder of the nervous system, apraxia requires a comprehensive doctor’s evaluation before a treatment plan is developed. The different forms of apraxia can affect facial muscles, speech, motor movement and the way a patient carries out previously learned tasks. Choosing the best apraxia treatment depends on how the patient is affected and which therapies and drugs are available for that type of apraxia.
Buccofacial apraxia, which is sometimes called orofacial apraxia, affects a patient’s ability to make specific facial movements. When asked to whistle or wink, a patient with buccofacial apraxia will be unable to make his or her muscles perform the task. Physical therapy may be the best buccofacial apraxia treatment.
When apraxia affects speech, the patient’s ability to forms words is impaired. Speech apraxia can affect both children and adults. For children who cannot form words properly or who babble even though they know the proper words to use, the best apraxia treatment involves intensive weekly meetings with a speech pathologist and ongoing speaking practice at home. Initially, children who have speech apraxia do better when instructed alone, but as they progress, their treatment plan can move them into group therapy. The key to maximizing this type of treatment is strong support from the therapist and all family members.
Another type of apraxia related to speaking, called acquired apraxia, typically develops in adults. It leads them to lose the ability to speak as they previously did. Although acquired speech apraxia sometimes remits spontaneously, speech therapy is the best acquired apraxia treatment.
For patients who have motor apraxia, which affects the ability to move one's hands, limbs or entire body, the best treatment is occupational or physical therapy designed to help work around motor deficits. This form of apraxia can affect both adults and children and might be called by other names, including limb apraxia, global dyspraxia and clumsy child syndrome. In addition to therapy, antispasticity medications sometimes used for multiple sclerosis are available when apraxia symptoms include clenched hands and nonfunctioning limbs.
Two other types of apraxia pose greater treatment challenges. Ideomotor apraxia affects a patient’s ability to carry out a task properly when handed a tool. A patient might try to write with a screwdriver, for example, or might not know what a toothbrush is used for. There are no known medications for ideomotor apraxia.
Ideational apraxia prevents a patient from carrying out tasks in proper order, such as putting socks on before shoes. This type is associated with dementia. Drugs known as cholinesterase inhibitors often are used in these cases.