Wallenberg syndrome is a “rare disease” just because it is not commonly reported. Nevertheless, the disease is real and requires attention like any other more common disease. This syndrome affects the posterior inferior cerebellar artery and/or vertebral artery (Kimura & Lyon, 1972). Once these parts of the brain are affected, a patient may have difficulties in swallowing anything and may also tamper with their voice and therefore have problems with their speech. The present paper will scrutinize the effects of Wallenberg syndrome upon speech of a patient.
To start with, it is vital to look on how the body functions because of the syndrome. Basically, the human body involves sensory communication for passing instructions to various body parts. Some of these instructions are responsible for speech and language control and will therefore manage the language and speech of an individual.
As seen above, the Wallenberg Syndrome affects the posterior cerebellar artery and vertebral artery which are connected to the spinal cord (SCHWARZ, GEIGER, & SPANO, 1956). The spinal cord requires messages from the brain to perform the motor and sensory functions to be able to send a message to the vocal band which is responsible for voice, speech and language. Therefore, for proper functioning of the sensory and motor neurons this message has to be successfully delivered to the spinal cord from the brain.
The disease in question affects the communication channel between the spinal cord and the brain. Therefore, the proper message which is responsible for controlling the voice and language of an individual will not be delivered to the spinal cord to facilitate the functioning of the motor neurons. The motor neuron is responsible for muscle control and even a slight interference with it means that the muscles and all activities controlled by the muscles malfunction.
According to Kimura and Lyon (1972), what happens is that the message from the nerve cells in the brain needs to be transmitted to the spinal cord, and then from the spinal cord to various muscles through the motor neurons, and some of these muscles are the ones responsible for language coordination. As seen in the discussion, the Wallenberg Syndrome affects the pathway between the brain and the spinal cord, therefore bearing the message from the brain to the spinal cord or altering it. This will therefore result to the neurons not delivering the correct message to the muscles which deal with speech and language. Once this happens, muscular activities are affected.
In a more specific way, we have the upper motor neurons and lower motor neurons and both control various muscles. The vocal muscles (responsible for language and speech) and mouth muscles are controlled by the upper motor neurons. Therefore, if the message altered from the beginning is the one that is connected to the upper motor neurons, an individual will have difficulties in chewing and speaking since the muscles responsible for these activities are the ones affected (Dhamoon et al., 1984). Therefore, the speech of an individual is affected with the same degree as the upper motor neurons are.
In summary, Wallenberg is not a common syndrome, but it is real. This syndrome affects the posterior inferior cerebellar artery and/or vertebral artery which are the communication pathways between the brain and the spinal cord. Therefore, the message communicated by the nerve cells of the brain fails to reach the spinal cord. The spinal cord receives the message from the brain and communicates accordingly to the various parts of the body using the motor neurons. Since the message is barred, the communication to the upper motor neuron which is responsible for speech and mouth muscular control is affected. Therefore, the patient’s speech is affected to the same degree as the communication between the brain nerve cells and the spinal cord is.
Dhamoon, S. K., Iqbal, J., ; Collins, G. H. (1984). Ipsilateral hemiplegia and the Wallenberg syndrome. Archives of neurology, 41(2), 179-180.
Hinse, P., Thie, A., ; Lachenmayer, L. (1991). Dissection of the extracranial vertebral artery: report of four cases and review of the literature. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery ; Psychiatry, 54(10), 863-869.
Kimura, J., ; Lyon, L. W. (1972). Orbicularis oculi reflex in the Wallenberg syndrome: alteration of the late reflex by lesions of the spinal tract and nucleus of the trigeminal nerve. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery ; Psychiatry, 35(2), 228-233.
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