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Pharmacological Approaches to Stuttering. Stepheni Balcsik Veronica Janke Maggie Kreitzman. Approach Classification. Pharmacological Approach Use of medication to reduce primary and secondary behaviors of stuttering. Theoretical Rationale. Dopamine Hypothesis

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pharmacological approaches to stuttering

Pharmacological Approaches to Stuttering

Stepheni Balcsik

Veronica Janke

Maggie Kreitzman

approach classification
Approach Classification
  • Pharmacological Approach
    • Use of medication to reduce primary and secondary behaviors of stuttering
theoretical rationale
Theoretical Rationale
  • Dopamine Hypothesis
    • Increased levels of dopamine in the striatum contribute to an abnormal number of disfluencies.
  • Symptom Control
    • Medications used because the drugs’ actions were thought to control the underlying factors contributing to stuttering.
  • Correlation between Tourette’s Syndrome and Stuttering
    • Secondary characteristics of stuttering are similar to twitches and tics found in Tourette’s Syndrome. Both have high levels of dopamine present in the subcortical regions of the brain (basal ganglia).
style of therapy
Style of Therapy
  • Depends on:
    • The drug
    • The person’s age, weight, and gender
    • The person’s severity of stuttering
    • Other medications taken
  • Pharmacological approach should coincide with speech therapy
measurement of success
Measurement of Success
  • Success is defined as:
    • Reduction of syllables stuttered
    • Reduction of secondary characteristics
    • Improvement of social-emotional ratings on quality of life measurements
  • Success is measured with:
    • Comparison of pre- and post- language samples
    • Comparison of quality of life measurements
    • Interviews with the person who stutters and their family
generalization and maintenance
Generalization and Maintenance
  • Maintenance is addressed by consistently taking the prescribed medication
  • Generalization was not addressed with this approach.
program s success rate
Program’s Success Rate
  • Stager et al.’s (1995) study reported increased fluency during public speaking
    • 48% in baseline to 56% after provided with clomipramine (anti-depressant)
  • Macguire et al.’s (2000) study demonstrated a reduction in stuttering frequency
    • 9.6% syllables stuttered to 4.7% syllables stuttered in conjunction with risperidone (dopamine antagonist/antipsychotic)

Helps reduce secondary characteristics of stuttering

This approach requires less effort

Positive effects of the medication extend to natural speaking situations


Side effects of the drugs

Combinations of medications can be fatal

None of these drugs were designed for stuttering or were approved by the FDA to treat stuttering

Faulty theoretical justifications

Poor empirical support

Weak research designs provide weak positive results

  • NO!
    • Longevity of side effects is unknown
    • Limited research to support the drugs’ effectiveness compared to the placebo effect
    • Drug therapy is expensive and outcome is variable
    • Does not address generalization
  • Bothe, A.K., Davidow, J.H., Brameltt, R. E., Franic, D.M., & Ingham, R.P. (2006). Stuttering treatment research 1970 – 2005: II. Systematic Review Incorporating Trial Quality Assessment of Pharmacological Approaches. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 15, 342-352.
  • Costa, D., & Kroll, R. (2000). Stuttering: An update for physicians. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 162(13), 1849-1855.
  • Macguire, G.A., Yu, B.P., Franklin, D.L., & Riley, G. (2004). Alleviating stuttering with pharmacological interventions. Expert Opinion Pharmacotherapy, 5(7), 1565-1571.