Diagnosis of the speech motor planning/programming disorder, apraxia of speech (AOS), has proven challenging, largely due to its common co-occurrence with the language-based impairment of aphasia. Currently, diagnosis is based on perceptually identifying and rating the severity of several speech features. It is not known whether all, or a subset of the features, are required for a positive diagnosis. The purpose of this study was to assess predictor variables for the presence of AOS after left-hemisphere stroke, with the goal of increasing diagnostic objectivity and efficiency. This population-based case-control study involved a sample of 72 cases, using the outcome measure of expert judgment on presence of AOS and including a large number of independently collected candidate predictors representing behavioral measures of linguistic, cognitive, nonspeech oral motor, and speech motor ability. We constructed a predictive model using multiple imputation to deal with missing data; the Least Absolute Shrinkage and Selection Operator (Lasso) technique for variable selection to define the most relevant predictors, and bootstrapping to check the model stability and quantify the optimism of the developed model. Two measures were sufficient to distinguish between participants with AOS plus aphasia and those with aphasia alone, (1) a measure of speech errors with words of increasing length and (2) a measure of relative vowel duration in three-syllable words with weak-strong stress pattern (e.g., banana, potato). The model has high discriminative ability to distinguish between cases with and without AOS (c-index=0.93) and good agreement between observed and predicted probabilities (calibration slope=0.94). Some caution is warranted, given the relatively small sample specific to left-hemisphere stroke, and the limitations of imputing missing data. These two speech measures are straightforward to collect and analyse, facilitating use in research and clinical settings.
|Number of pages||11|
|Publication status||Published - 29 Jan 2016|