Altered speech patterns in subjects with post-traumatic headache due to mild traumatic brain injury

Catherine D. Chong, Jianwei Zhang, Jing Li, Teresa Wu, Gina Dumkrieger, Simona Nikolova, Katherine Ross, Gabriela Stegmann, Julie Liss, Todd J. Schwedt, Suren Jayasuriya, Visar Berisha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background/objective: Changes in speech can be detected objectively before and during migraine attacks. The goal of this study was to interrogate whether speech changes can be detected in subjects with post-traumatic headache (PTH) attributed to mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and whether there are within-subject changes in speech during headaches compared to the headache-free state. Methods: Using a series of speech elicitation tasks uploaded via a mobile application, PTH subjects and healthy controls (HC) provided speech samples once every 3 days, over a period of 12 weeks. The following speech parameters were assessed: vowel space area, vowel articulation precision, consonant articulation precision, average pitch, pitch variance, speaking rate and pause rate. Speech samples of subjects with PTH were compared to HC. To assess speech changes associated with PTH, speech samples of subjects during headache were compared to speech samples when subjects were headache-free. All analyses were conducted using a mixed-effect model design. Results: Longitudinal speech samples were collected from nineteen subjects with PTH (mean age = 42.5, SD = 13.7) who were an average of 14 days (SD = 32.2) from their mTBI at the time of enrollment and thirty-one HC (mean age = 38.7, SD = 12.5). Regardless of headache presence or absence, PTH subjects had longer pause rates and reductions in vowel and consonant articulation precision relative to HC. On days when speech was collected during a headache, there were longer pause rates, slower sentence speaking rates and less precise consonant articulation compared to the speech production of HC. During headache, PTH subjects had slower speaking rates yet more precise vowel articulation compared to when they were headache-free. Conclusions: Compared to HC, subjects with acute PTH demonstrate altered speech as measured by objective features of speech production. For individuals with PTH, speech production may have been more effortful resulting in slower speaking rates and more precise vowel articulation during headache vs. when they were headache-free, suggesting that speech alterations were related to PTH and not solely due to the underlying mTBI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number82
JournalJournal of Headache and Pain
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Language
  • Migraine
  • Post-traumatic headache
  • Speech
  • mTBI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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