Chris Kamara says ‘my voice was my life’ – apraxia of speech

Chris Kamara on his apraxia diagnosis and how it affects him

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Live on air, Chris Kamara – known as Kammy – spoke to Dermot O’Leary and Alison Hammond about his personal experience with apraxia of speech. Featuring on ITV’s This Morning on Tuesday, December 13, Kammy said: “Today is a good day.” But, back in 2019, he felt as though something was “not quite right”, so he became “insular” and started “talking in soundbites”.

Kammy explained: “I knew if I spoke in long sentences, I couldn’t get the words out or they would come out wrong.”

Telling no one of his concerns at the time, his fear eventually led him to the doctor’s office.

“I eventually went to see my doctor in 2020,” the father-of-two shared on the daytime talk show.

Diagnosed with an underactive thyroid, he was prescribed levothyroxine, which the NHS says is taken to replace the missing thyroid hormone, thyroxine.

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“It could be the thyroid that brought on the neurological apraxia of speech, but we don’t know,” admitted Kammy.

Talking about his health condition, Kammy stated: “We take for granted for when we speak; it’s natural.

“But the message from the brain to the mouth somehow gets confused, and the words come out wrong, or they come out slow, or they don’t come out at all.”

Referencing his career, Kammy added: “My voice was my life, you know, so that was hard to accept and that’s why I kept it quiet.”

The 64-year-old elaborated: “I thought, you know, there’s no way I can tell anybody, so I continued doing programmes.

“Then all of a sudden people are Tweeting me or asking my friends, ‘Is he OK. Is something wrong with him? Is he drunk? He’s slurring his words; he sounds slow’.

“Then eventually, my good mate here [he points towards Ben Shephard) got me to spill the beans on Good Morning Britain.”

In order to raise awareness about apraxia of speech, which also affects his muscles and balance, Kammy is featuring in a new documentary.

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“I don’t want to be the victim,” said Kammy. “My biggest thing is… five percent of all children are impacted by speech and language problems.

“And they are let down by the system; they get barely any help.”

As for Kammy, he wears an ankle tag that “produces micro currents that hopefully go to [his] brain and spark it into action”.

Apraxia of speech

Acquired speech dyspraxia is caused by damage to the brain, the NHS points out, which may result from:

  • A stroke
  • A head injury
  • A tumour
  • Or another illness affecting the brain.

Speech and language therapy is often helpful for people who have acquired apraxia of speech.

“Therapy is tailored to the individual and is designed to treat other speech or language problems that may occur together with apraxia,” the NHS adds.

Kammy shared with his fans: “Can I thank everybody out there for the best wishes they sent me.”

The documentary Lost For Words is premiering on Wednesday, December 14 at 9pm on ITV.

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