Resolution of stuttering during ketamine treatment: a case report.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

J Med Case Rep


washington; lacey; Female; Humans; Middle Aged; Ketamine; Quality of Life; Speech; Stuttering; Treatment Outcome


BACKGROUND: Stuttering may include repetition of words in whole or part, difficulty saying words, and elongated pauses in speech. Approximately 5% of children stutter for a period lasting 6 months or more. Most of those children stop stuttering as they approach adulthood, but the condition persists in approximately 1% of adults. The cause of stuttering is unknown. Adults who stutter face substantial burdens in many aspects of their lives. Stutterers may choose not to pursue meaningful employment opportunities, may not be hired for positions they seek, or may be denied promotions or positive performance evaluations. Stuttering can cause physical tension from fear of speaking. Social challenges arise when a person who stutters is seen as less capable or of lower intelligence than fluent speakers. Stuttering causes emotional difficulties through the frustration and embarrassment that disfluent speakers feel. Stutterers may experience a general loss of self-esteem and personal satisfaction in life. Speech therapy is the primary intervention for stuttering. Medications have been investigated as treatments for stuttering, but no medication has been identified that has widespread effectiveness.

CASE PRESENTATION: A 60-year-old white non-Hispanic woman who had been a near lifelong stutterer was prescribed ketamine for an unrelated condition and experienced an almost immediate resolution of her stuttering.

CONCLUSIONS: Many possible pharmacological treatments for stuttering have been studied. Some medications appear to be effective in some patients; some appear to be more generally effective but have negative side effects. No reporting in relevant literature has addressed a possible role for ketamine in stuttering treatment. On the basis of this case report, research on the effect of ketamine on stuttering would be useful. Any effective treatment for stuttering would have a significant positive effect on quality of life for persons who stutter.

Clinical Institute

Mental Health

Clinical Institute

Neurosciences (Brain & Spine)


Behavioral Health




Health Care Administration