Chris Kamara has opened up about his Apraxia diagnosis and how it made people think he was drunk.
The former football player, 64, was left devastated after being diagnosed with apraxia of speech last year.
The speech condition causes a person to have trouble pronouncing words correctly and consistently, and his hard-fought battle to accept his diagnosis.
Opening up: Chris Kamara has opened up about his Apraxia diagnosis and how it made people think he was drunk
Chris appeared on This Morning on Tuesday, alongside Ben Shephard to discuss his new ITV documentary Chris Kamara: Lost For Words.
He recalled: ‘It was in 2019 but I told no one, you know when something isn’t quite right. I knew if I spoke in long sentences, I couldn’t get the words out. I thought I’m going to wake up one day and it’ll all be gone.
‘I went to see the doctor in 2020 and they did tests and it was an underactive thyroid. It cured my thyroid but the delay of not seeing the doctor sooner caused issues.
‘Then the speech issue came along which could have been the thyroid, but we don’t know.’
Awful: The former football player, 64, was left devastated after being diagnosed with apraxia of speech last year
Speaking candidly, he said: ‘We take for granted when we speak it’s natural but the messages from the brain to the mouth get confused and the words either come out slowly, wrongly or not at all.
‘My voice was my life so that was hard, that’s why I kept it quiet.
‘I continued doing programs, but people were asking if I was drunk because I slurred my words and was speaking slowly.’
Candid: Chris appeared on This Morning on Tuesday, alongside Ben Shephard to discuss his new ITV documentary Chris Kamara: Lost For Words
Ben chimed in to add: ‘It became a bigger thing, it helped initially. His kids said we just thought he was tired.
‘Eventually he got the diagnosis, and we asked if he was willing to share that on the programme. Chris doesn’t want to feel like a victim.’
Chris added: ‘Thanks to Ben my agent was approached by three or four production companies about my apraxia of speech, Ben said why not come out and talk. But I decided to raise awareness. It’s been incredible the support in the industry.’
In the documentary, he revealed his Apraxia has left him ‘weak’ and struggling to carry out simple tasks as it affects his muscles as well as speech.
Struggle: The speech condition causes a person to have trouble pronouncing words correctly and consistently, and his hard-fought battle to accept his diagnosis (pictured in 2019)
He revealed: ‘The part of my brain that’s packed in affects my muscles. I’m so weak now. Coordination is not very good. Balance is not very good.
‘Everybody talks about the speech side of it, but there’s also other factors to go with it. I can’t carry shopping.’
Once a charismatic Sky Sports News personality, Kammy now struggles to talk due to the motor speech disorder that impedes the ability to speak and has resigned from his post as a result.
The brain condition has also affected his physical abilities and sometimes his body is so weak that he struggles to carry out everyday tasks like shopping.
WHAT IS APRAXIA OF SPEECH?
Apraxia of speech is a motor speech disorder that makes it difficult to speak.
This disorder can make saying the right sounds and words very difficult and can be observed as slurring.
It is caused by damage to the parts of the brain that control how muscles move, leading to apraxia of speech.
Despite his debilitating disorder, a resilient Kammy perseveres with weekly coordination exercises in hopes of improving his condition.
He added: ‘These are a way for me to get stronger.’
Chris – who played for Portsmouth, Leeds and Stoke during his on-field career – admits that some days he has no issues with being able to communicate, but he doesn’t get any warning of when he will have a bad day when his words won’t come out.
He shared: ‘Sometimes I think, it’s fine today, no problem. Then I go downstairs and talk to Anne and the message from the brain to the mouth won’t come out right. So it would be another day of anguish, thinking what should I do? Should I go to work today, or should I not?’
Chris’ wife of 40 years, Anne – whom he married in 1982 and has two sons. Ben, 35, and Jack, 34 – has seen her husband struggle with the new health challenges in his life.
She said: ‘Chris used to do everything at 100 miles an hour, so he is a different person. He just has to get used to the new person that he is.’
Chris wants to continue to share his story and do everything he can to improve his condition because he knows his celebrity status can shed light on all forms of speech impediments.
Sad: Chris’ wife of 40 years, Anne – whom he married in 1982 and has two sons. Ben, 35, and Jack, 34 – has seen her husband struggle with the new health challenges in his life (pictured with Grandson Mo in November)
He said: ‘I’m in a lot better place now than I was. I didn’t accept what was going on in my body. It’s a long process. It’s going the right way.
“I will continue now because I know while I’m out there and what I’m doing will be helping someone with a speech condition think, ‘If he can do it, I can do it.”
It comes ahead of Chris’ very personal journey as he seeks to discover a deeper insight into the condition for an ITV1 documentary.
In the uplifting authored documentary, Chris Kamara: Lost for Words, the football legend will give viewers unprecedented access into life with AOS.
From his initial denials through to his diagnosis and now to the disciplined way he manages his therapy, the documentary will follow Kammy as he seeks advice from experts and meets others with AOS who are also navigating their way through this rare condition.
TV personality: Kamara has worked as a personality on Sky Sports for more than two decades
The show will also shine a light and start a conversation about a condition doctors know very little about.
Speaking about the documentary, Chris said: ‘This documentary is a very personal one for me. I am really keen to raise awareness about Apraxia of Speech/Dyspraxia. Little is known about it which makes the diagnosis so much harder to navigate.
‘Hopefully by sharing my story it will raise awareness and also help people who may also be living with this condition by showing them that there are ways to manage it and to still live a fulfilling life.’
Chris Kamara: Lost for Words is on ITV1 Tuesday December 13 at 9pm
Coming soon: Chris Kamara: Lost for Words is on ITV1 Tuesday December 13 at 9pm