What are voice disorders?
Disorders of the voice may occur along with disease, neurological conditions or as the result of how a person uses their voice. A voice disorder can result in ineffective communication that may impact the ability to express personal, occupational or medical needs. The goal of voice therapy is to improve vocal quality while reducing vocal effort. This can provide rehabilitation for a hoarse voice and improve voice function in occupational and professional voice users (e.g. lecturers, singers, actors.)
What types of services are offered?
Speech-language pathologists provide voice evaluations and therapy for traditional speakers and voice professionals. Prior to an evaluation, an examination of the vocal cords by an ear, nose and throat (ENT) provider is preferred.
An auditory-perceptual and acoustic voice evaluation includes a thorough analysis of voice behavior and function, as well as, social and emotional screening to assess use of voice for communication. Testing can include voice tasks, analysis of quality and diagnostic therapy to assess the best tools for rehabilitation.
Following a thorough evaluation, an appropriate treatment or voice training plan is selected for the patient’s individual needs. Treatment may include:
- Vocal hygiene education
- Diaphragmatic breathing
- Respiratory retraining
- Circumlaryngeal massage to help reduce muscle tension
- Resonant voice training, which improves vocal quality while reducing vocal effort
- Voice strengthening exercise programs such as the Lee Silverman Voice Training (LSVT-LOUD) for patients with Parkinson’s disease and Phonation Resistance Training Exercises (PhoRTE) for patients with presbyphonia (aging voice)
- Gender affirming voice training
What are the symptoms of a voice disorder?
- Rough or strained vocal quality
- Breathy vocal quality
- Hoarse voice
- Pitch is too high or too low
- Volume is too loud or too soft
- Loss of voice
- Increased fatigue with talking
- Running out of breath while speaking
- Frequent coughing or throat clearing
- Excessive throat tension or pain
- Difficulty breathing with throat tightness
Who benefits from voice services?
Individuals of all ages benefit from voice therapy. Individuals with the following diagnoses may benefit from voice services:
- Vocal nodules or polyps
- Vocal cord dysfunction / Paradoxical vocal fold motion / Exercise induced laryngeal obstruction
- Vocal cord paresis or paralysis
- Muscle tension dysphonia
- Cancers of the head and neck
- Parkinson’s disease
- Presbyphonia (aging voice)
- Professional and occupational voice users (e.g. lecturers, singers, actors) seeking a healthier way of using their voice to enhance vocal longevity and job performance
- Individuals seeking gender affirming voice training