Three Ways to Treat Voice Disorders
What are voice disorders? Voice disorders are changes to either the structure and/or function of the laryngeal mechanism. This causes the larynx to differ in terms of voice quality, pitch, and loudness compared to those of individuals from a similar age, gender, and cultural background. A voice disorder is present when an individual expresses concern about having an abnormal voice that does not meet daily needs—even if others do not perceive it as different or deviant (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association [ASHA], 1993; Colton & Casper, 2011; Stemple et al., 2010; Verdolini & Ramig, 2001).
What are three ways to treat voice disorders?
The goal of voice treatment is to restore the best voice possible. This includes a voice that focuses on functional outcomes for the purposes of employment opportunities, social interactions, and activities of daily living. Voice programs should target adherence, generalization, and education on how to use one’s voice properly and eliminate the resurgence of the voice disorder/pathology most effectively and efficiently. Treatment approaches can be direct and indirect and may include a combination of strategies. Three common treatment approaches include the following:
1. Semi-occluded vocal tract (SOVT) exercises: Involve narrowing points along the vocal tract in order to maximize interaction between vocal fold vibration and the vocal tract. Included in this is straw phonation or lip trills. Straw phonation includes phonating through a straw or tube. Individuals practice sustaining vowels, performing pitch glides, and humming songs. Lip trill exercises involve a smooth movement of air through the oral cavity over the lips, causing a vibration (lip buzz). The focus is to improve breath support and produce voicing without tension.
2. Resonant voice therapy: Uses a continuum of oral sensations and easy phonation to achieve the strongest voice with the least effort and impact between the vocal folds. This program incorporates humming and both voiced and voiceless productions that are shaped into phrase and conversational productions.
3. Vocal function exercises (VFE’s): These are a series of systematic voice manipulations designed to facilitate return to healthy voice function by strengthening and coordinating laryngeal musculature and improving the relationship among airflow, vocal fold vibration, and phonation. Exercises include warming up while sustaining vowels, pitch glides, and prolonged phonation of vowels at selected pitches. Exercises are completed twice a day and individuals are advised to use a soft tone without tension during productions.
Overall, treatment selection depends on the type and severity of the disorder and the communication needs of the individual. For more information please visit: