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Suffolk Center for Speech

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Why do we use relaxation techniques in voice therapy?

What it is:

  • A therapy technique to alleviate stress variables of the vocal tract which helps the patient to identify stressor and learn methods to improve relaxation and reduce stress in order to improve their voice quality

How it works:

  • It begins with educating the patient on stress management methods.

  • Differential relaxation: deliberately tensing and relaxing specific muscles which helps the patient to discriminate between what muscle contraction and muscle relaxation is.

    • Tensing and relaxation starts farther away from the voice box and moves up the limb towards the torso and includes the chest, neck, voice box, throat, and through to the mouth and various parts of the face.

  • Use of feedback devices:

    • Devices such as galvanic skin response, pulse rate, blood pressure and muscle responsiveness through electromyographic tracings can be used to motor patients relaxation after performing a relaxed behavior such as yawning.

    • Using these the patient can learn what it “feels” like to be relaxed or without tension.

  • Head rotation

    • The patient sits in a backless chair and drops their head towards their chest and moves head in a circular rotation towards one shoulder, to the back, to the other shoulder, and back to the chest

    • When relaxation is reported, have the patient produce “ah” while rolling their head. It can also be recorded to learn how their relaxed phonation sounds compared to other phonations.

  • Open throat relaxation/ yawn-sigh

    • Lower head slightly towards their chest and instruct to make an open, prolonged yawn while focusing on how the throat feels while doing it.

    • instruct them to produce “ah” while feeling the same feeling of the yawn.

    • Record any phonations produced that have the same feeling as the yawn so the patient can use them as target models.

  • Have the patient think of a relaxed setting

    • Have the patient describe a setting that for them is the most relaxing had have the patient capture the relaxed feelings they imagine in that setting and have them practice imagining the relaxation of the setting when in future tense situations

What it is used for:

  • Patients who have faulty voices with tensions associated with their vocal problems

  • Voice symptoms related to stress:

    • Diplophonia, dry throat and mouth, harshness, elevated pitch, functional dysphonia, shortness of breath

-Marykate K.

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