When someone has significant and persistent difficulties with their vocal quality, they are described as having a ‘voice disorder’.
Why might someone have a voice disorder?
There are three critical parts involved in making a good quality voice. Your breathing, your ‘voice box’ (larynx) and your ‘resonators’ (how the sound is changed by the air-filled cavities through which it passes on its way to the outside air). These three things must work well together to produce a clear and healthy quality.
The voice box (larynx) in your throat is a very sensitive system and small changes to different parts of it can make a difference to the quality/pitch/loudness of the voice.
For example, a little bit of increased tension in your neck or throat can alter the way that your vocal folds (cords) vibrate, creating a rough or hoarse sound, or a gap between your vocal folds can make your voice sound breathy.
Why might someone have these difficulties?
One common reason for poor vocal quality is overuse of the voice. This often occurs with people whose jobs involve a lot of use of the voice such as teachers, trainers, referees or nurses.
Another reason for voice changes is poor voice care. Vocal care refers to looking after the parts of your voice that can commonly become fatigued. Drinking adequate water, reducing coughing or throat clearing and giving your voice a rest can make a significant difference to how well your voice can recover.
Damage to the vocal folds or the nerves that supply them can also lead to voice changes. This can occur following trauma to the neck, during surgery in the head/neck area or intubation during surgery.
Individuals with Parkinson’s Disease also often have difficulties with voice loudness and clarity due to some difficulty coordinating all the components of making a good voice.
Natural ageing of the vocal folds, which may become bowed, leaving a gap in the between them, can also lead to voice changes.
What does voice therapy involve?
Pathology can involve a range of different techniques, exercises and strategies which aim to address the specific difficulty causing the changed vocal quality. Vocal care is also critical to improving vocal quality.
There are also programs that have been specifically developed to target the vocal quality of individuals with Parkinson’s Disease. Many of the clinicians at Adult Speech Therapy have undertaken this special training so we can discuss this treatment with you.
We also provide specific voice therapy for age related voice changes called PhoRTE® which requires specific training to deliver the technique. Phonation Resistance Training Exercises (PhoRTE®) is voice therapy for age-related voice changes (presbyphonia) that occur in older adults. PhoRTE® uses high intensity vocal exercise to systematically rehabilitate the vocal mechanism and improve vocal endurance.
If you are concerned about your voice or the voice of a loved one, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Adult Speech Therapy on 0466592104 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org