In our last blog, we discussed two common issues that affect vocal function: nodules and polyps. Both nodules and polyps are masses of tissue that form on the vocal chords and can cause a range of voice production issues. Once a person has been diagnosed as having polyps or nodules by their physician, voice therapy with a speech-language pathologist is often recommended. How exactly can a speech language pathologist and voice therapy help?
First, since nodules and polyps are both caused by vocal abuse, the speech-language pathologist will help to identify the behavior that initially caused the injury. Then, they will address the issue in a number of ways:
–Vocal behavior modification: The speech-language pathologist will provide strategies to help the client speak in a healthier manner. In many cases, this means reducing neck and laryngeal tension, or improving breathing habits. A course of exercises will be implemented, gradually employing these new behaviors and extinguishing the old. Usually, a series of exercises to practice at home between sessions will also be given.
–Environmental modification: Often bad vocal habits are a product of a specific environment, for example, a teacher who speaks loudly over a classroom filled with chattering students. In addition to teaching the above-described techniques for better vocal production, the voice coach may suggest ways to modify the environment to make vocalizing easier. For example, in the case of the teacher, a voice amplification system may be recommended during class, or another means of gaining attention that does not use the voice at all (e.g. a whistle) may be employed.
–Improved vocal habits: Finally, the speech therapist may recommend everyday habits that will improve vocal quality. These can include better hydration and reconsidering how much you use your voice and under what conditions.
If you or someone you know is experiencing issues with voice use, contact your physician, and find a speech-language pathologist who can help you get back to sounding like yourself again! Visit us at www.speechassociatesofny.com today to find a speech-language pathologist who’s right for you.