Voice disorders, medically known as dysphonia, are persistent changes to your normal voice, the result of problems with the process of speech. While there are many causes behind dysphonia, voice therapy is a common treatment for many patients.
Voice therapy helps you to “unlearn” speech habits that take a toll on your vocal folds, two bands of muscle in your larynx. When you speak or sing, these muscles vibrate and your brain controls their motion to form the wide range of sounds you’re able to generate.
Like other muscles in your body, they can be used and abused.
If voice therapy is right for you, your doctor at Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates recommends a speech pathologist to conduct your sessions. Lessons and exercises are customized to your voice and larynx conditions, to reinforce good habits and strong muscles, allowing your voice to heal and return to normal.
Effective therapy also prevents further problems in the future.
Once your dysphonia condition is diagnosed, any necessary medical treatment is typically treated first, but voice therapy may begin shortly after. Sessions are generally conducted one or more times a week, lasting 45 minutes. Your session may be shorter or longer depending on treatment needs.
While each patient is different, your voice therapist likely leads you through some or all of these exercises:
You may also have other exercises or routines targeted to specific aspects of your disorder. You may, for example, have drills to speak in a higher or lower pitch, if your dysphonia has you speaking outside your normal register.
Sometimes, anxiety plays a role in your voice disorder, as a cause or as a result. You may have exercises designed to reduce anxiety and build confidence.
Voice therapy typically addresses the mechanics of phonation. You may have voice therapy as part of your treatment after a stroke or when you have a neurological condition such as Parkinson’s disease. Voice therapy may be accompanied by speech therapy to help you recover word formation.
Some elements of voice therapy are done at home, without guidance from your therapist. In many cases, your exercises are intended to create new muscle memory to replace weak habits.
Therefore, the more you repeat the voice exercises, the more easily these new, positive habits can suppress the issues that initially created your voice disorder.
The voice therapy process starts with a dysphonia diagnosis. Contact Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates in Lawrence or Ottawa to schedule an exam. Call the nearest office to book your appointment when you have a voice disorder that’s not clearing on its own. You can regain your voice, so call now to start the process.