Voice disorders may be caused by several different factors, events, physical ailments, and diseases. Voice therapy has been administered to those who experience hoarseness, breathiness, or raspy vocal quality. The purpose of voice therapy is to help an individual use their voice without stress or tension and relieve the vocal symptoms that may be bothering him/her. Each voice therapy program should be tailored to the personal needs of the individual. For example, some individuals may join a voice therapy program to reduce the feeling of “something” in their throat, others may come to reduce a strained feeling in their neck, increase their volume, attain the voice quality they always wanted, or relieve achy tension in their throat.
Just like anything else, it is important for individuals to take care of their voice. Vocal hygiene refers to the habits used to support a healthy and strong voice throughout an individual’s life. Important vocal habits include:
- Healthy diet and lifestyle
- Not smoking
- Eliminating habitual and frequent throat clearing
- Drinking water to hydrate
- Control vocal loudness
- Balance vocal demands and voice rest
- Control breath support
- Use caution with medications (over the counter & prescription)
- Monitoring symptoms Acid-reflux
- Vocal warm-ups before use
Speech therapists can work with adults and children who suffer from voice disorders that affect pitch, loudness, and overall vocal quality. Often speech therapists will work on the following areas:
- Easy onsets
Breath support is a key component that helps to create the power behind an individual’s voice. Speech therapists can work on diaphragmatic breathing. Using this technique can help an individual gain control of their airflow while they are using connected speech.
Voicing refers to the vibrations of the vocal folds. The goal of voicing is to adduct the vocal folds together without strenuous pushing or squeezing.
Easy onset refers to the interaction of the vocal folds during the production of a word beginning with a vowel sound. The individual will want to restrain themselves from producing a hard glottal attack and abusive burst of air through the vocal folds. Using this technique can help an individual focus on easily transitioning into sounds.
Lastly, resonance refers to the vibratory properties of the sound/voice above the laryngeal level or glottis. Focusing on establishing vocal production at a higher level can help to reduce tension at the level of the voice box.
Remembering Steps for Vocal Hygiene
V Value your voice through healthy diet and lifestyle.
O Optimize your voice with vocal warm-ups before use.
I Invest in your voice with training in proper voice technique.
C Cherish your voice by avoiding voice misuse, overuse, and abuse.
E Exercise your voice to increase endurance and power.
Kimberly Chirco MA CF-SLP, TSSLD
Stuckey, K., M.Ed, CCC-SLP, & Daymut, J. A., M.A., CCC-SLP. (2011). Promoting Easy Vocal Productions. Retrieved from http://handyhandouts.com/pdf/335_Vocal_Productions.pdf
Voice Disorder Prevention. (n.d.). http://voicefoundation.org/health-science/voice-disorders/overview-of-diagnosis-treatment-prevention/voice-disorder-prevention/