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Functional Voice Disorders & Vocal Nodules

What is Functional Voice Disorders & Vocal Nodules ?

Functional voice disorders refer to conditions where the voice is affected primarily by misuse, abuse, or psychological factors rather than structural or neurological issues. These disorders manifest as alterations in pitch, volume, quality, or resonance of the voice, often without any physiological abnormalities. Examples include muscle tension dysphonia, where excessive tension in the muscles of the larynx affects voice production, and vocal nodules, caused by repeated vocal abuse or overuse. Functional voice disorders may result from habits like shouting, excessive talking, or improper vocal technique. Psychological factors
such as stress, anxiety, or emotional trauma can also contribute to their development. Treatment typically involves voice therapy to address underlying behaviors, techniques to improve vocal production, and counseling or stress management strategies to address psychological components. In severe cases, medical intervention or surgical procedures may be necessary to restore vocal function.

Vocal nodules are noncancerous growths on the vocal cords caused by repeated vocal strain or misuse. They appear as small, callous-like bumps, impairing vocal function and causing hoarseness or a rough voice. Treatment often involves voice therapy to reduce strain and promote healthy vocal habits, sometimes requiring surgical removal.

How can Speech Therapy help people with Functional Voice Disorders & Vocal Nodules ?

Speech therapy is instrumental in treating voice disorders, including vocal nodules, by addressing underlying causes and improving vocal production techniques. Therapists work to reduce vocal strain and misuse through a variety of exercises and strategies.

For vocal nodules specifically, speech therapy focuses on several key areas:

Vocal Hygiene: Therapists educate patients on proper vocal care, including techniques for vocal rest, hydration, and avoiding vocal abuse.

Vocal Technique: Patients learn optimal vocal production techniques, such as breath support, resonance, and pitch modulation, to reduce strain on the vocal cords and promote healthy voice production.

Behavior Modification: Therapy helps individuals identify and modify habits that contribute to vocal nodules, such as speaking loudly, yelling, or using an incorrect speaking pitch.

Muscle Relaxation: Techniques to reduce tension in the muscles surrounding the larynx are taught, aiding in the prevention of further vocal cord trauma.

Vocal Exercises: Customized exercises target specific vocal issues, strengthening vocal muscles, improving coordination, and enhancing overall vocal quality.

Monitoring Progress: Speech therapists monitor progress closely, adjusting therapy techniques as needed to ensure effective treatment outcomes

Through consistent therapy sessions and diligent practice, individuals with vocal nodules can often experience significant improvement in vocal function, reduced hoarseness, and overall voice quality. In some cases, therapy may be complemented by medical interventions such as surgical removal of nodules for optimal results.

Some of the Evidence-based therapies used to treat functional voice disorders include Resonance Voice Therapy and the Yawn-Sigh technique. Resonance Voice Therapy, developed by Dr. Joseph Stemple, focuses on adjusting vocal resonance through exercises targeting the vocal tract. It aims to optimize vocal resonance and reduce strain. The Yawn-Sigh technique, developed by Dr. Morton Cooper, involves intentional yawning followed by a controlled sigh to relax vocal muscles and improve vocal function. Both therapies have shown effectiveness in clinical studies for treating functional voice disorders by addressing vocal misuse and promoting healthy vocal habits.

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02 9139 8909

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