Vocal therapy employs a series of vocal exercises and speech therapy designed to avert or address voice-related issues such as hoarseness and laryngitis. Professionals in the field, including speech-language pathologists, respiratory therapists, and voice coaches, administer voice therapy sessions. In addition to conventional applications, voice therapy extends its benefits to the transgender community by aiding individuals in managing their pitch to attain either higher or lower voices.
What’s voice therapy?
Voice therapy is a transformative approach that guides individuals with voice disorders in modifying their vocal behaviors and facilitating the healing of their vocal cords. Through this therapeutic process, individuals can experience a revitalization of their voice, restoring its strength and resonance to a level reminiscent of its pre-disorder state.
Furthermore, voice therapy isn’t solely confined to remedial purposes; it also serves as a proactive measure in averting potential voice disorders. In another realm, individuals undergoing gender transition may find support in a specialized form of voice therapy known as gender-affirming voice therapy, which assists them in aligning their voice with their gender identity.
How does your voice work?
As you produce sounds, air flows through your lungs, travels into your windpipe (trachea), and reaches your voice box. Within the larynx lie two elastic vocal cords, also known as vocal folds. These pliable muscles undergo vibrations as air passes through them, generating the sound waves that form your unique voice.
In the usual course, your vocal cords harmoniously vibrate to create a distinct and clear sound. Vocal disorders manifest when these cords fall out of sync or fail to open or close completely.
The term “pitch” denotes the highness or lowness of your voice. The dimensions and tension of your vocal folds play a crucial role in determining pitch.
Voice disorders that need voice exercises or speech therapy
Voice therapy is helpful for both kids and grown-ups. If your doctor thinks you have a voice problem, they might suggest voice therapy. Here are some voice issues that voice therapy can help with:
- Laryngitis: This happens when allergies or a cold make your voice box swell. When the underlying issue gets better, laryngitis usually improves.
- Muscle Tension Dysphonia: When your vocal cords are under too much stress, your muscles tighten, causing this problem.
- Spasmodic Dysphonia/Vocal Tremor: This is a neurological issue where the muscles in your voice box spasm or shake, causing breaks in your speech.
- Vocal Cord Dysfunction (VCD): Your vocal cords want to close when they should stay open. This can make it hard to breathe during exercise or when your throat is irritated.
- Vocal Cord Lesions: Noncancerous growths like nodules, polyps, or cysts can form on your vocal cords, affecting your voice. People who talk a lot or sing, like teachers or singers, are more likely to get these.
- Vocal Cord Paralysis: One or both vocal folds can’t move or move less due to scar or nerve damage. This can lead to hoarseness, trouble swallowing, and difficulty breathing.
Who provides voice therapy techniques?
If your voice is giving you trouble, you might go to a laryngologist. This doctor specializes in fixing issues with the voice box. They can even do surgeries if necessary.
If your problem can be helped with therapy, the laryngologist might send you to a voice therapist. There are different types of specialists who can do this kind of therapy, like:
- Speech-language pathologist (therapist): They’re experts in helping with speech and language issues.
Respiratory therapist: These specialists can assist with breathing and lung-related problems that might affect your voice.
- Voice coach: These professionals can guide you on how to use your voice better and improve its quality.
What are different voice therapy techniques?
In voice therapy, your doctor shows you exercises that make your voice better. The exercises depend on why your voice has a problem. They can be:
- Breathing exercises: These help you control the muscle in your belly that helps you breathe and talk.
- Tension release exercises: This voice therapy for hoarseness can make your throat less tense. It might include stretching and massages.
- Sounds with a semi-closed throat: Like using a straw, making lip trills, humming, and more. These help your vocal cords vibrate better.
- Voice building exercises: These make your vocal cords stronger and improve how you breathe, especially if your vocal cords are weak.
What are the benefits of voice therapy?
Voice therapy is like a shield to keep your voice healthy. It teaches you good habits for using your vocal cords, so you don’t get problems like hoarseness, laryngitis, or lesions. People who sing a lot or talk a ton at work often face these issues, but voice therapy can prevent them.
If your vocal cords are swollen or have small lesions, voice therapy helps them get better by making them vibrate properly. Even after surgery on your vocal cords, voice therapy can help them heal. The best part is, there are no bad things or risks when you do voice therapy. It’s all about keeping your voice in good shape!
How long does voice therapy work?
How long and how much voice therapy you need depends on what’s causing the problem. Usually, people do voice therapy once or twice a week for a few months. It’s crucial to do what your voice therapist says and practice the vocal exercises at home for it to work well. Even after the therapy sessions are done, you can keep doing these exercises to make sure your vocal cords stay healthy.
Voice Exercises and Speech Therapy for Voice Disorders
Whether you’re facing issues like hoarseness, laryngitis, or vocal cord lesions, voice therapy, administered by dedicated professionals such as speech-language pathologists, respiratory therapists, and voice coaches, offers tailored exercises to strengthen and heal. Embrace the proactive benefits of voice therapy, extending its support to individuals undergoing gender transition through specialized gender-affirming voice therapy. Uncover the secrets of maintaining a strong, clear voice through breathing exercises to tension release techniques, voice therapy equips you with the tools to safeguard your voice. Take action now, consult a laryngologist or voice therapist, and embark on a journey towards vocal well-being.