Voice is the sound made by air passing from your lungs through your larynx, or voice box. A voice disorder is characterized by the abnormal production and/or absences of vocal quality, pitch, loudness, resonance, and duration, which is inappropriate for an individual's age or sex. Many things we do can injure our vocal cords. Talking too much, screaming, constantly clearing your throat, or smoking can make you hoarse. They can also lead to problems such as nodules, polyps, and sores on the vocal cords. Other causes of voice disorders include infections, upward movement of stomach acids into the throat, growths due to a virus, cancer, and diseases that paralyze the vocal cords.
Individuals with voice concerns may be evaluated by a team of graduate student clinicians under direct supervision of a certified instructor. One or two sessions may be scheduled, followed by an information-sharing session and a complete written report. A comprehensive exam will include a thorough case history, an examination of the oral mechanism, and assessment of vocal characteristics. If medical concerns arise, referral to a medical professional may be necessary.
Voice therapy is a program designed to encourage vocal health through guided change in vocal behaviors and lifestyle, consisting of a variety of tasks designed to eliminate harmful patterns, shape healthy voice use, and assist in vocal fold wound healing after surgery or injury. The duration of therapy is determined by the origin and severity of the problem, co-occurring medical therapy, and, most importantly, patient commitment to the practice and implementation of new vocal behaviors outside the therapy session. Therapy sessions are tailored to the specific needs of each client, with input from the client or client’s family.