What Is A Voice Disorder?
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association | ASHA “A Voice Disorder occurs when voice quality, pitch, and loudness differ or are inappropriate for an individual’s age, gender, cultural background, or geographic location.” Another term used to describe voice disorders is dysphonia, which means an impairment of the voice.
Voice Disorders can be due to organic, functional, or psychogenic reasons.
- Organic Voice Disorders are the result of structural or neurologic damage. This includes vocal cord nodules, polyps, cysts, paralysis, tremors, and spasms.
- Functional Voice Disorders result from improper or inefficient use of the voice when the physical structure is normal, such as vocal fatigue and vocal tension.
- Psychogenic Voice Disorders are voice impairments that manifest after some psychological trauma, fear, or other emotional stress.
Some people are at a higher risk of developing voice disorders because of their occupations. This includes occupations requiring frequent vocal use, such as teachers, professional speakers, clergy, etc.
What Are Signs Of A Voice Disorder?
Most voice disorders will lead to a change in a person’s pitch, volume, or tone of voice. Signs of a voice disorder include:
- Breathy vocal quality
- Change in pitch or pitch range
- Chronic cough or excessive throat clearing
- Difficulty with breathing during speech
- Discomfort or pain with voice use
- Hoarse voice
- Inability to speak loudly or abnormal loudness
- Loss of voice
- Tremulous voice
- Vocal strain or tension
What Is Vocal Hygiene And How Can I Keep My Voice Healthy?
Whether we are conscious of it or not, we put a lot of wear and tear on our voices each day. Just like other parts of our bodies, our voice needs care to stay healthy. This is called vocal hygiene. Vocal hygiene is the act of nourishing and hydrating the vocal tract for a healthy voice. This encompasses the following:
- Avoiding yelling and screaming
- Avoiding smoking
- Eating a healthy diet
- Limiting caffeine and acid intake
- Limiting coughing and throat clearing
- Staying well hydrated
What Is Transgender Voice Therapy?
Voice therapy for the transgender population works to help the individual speak in a manner that resembles the identified gender. Whether the individual is of the male-to-female or female-to-male transgender population, he/she will benefit from training on how to change vocal and overall communication qualities to increase confidence in his/her speech. Voice therapy will focus on modifying many factors of communication in relation to the identified gender, including:
- Social communication
- Vocal tone
How Can Great Speech Help My Voice Disorder?
Whether your voice disorder originates from an organic, functional, or psychogenic problem, our ultimate goal is to help you use your voice optimally. Our Great Speech therapists are trained to thoroughly evaluate your voice, assess vocal habits, and diagnose a voice disorder. Often, we use a team approach to refer clients to medical professionals for a physical or neurological assessment and work together with the team to ensure client’s success.
Great Speech therapists will perform a thorough analysis of your voice and develop a personalized plan for your voice therapy. During the course of treatment, we will educate you on vocal anatomy and physiology, recommend vocal hygiene strategies or lifestyle modifications, and provide training on how to use the voice appropriately. We may work on the following skills to improve voice production:
- Coordination of breathing and speaking
- Improving vocal tone
- Improving vocal loudness
- Modifying vocal pitch
- Vocal relaxation
We look forward to helping you achieve your optimal voice! Please contact us to discuss how a simple screening may give you the answer you need.
Therapist Spotlight: Reim Michael M.S. CCC-SLP
Reim Michael has been a licensed speech-language pathologist for five years and a Great Speech therapist for two years. She graduated from the Pennsylvania State University with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a Neuroscience Emphasis. She went on to obtain a Master of Science Degree in Communicative Sciences and Disorders from The New York University.
While studying at NYU, Reim discovered a passion for treating voice disorders. She studied under an expert in the field and had the opportunity to receive training in the treatment of voice disorders and transgender voice issues. Reim utilizes advanced acoustic software during treatment to analyze clients’ voices and determine the best course of treatment.
Reim is experienced in treating individuals of all ages in the fields of speech, language, voice, cognitive, and swallowing disorders. Reim is very enthusiastic about helping others find their confidence and build their communication skills. She loves working with Great Speech to help individuals meet their goals!
Reim is currently licensed by the boards of Florida, North Carolina, and Texas. She holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
“I thought I had a bad case of laryngitis. But when my hoarse voice did not go away, I contacted Great Speech for a free consultation. They referred me to a medical specialist who diagnosed nodules on my vocal chords. While the physician treated the medical problem, my Great Speech specialist scheduled regular sessions with me to teach me how to use my voice efficiently and reduce strain on my vocal chords.”
Andy L., Orlando, Fl