Voice therapy is a treatment method that can be used in all voice problems. While it is used as the only treatment method in some voice disorders, in others it can be used as a support before and after medical (with medication) or surgical treatment. Although very useful, there is no unique voice therapy method for any voice pathology. On the contrary, the sound therapy method, intensity and duration chosen for each patient should be different from each other according to the needs of the patient. Ideally, the cause of the patient’s voice problem should be determined before starting voice therapy. For this purpose, it is necessary to perform an objective voice analysis and evaluate the vocal cords with videoingostroboscopy. The findings obtained should be evaluated together with the patient and the team that will play an active role in voice therapy (Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist and Voice Pathologist), and if the patient is a voice professional, other people interested in their voice (such as Voice Coach, Singing Instructor) and therapy goals should be determined.
The sudden increase in information about the larynx (larynx, dagger) in recent years has increased the interest in the physiology, disorders and treatment of voice and voice disorders. In this way, significant progress has been made in the objective evaluation of the voice and the visualization of the vocal cords. Thus, much faster and more accurate diagnoses are obtained and the treatment process can be started as soon as possible. Since the time constraints of both health professionals dealing with voice disorders and voice professionals who make a living with their voices increase with each passing day, today’s voice therapy protocols are planned as approximately 6-10 sessions. While the goals of each sound therapy method are different, there are some general goals that are universal to all sound therapy techniques. These are important for both pre- and post-surgical voice therapy, and voice therapy to be used as a sole treatment:
- Patient education: Patient education is the first step for all treatment protocols. Each patient should understand how the voice is produced and how their problem is causing distress in their voice. The patient should understand the logic of voice therapy, the technique to be used and the goals of the therapy. It will be difficult for the patient to adapt to the treatment program if the treatment approach is not in the mind of the patient, or if the person who will administer the therapy is not determined or does not provide adequate explanations.
- Sound hygiene: In addition to the sound hygiene rules that should be applied for each patient, specific attention should be paid to each patient and the issues to be done/not done accordingly should be determined. For example, adequate fluid intake and, if necessary, humidification of the environment are important for all voice users. Having information about personal sound usage habits, knowing the environment in which sound is used intensively and the noise characteristics in the environment, and examining other environmental factors will enable the acquisition of healthier sound habits. Not smoking, reducing general stress, knowing the drugs used and their effects on body fluids are also important requirements.
- Fixing excessive sound use behavior: It is important to enable individuals with hoarseness to speak in a lower voice, to prevent loud speech, and to prevent habitual or frequently repeated throat clearing. The total use of sound during the day should be reduced. Loud laughing, crying, and coughing are also voice-damaging behaviors. All these rules can be used for individuals with voice problems, except for patients with neurologic causes or hypofunctional hoarseness.
- Agreed goals and expectations:The individual with a voice problem and the person who will give the voice therapy should be in agreement that there is a problem with the voice, something needs to be done about it, the path to be followed and the intended goals.
- Being able to notice changes in the patient’s voice: If the patient cannot notice or feel the changes in his voice that occur with sound therapy, voice therapy cannot be beneficial. This is a situation that we do not see frequently in audio professionals, but we encounter a lot, especially in the elderly population and individuals with neurological problems.
I wish you all good health…