Voice Exercises

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Performing Voice Exercises

Voice Exercises for Voice Hypofunction and Voice Hyperfunction

You may have been referred to a speech-language pathologist/voice therapist because of difficulty you are having with using your voice. Common problems include: hypophonia or a voice that is too soft or weak to be heard. A weak voice may be due to a vocal fold paralysis or weakness or may be due to generalized weakness associated with a neuromuscular disease or disorder such as Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, or ALS. Persons who have had their voice box removed (laryngectomee) and who are now using a new way of speaking, may have difficulty being heard when speaking in a group or noisy setting. Voice hyperfunction usually refers to a voice problem that causes one’s voice to sound hoarse, strained, or rough. Voice hyperfunction is sometimes associated with nodules or calluses that have formed on the vocal folds from straining or misuse of the voice. Voice hyperfunction is also associated with excessive muscle tension that has developed due to muscle imbalance or muscle misuse. Both types of voice disorders may also be present in older adults whose voice mechanism has become weakened.

Regardless of the reason for your voice impairment, any change in your voice that persists for two or more weeks warrants a visit to an Ear Nose and Throat Doctor (ENT). The ENT will be able to look directly at your larynx (voice box) with special equipment, and determine if your problem requires medical treatment, vice therapy, or both.

When referred to a speech-language pathologist for voice therapy, you will undergo a clinical voice evaluation. During this evaluation, some measurements of your speech such as volume and pitch may be taken, and the therapist will discuss a treatment plan that incorporates your goals and voice needs. Depending on your medical and voice diagnosis, some treatment approaches include:

Vocal hygiene education includes identifying any voice habits that have contributed to your voice problem. This includes elimination of tobacco and caffeine products and managing symptoms of acid reflux.

Resonant voice treatment which uses techniques designed to shift the focus of voice production from your throat to higher up in your head where the sound can resonate more easily.

Respiratory muscle training, if breath support is a related issue because of a neuromuscular disorder or respiratory disease. Instruction in diaphragmatic breathing is helpful. A respiratory muscle trainer may help heighten awareness about proper breathing technique and strengthen the muscles used during phonation (voice production).

Vocal Function Exercises are often provided as written or recorded exercises such as those found on the Voice Aerobics™ DVD or Breathwork video. These types of exercises may include progressive relaxation exercises and when completed daily, on your own at home, may help you achieve your therapy goals quicker and easier.

Voice Amplification: Use of a personal voice amplifier may also be recommended by your physician or voice therapist. Amplification can provide power to your voice when you need it, such as social settings and reduce further voice straining. Amplification for a weak or soft voice will also benefit your listeners, who will appreciate not having to ask you to repeat.