A dysphonia, or voice disorder can have a huge impact on our lives emotionally, socially and financially. Our voice gives us our sense of identity and when it is disrupted it can have a significant impact on our self-esteem and wellbeing.
I have worked with a vast range of patients from children through to the elderly, in addition to those who have undergone surgical procedures, those experiencing high emotional stress and those seeking to change gender.
Some examples of how voice therapy can help patients are listed below:
The Ageing Voice
Ageing is a natural process that affects us all. Peoples’ voices change with age due to a number of body change processes e.g. joint stiffening, muscle weakness, reduction of respiratory capacity etc.
Last year I was referred an 82 year old gentleman with a diagnosis of presbyphonia (i.e. ageing larynx). Although he was retired and no longer had a huge amount of voice use, he did like to sing in his church regularly.
Therapy initially targeted improving his vocal hygiene measures, in particular increasing his levels of hydration which he found challenging. We worked on improving his breath support for voice using a range of respiratory pattern exercises. We then moved to exercises which targeted improving both vocal fold closure and strengthening before introducing gentle vocal warm-up exercises to really help improve his singing ability. Outcomes were very good as his voice no longer had the breathy quality it had previously and his confidence in his voice greatly improved when both talking and singing.
Ways in which you can keep your voice young include:
Keep yourself well hydrated. Aim to drink eight glasses of water (or non-caffeinated fluids) throughout the day.
- Vocal Warm-ups:
Practicing vocal warm-ups every morning can help you achieve much more from your voice.
Walking, swimming and cycling are excellent ways to keep you fit and healthy. This helps keep your body stronger and more flexible. Breathing and posture can be greatly helped by exercise. More gentle exercises such as Yoga and Pilates are also extremely beneficial.
- Healthy Diet:
Eating a healthy and varied diet and keeping alcohol to a minimum promotes healthy tissues of the vocal tract.
Singing has now been proven to help lift our mood in addition to keeping our vocal muscles healthy. Choirs are a great way to build confidence in singing.