Voice & Swallowing Disorders
Treating Voice Disorders at Wake Forest Baptist
addition to extensive swallowing therapies, Wake Forest
Baptist offers advanced treatments for patients with voice problems. We work closely with each patient to create a
treatment plan that may include one or more of the following:
Pulsed KTP laser
The pulsed KTP laser technology procedure to treat vocal fold lesions can be done in the
office. A thin,
flexible telescope is passed through the nose to get advanced imaging and easy
access to the larynx, or voice box.
This is a minimally invasive procedure during which a
small camera is passed either through the nose (flexible distal chip endoscope)
or the mouth (rigid endoscope) to take magnified pictures of the throat while
the patient makes different sounds. The video is recorded and used to evaluate
laryngeal function, assess vibratory characteristics of the vocal folds and
determine if any lesions or growths are in the larynx. The physician uses this
information to determine the cause of vocal complaints. Learn more about laryngeal videostroboscopy.
Laryngeal Control Therapy
Laryngeal control therapy teaches
patients how to prevent or quickly resolve episodes of shortness of breath
(SOB) caused by paradoxical vocal fold movement, also known as vocal cord
dysfunction. This is done through a combination of breathing exercises designed
to help the vocal folds fully open and relax during episodes of SOB, called
respiratory retraining, and therapy to reduce upper airway sensitivity to
triggers. Therapy includes education on ways to improve laryngeal health and
hygiene. Laryngeal control therapy may also be used to address chronic cough or
throat clearing associated with irritable larynx syndrome and is sometimes
recommended in conjunction with medication. Patients are typically seen for 2-4
sessions, approximately once every 2-3 weeks.
electromyography is a test that is performed in conjunction with a neurologist
to test the strength of the muscles in the larynx, or voice box. Learn more about laryngeal electromyography.
Patients have a comprehensive
acoustic and perceptual voice evaluation to analyze the severity of the voice
disorder, determine how the complaints affect daily vocal demands and assess
the likelihood of positive response to voice therapy. If the patient enjoys singing, be it around
the home, in church or professionally, the evaluation includes assessment of
the singing voice by our voice pathologist and singing voice specialist. The patient and clinician review the findings
and work together to formulate the goals for voice therapy. In the majority of cases, vocal complaints
resolve or significantly improve within 3 to 5 sessions, with the patient
typically seen every 1 to 2 weeks.
Acoustic data may be used to aid
in the diagnosis of certain neurological conditions affecting the voice, such
as spasmodic dysphonia or tremor, or to determine the effectiveness of Botox
injections. Patients who undergo surgical excision of a lesion on the vocal
folds are typically referred for both pre and post-operative voice therapy to
Voice therapy is tailored to each individual. Techniques
may include low abdominal breathing, resonant voicing, easy onsets, flow
phonation, confidential voicing, open throat phonation, voice building
(strengthening), respiratory retraining and call-out exercises. Vocal flexibility or strengthening exercises
are frequently accompanied on the piano, with patients given a CD of the exercises
to practice at home. The goal of therapy is to give the patient the tools
needed to consistently produce a clear, strong voice.
Make an Appointment with Voice Team
Call 716-WAKE or request an appointment online.