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Voice Disorders

Voice, or the sound you make when you speak, is made by the vocal cords (more correctly, the vocal folds) as exhaled air passes through them causing rapid vibrations. The resulting sound is shaped by movements of the jaw, lips and tongue to produce the speech we use for communication.  Judgments of appropriate voice are made in terms of the pitch, loudness and the vocal quality used. 

A voice disorder exists when the characteristics of the voice interfere with communication; that is, the elements of pitch, loudness and quality are considered inappropriate in some way.  The overall pitch may be thought to be too high or too low.  Some voices may seem to be overly loud or are so soft that they can barely be heard.  Vocal quality may be judged as breathy, nasal or hoarse.  In addition, a voice disorder is present if there is pain or discomfort when speaking or singing. 

Voice disorders occur for a variety of reasons such as damage to the vocal folds; misuse of the voice as in screaming or yelling; smoking or of drinking too much alcohol; the natural effects of the aging process; and illness like Parkinson Disease or multiple sclerosis.  Growths on the vocal folds known as polyps or nodules affect the speaking voice.  Muscle weakness or paralysis of the vocal folds alters vocal ability.  When you suffer from an illness or misuse your voice, it may become difficult to make yourself understood.

The identification of a vocal disorder is a medical diagnosis made by an ENT (ears, nose and throat doctor).  Once an appropriate diagnosis has been made, the services of a Speech & Language Pathologist trained in the treatment of vocal disorders may become a part of the overall medical plan prescribed by the doctor.   The Speech & Language Pathologist can teach both the proper use of the voice and the needed strategies to improve the pitch, loudness and quality.

Constance Wieler has many years of experience working with children and adults who have been diagnosed with a voice disorder.  Constance is a certified provider of LSVT (Lee Silverman Voice Treatment), the gold standard of intervention for the voice disorders of Parkinson Disease and neurological voice disorders.  In addition, she is certified to provide Estil Voice (motor voice techniques),  LMRVT (Lessac-Madsen Resonant Voice Therapy) and CSCFT (Casper-Stone Confidential Flow Therapy) for an easy, less strained and fully resonant voice.  Through therapy, you are able to learn how to better communicate.

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