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Vibrational Voice Therapy!

March 15, 2013

Take a minute and think about some of the things that you pretty much do everyday. Your list might include things like getting out of bed, breathing, eating, drinking, checking your text messages and email….but an important item you may not have considered is the simple use of your voice!

While we have many modes of communication available to us, the most typical (and unappreciated) form of communication is conversation; using your voice to speak to the people in your life (or maybe even to yourself when you think no one is watching.) The saying goes “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”, and this is definitely true of our voices, especially for individuals who make a career out of using their voices.

So what happens if you lose your voice or wake up one day with a tight, strained voice that gets in the way of your everyday life? Researchers at the University of Alberta are currently exploring a new method of voice treatment using an unlikely tool to get back a lost voice and unlock a voice’s true potential!

David Ley, professor in the Drama Department at the U of A, along with Dr. Melanie Campbell, and students Angie Musca and Stephanie Peddle from the Speech Pathology Department teamed up to explore how a small handheld vibrator could be used as a way to relax tight laryngeal muscles and treat vocal fatigue. To get more information on this project, I contacted Angie, one of the SLP students who selected this topic for her SPA 900 project:

Why were you interested in this project?

Angie: “I was interested in this project because I have always had an interest in learning more about the voice and how to treat problems associated with it. I liked the idea of a project that was interdisciplinary, pairing science with the arts. It gives the research a real life application. This project is also on the cutting edge of research on a technique like this, so it’s cool that we get to be a part of something that could potentially be huge!”

What exactly is the purpose of this project?
Angie: “The goal of this project is to test the efficacy and safety and transferability of using an external vibratory source as a method to relax the laryngeal muscles and treat vocal fatigue in singers, teachers, and anyone else who overuses or misuses their voice. This is a huge undertaking, so our particular project is actually to set up the pathway for research in this area, including a lit review and rough protocol to follow. No formal “results” have been obtained, but you can definitely hear a change in the quality of a voice after using the device, the person reports feeling a difference (less tension, more “free”), and you can see an acoustic difference when the voice is recorded and analyzed. So something is definitely happening, but it will be the job of future researchers to find out what!

This research is definitely an area to keep an eye on, especially for those speechies who hope to work with clients with voice problems in the future!  What do you think of this research and the unconventional use of the “tools” involved? Leave a comment below!

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 1, 2013 5:48 am

    Great post.

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