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At the Eckelmann-Taylor Speech and Hearing Clinic, quality services are provided to persons who desire to improve their vocal quality, pitch, and loudness. Here, speech-language pathologists and graduate student clinicians collaborate with both children and adult clients to provide evaluation and treatment for a wide range of voice and resonance problems.

What is a voice/resonance disorder?

A voice disorder is a condition that occurs when a person has abnormal pitch, loudness, or volume that interferes with his or her daily needs. Voice disorders may be broken down into subcomponents of organic and functional disorders. An organic voice disorder is one that occurs from a physiological change to the respiratory, laryngeal, or vocal tract mechanism. A person who suffers from an organic voice disorder may experience structural or neurogenic deficits related to his or her voice. An organic voice disorder that is structural may result from physical changes in the vocal mechanism, such as vocal fold nodules or edema, or age-related structural changes to the larynx. An organic voice disorder that is neurogenic may result from problems with the central or peripheral nervous system innervation to the larynx, in turn affecting the function of the voice. This type of disorder may result in vocal tremor, spasmodic dysphonia, or paralysis of the vocal folds.

Persons seeking speech and language services may also suffer from a functional voice disorder. A functional voice disorder is caused by improper and inefficient use of the voice, aside from any physical damage to the structures that produce voice. A functional voice disorder includes vocal fatigue, muscle tension, dysphonia or aphonia, diplohponia, or ventricular phonation.

It’s likely that many voice disorders will overlap, as functional voice disorders can lead to structural changes to the voice. Intervention for voice disorders first begins with assessment to identify and describe impairments in the structure and function of the voice, co-morbid deficits or other health conditions that may be present, environmental and personal factors, and quality of life as it relates to a person’s communication impairment. Once assessment has been conducted, treatment may involve direct and indirect approaches, as well as patient education and counseling to rehabilitate the voice. More specific treatment options may be made available following assessment.

Assessment and treatment

Clinicians at Illinois State University provide assessment and interventions for individuals seeking support for voice-related issues. Each client will receive personalized treatment that most closely aligns with his or her individual goals.

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