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Professions That Are Susceptible to Voice Disorders

Ryan Branski, PhD, Shirley Gherson, CCC-SLP

September 10, 2021

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Question

Are there particular professions that are inherently more susceptible to voice disorders? 

Answer

Some occupations are more at risk for developing a voice disorder than others. This risk may depend on the amount of talking required (vocal load), the intensity of voice use, and/or the work environment (Phyland & Miles, 2019). High-risk professions include, but are not limited to teachers, performers, clergy, lecturers, receptionists, and group fitness instructors. Teachers in particular are highly susceptible to voice problems given the sheer amount of prolonged and projected voice use in the classroom (Roy et al, 2004). If you are unsure of your patient’s vocal demands, map out their daily activities. It can be an eye-opening experience, and also provide guidance as to how much of the acquired voice problem may be associated with your patient’s vocational voice use and requirements. 

Professions requiring high levels of voice use are growing, however asking a patient to rest their voice for long periods of time may not be possible. In addition, the patient may already feel increasingly limited by their voice disorder both at work and in social settings. Rather, the patient should be encouraged to alter their style of speaking and develop more efficient use of voice with less stress on the mechanism. This alteration should enhance vocal stamina and quality, while reducing stress on the vocal injury. A multitude of voice therapy strategies train the patient to enhance airflow and resonance in the context of speech. In addition, training supportive strategies such as modifying the environment (e.g., lowering background noise, slowing down, and/or using a personal amplification device) can also be helpful in facilitating recovery in spite of a vocally taxing job. 

Refer to the SpeechPathology.com course, 20Q: Putting Research into Practice: Application of Voice Science In the Therapy Room, for more information on evidence-based treatment strategies and principles for patients with voice disorders.

 


ryan branski

Ryan Branski, PhD

Ryan C. Branski is the Howard A. Rusk Associate Professor of Rehabilitation Research and the Vice Chair for Research in Rehabilitation Medicine at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine. He also holds appointments in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery in the school of medicine and Communicative Sciences and Disorders in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University. His laboratory program is funded by the National Institutes of Health and he is one of only a few investigators to be named Fellow of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association, the American Laryngological Association, and the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.


shirley gherson

Shirley Gherson, CCC-SLP

Shirley Gherson, CCC-SLP is a speech pathologist and voice specialist at the NYU Voice Center.  She is on faculty at the Communication Sciences and Disorders Program at NYU Steinhardt where she has developed curriculum for and teaches voice disorders. She also holds an appointment as a clinical assistant professor in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at NYU Grossman School of Medicine. Ms. Gherson has over 20 years of experience working exclusively with voice and airway disorders, and has authored and co-authored numerous textbook chapters and research articles on the subject. 


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