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Professions That Are Susceptible to Voice Disorders

Ryan Branski, PhD, Shirley Gherson, CCC-SLP

September 10, 2021



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


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. 

Related Courses

20Q: Putting Research into Practice: Application of Voice Science In the Therapy Room
Presented by Ryan Branski, PhD, Shirley Gherson, CCC-SLP


Ryan Branski, PhDShirley Gherson, CCC-SLP
Course: #9454Level: Advanced1 Hour
  'Basic overview of voice disorders in the various populations'   Read Reviews
This course will address real-life scenarios therapists often come across when providing therapy to patients with voice disorders. Best referral practices and risk factors related to occupation and personality will be described. Evidence-based treatment strategies and principles - including for specific populations (e.g., pediatric, geriatric, performers) - are discussed, with particular focus on application of research.

20Q: Induced Laryngeal Obstruction - An Overview for Speech-Language Pathologists
Presented by Robert Brinton Fujiki, PhD, CCC-SLP


Robert Brinton Fujiki, PhD, CCC-SLP
Course: #10761Level: Intermediate1 Hour
  'Seeing that there is more research needed on pt outcome measures'   Read Reviews
The nature of induced laryngeal obstruction, including comorbidities and causes, and the speech-language pathologist’s role in evaluation and treatment of this disorder are described in this course. Current diagnostic and treatment practices and research updates pertaining to the condition are discussed.

20Q: Pediatric Voice Disorders: Diagnostic and Treatment Approaches
Presented by Susan Baker Brehm, PhD, CCC-SLP, Barbara (Derickson) Weinrich, PhD, CCC-SLP, Lisa Nelson Kelchner, PhD, CCC-SLP, BCS-S


Susan Baker Brehm, PhD, CCC-SLPBarbara (Derickson) Weinrich, PhD, CCC-SLPLisa Nelson Kelchner, PhD, CCC-SLP, BCS-S
Course: #8972Level: Introductory1 Hour
  'Informative'   Read Reviews
This course provides the practicing speech-language pathologist with information on special considerations in the treatment of children with voice disorders. The various causes of voice disorders are discussed as well as the treatment of specific types of disorders.

20Q: Evaluation and Treatment of Speech/Resonance Disorders and Velopharyngeal Dysfunction
Presented by Ann W. Kummer, PhD, CCC-SLP


Ann W. Kummer, PhD, CCC-SLP
Course: #8729Level: Intermediate1 Hour
  'It progressed in a very good way and flowed well'   Read Reviews
Children with speech and resonance disorders (hypernasality, hyponasality, and cul-de-sac resonance) and/or nasal emission present challenges for speech-language pathologists (SLPs) in all settings. This article will help participants to recognize resonance disorders and the characteristics of velopharyngeal dysfunction, and provide appropriate management.

20Q: Beyond the Swallow - Tracheostomy Tube and Ventilator Management
Presented by George Barnes, MS, CCC-SLP


George Barnes, MS, CCC-SLP
Course: #10056Level: Intermediate1 Hour
  'Wow, I loved the detailed contained in the answers to each question!'   Read Reviews
This course addresses the various questions that may arise for the medical SLP involved in the care of patients with tracheostomy and/or mechanical ventilation. Topics include causes of respiratory failure, consequences of tracheostomy/ventilation, risk management related to intervention, and considerations for assessment and treatment of swallowing and communication, including the use of speaking valves.

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