If you have ever had a shoulder or knee injury, you are probably familiar with how important physical therapy is in treatment. Therapy can improve function, strengthen muscles, joints and ligaments and prevent further injuries. Physical therapist help runners go faster, help baseball players hit the ball farther, and help dancers leap higher. It should not be a surprise that voice therapists, known professionally as speech language pathologists (SLP), help singers sing better and professional voice users like teachers and lawyers speak more efficiently. 

The larynx, also known in non-medical terms as the “voice box,” is the organ in our throat that allows us to not only produce sound, but helps form vibrations we know as speech and sound. Air is produced within the lungs and pushed through the vocal folds, also known as vocal cords, which vibrate anywhere from 100-250 times a second (Hz). The sound produced by the vocal folds are then shaped by the throat, mouth, lips and even the nasal passages. Problems with speaking and singing can come from anywhere along this pathway. People who have difficulty breathing may find it difficult to speak due to weakness of the lungs. You may have noticed that when you have a cold, your voice sounds “nasally” and that your voice is hoarse, usually due to the swelling of the vocal folds from coughing. Vocal folds can be susceptible to trauma including screaming, yelling or overuse. This trauma to the vocal folds can lead to growths such as nodules, polyps and cysts. Vocal folds can often become weak as we age, known as vocal fold bowing, or may become paralyzed after a stroke or surgery, leading to a weak, hoarse voice. Voice therapy is an integral part of treatment for many of these difficulties as well as a way to prevent further problems in not only professional voice users, but for mothers who just want to sing their babies to sleep.