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"Early diagnosis of voice problems is the key to prompt correction and prevention of future long-term and potentially disabling conditions."
Professional voice users, such as singers, lawyers, teachers and clergy, are particularly susceptible to voice problems, which may include hoarseness, vocal fatigue, voice breaks, restricted range, a need for prolonged warm-ups or extended post-performance recovery. Early diagnosis of voice problems is the key to prompt correction and prevention of future long-term and potentially disabling conditions.
Diagnosis is the first step, with a medical examination that includes stroboscopy, a technology during which not only is the image of the larynx (voice box) magnified but the vibration of the vocal folds is slowed to ensure a proper diagnosis.
Voice therapy may be the first (and only) course of treatment, addressing both the speaking and the singing voice through vocal function exercises, resonant voice therapy, laryngeal massage, respiratory retraining and vocal hygiene. Voice therapy is typically combined with medical management so that maximal improvement can occur within the shortest period of time. If medical intervention is necessary, it may include medication, office-based injections or laser treatment.
If surgery is indicated, microflap surgery, which involves the microscopic removal of abnormal tissue, often preserves the normal vibration of the vocal folds. Laser treatment can remove abnormal blood vessels that occur from recurrent micro-trauma of the vocal folds.
The interdisciplinary staff of the Institute for Voice and Swallowing Disorders provides medical and clinical services for children and adults with voice or swallowing complaints. What makes the Institute unique is that both the laryngologist and the voice rehabilitation specialists work in Phelps’ Donald R. Reed Speech and Hearing Center, collaborating daily to provide quality care as a team.
Craig H. Zalvan, MD, the medical director of the Institute for Voice and Swallowing Disorders at Phelps, is a board-certified otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat physician) who completed a specialty fellowship in laryngology, which focuses on voice and swallowing disorders. The Phelps voice specialists are speech-language pathologists with many years of clinical experience in the diagnosis and treatment of voice disorders. They are also trained singers who have performed opera, musical theater and contemporary music. For more information about diagnosis and treatment of voice problems, call the Institute for Voice and Swallowing Disorders at 914-366-3636.