Our speech-language pathology staff features three voice therapists, each a trained singer who is specially educated in the newest and most effective techniques for identifying and treating voice disorders.
Many voice disorders call for rehabilitative therapy, which may include breathing exercises to reduce laryngeal tension and abnormal vocal fold movement and to relax the upper chest muscles, plus exercises to increase abdominal support and vocal projection.
We will tailor a voice therapy program—which typically lasts 6–8 weeks—to meet your specific needs. Afterward, we will reassess your vocal function and consider additional medical management if necessary.
The Institute for Voice and Swallowing Disorders offers a full spectrum of medical and surgical interventions, including:
- Suspension microlaryngology: removes polyps, cysts, scar tissue and nodules
- KTP Laser Vocal Fold Surgery: treats diseases of the vocal folds and larynx
- Tracheal/airway surgery: remedies the narrowing of the trachea, or windpipe, that can cause chronic shortness of breath, difficulty breathing and noisy breathing
- Injection laryngoplasty: rehabilitates paralyzed vocal folds
- Laryngeal botox injections: eliminate the muscle spasms that cause hoarseness, choppiness and tightness in the voice
- pH probes: evaluate reflux symptoms and can detect acid in the throat
We use cutting-edge technology to diagnose and treat swallowing disorders
Technically known as “dysphagia,” a swallowing disorder is the unsafe and inefficient movement of foods and/or liquids from the mouth to the stomach. Any swallowing disorder, no matter how it mild it may seem, requires attention. Undiagnosed or untreated swallowing problems can lead to inadequate nutrition or hydration, weight loss, and decreased quality of life. Some patients might accidentally aspirate, or breathe in, their food which can lead to aspiration pneumonia.
Swallowing disorders are highly treatable. The Institute for Voice and Swallowing Disorders at Phelps Hospital provides comprehensive diagnostic and therapeutic care to children and adults who experience swallowing conditions.
Swallowing disorders are common, affecting approximately 1 in 25 adults and 1 in 4 children in the United States each year.
How to recognize a swallowing disorder
Do you regularly have a lump in your throat? Do you gag or choke easily? Do you suffer from chronic hoarseness or coughing? After swallowing, does your voice sound wet and gurgling?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then you may have a swallowing disorder. These difficulties come in all forms, and symptoms can range from mild to severe. They can cause some people to cough or choke during or after eating. They can make “messy eaters” out of others, impeding their ability to keep food in their mouth or causing them to produce excessive saliva. In some with swallowing disorders, food remains in the mouth after an attempted swallow. Others experience discomfort or a sensation of food sticking in the throat during swallowing.
Certain neurological or conditions that lead to decreases in motor or sensory function may increase a person’s risk for a swallowing disorder. Such conditions may include:
Structural disorders or surgeries may also lead to swallowing problems. These include laryngectomies, head and neck tumors, and tracheotomies. Scleroderma, a motility disorder, can predispose someone to a swallowing disorder, along with obstructive conditions like Barrett’s esophagus or esophageal cancer. Radiation and chemotherapy for head and neck cancers may also impede swallowing.
Have an expert, comprehensive swallowing evaluation
Our team of experts will conduct a medical evaluation using the latest technology, including a Modified Barium Swallow (MBS) study or a Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing and Sensory Testing (FEES/ST).
We’ll help you manage your condition with personally tailored treatment plans
We can use the results of your evaluation to create a treatment plan designed specifically for you. This plan may include recommendations for changing the types of food you eat, the consistencies of those foods, and methods of eating.
You may also receive a prescription for swallowing therapy with one of our speech-language pathologists, which you will attend up to five times per week. Therapy may include practicing modified swallowing techniques, changing the amount of food and speed at which you eat, oral motor exercises designed to strengthen your lip, cheek and tongue muscles, or Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) to re-educate the muscles involved in swallowing.