Dysphonia is a long-term voice problem that makes it difficult to talk. It is also called Muscle Tension Dysphonia or Laryngeal Dystonia because it now has been classified within a larger group of task-specific neurological disorders. This means that when a person initiates the specific muscle movement that they would like to do, a breakdown in the motor commands within the brain occurs and creates problems with the movement. In Dysphonia this results in significant muscle tension when speech is produced.
To be able to produce clear, healthy sounding speech the vocal folds should be loose and elastic, like a rubber band, to be able to be shaped shorter and longer for different sounds. When the vocal folds are injured or impaired it makes it harder for them to vibrate and can affect your voice. Usually Spasmodic Dysphonia causes closure of the vocal folds when a person initiates speech causing the tightening of the vocal folds and resulting speech sound disorder.
Dysphonia is a chronic problem of the vocal folds in which the have much too much vocal tension and the rubber band like structures are held to tense for healthy sounding speech. The vocal folds spasm or tighten when a person tries to speak. Sometimes speech may not even be possible because the tension in the vocal folds is so great. The voice of the person with Dysphonia my sound shaky or jittery, or hoarse and harsh.
How Can Brain-based Therapies Help Dysphonia?
Neurofeedback Therapy, a state-of-the-art brain-based therapy, has been proven to help change the brain pattern that causes vocal fold tension thus reducing symptoms. Check out the Science page for the studies that show how it works and why. qEEG Brain Mapping is used to identify the brain patterns a person’s is using, thus it can be visualized if overactivity of the area that controls motor commands for vocal fold tension is present and potentially causing symptoms of Dysphonia. Once the brain pattern is seen, then it can be changed, improved, so that the vocal folds can perform better alleviating symptoms.
What is Functional Dysphonia?
Functional Dysphonia, also called Functional Voice Problems, occurs when a person has a voice problem without any physical, structural problems within the vocal folds or musculature. There is no organic problem with the vocal mechanism. In these cases a qEEG Brain Map can be pivotal in providing information on the underlying brain patterns that might be affecting the problems with the use of the person’s voice.
What Causes Dysphonia?
Dysphonia has been identified as having its own EEG brain pattern that shows differences in brain functioning for those who suffer from Dysphonia. See the Science page for the specific studies. Spasmodic Dysphonia has long been associated with brain patterns that cause chronic stress and anxiety as well. There are different types of Dystonia that are caused by different areas of the brain being impacted. Spasmodic Dysphonia is a result of the brain areas that cause muscles of the larynx to be tense and contracted and sometimes tight and resisting movement.
Symptoms of Dysphonia.
- Dysphonia can start slow and get worse over time.
- Women suffer from Dysphonia more than men do.
- Fatigue and stress can make the voice problem worse.
- Voice problems may go away when you sing or laugh.
- Voice problems may come and go.
- Typical onset of Dysphonia is between ages 30 and 50 years.
- Your vocal folds look good and function well but voice problems persist.
How Can Dysphonia Be Diagnosed?
A speech language pathologist can assess your voice for Dysphonia including an oral motor exam to assess functioning of the muscles. An Otolaryngologist will visualize your vocal folds see if there are any structural problems or if they look healthy. qEEG Brain Mapping is used to identify brain patterns that are associated with Dysphonia.
Can Dysphonia Be Cured?
Although currently there is no cure for Dysphonia, in most cases therapy can significantly improve speech production and vocal fold relaxation for improved quality of life.
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