A few reflections from the weekend
This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Australian Voice Association “Healing the Voice” seminar in Brisbane. I had gone to Brisbane for Hanen training, and just in time, I saw that the AVA seminar was on the day after Hanen finished. As I work across paediatric language development and adult voice rehab, I felt that the stars had aligned pretty well. Definitely killing two birds with one stone.
Professional development is a real advantage in speech pathology, and this was no exception. It was a multidisciplinary day event which saw passionate professionals put forward their research and opinions. Some of the research I was familiar with, others not so much. Of particular interest was a presentation given by Physiotherapist Annie Strauch. As a musculoskeletal and sports physiotherapist, Annie is the Australian pioneer of vocal unloading with physiotherapy treatment of the professional voice and voice disorders. She works in collaboration with ENT’s, Speech pathologists and vocal coaches. Below are just a few (simplified) key points that I learned from the presentation and from subsequent article reviews:
- Environments or tasks that lead to strain (vocal load), pain (referred, muscular and joint) and tone (compensatory recruitment), can all alter the ability for neuromuscular learning and efficient voice production.
- Laryngeal muscles have the same ability as peripheral muscles and therefore have the capacity to learn a skill. Laryngeal muscle fibres exhibit physiological plasticity as do limb muscles, being subject to neural and hormonal modulation. (Hoh, 2005)
- Even after vocal surgery, poor muscle recruitment patterns can occur.
- When healing the voice, consider that maladaptive neuromuscular changes/patterns may occur quickly – hence it is necessary at times to “re-set the system”.
- Consider ‘central sensitisation’ and “What else is happening?” locally and distally.
It was great to see ongoing multidisciplinary input in voice therapy and I’m interested to see where the research progresses regarding vocal unloading and how physiotherapy can influence voice rehab. It really is a stunning time to be in rehabilitation.
If you have questions about ‘Healing the voice’, voice rehabilitation or other difficulties with speech, contact your local doctor who will arrange for you to see a speech pathologist in Sydney. Contact us today!