Speech-Language Pathology (Speech Therapy)
Speech-language pathology is the treatment of communication disorders including speech, language, and swallowing disorders. These include disorders such as vocal cord dysfuncion (VCD) or paradoxical vocal fold motion (PVFM), chronic cough, swallowing disorders or dysphagia, chronic hoarseness and other voice disorders.
Vocal Cord Dysfunction (VCD) or Paradoxical Vocal Fold Motion (PVFM) Management
VCD is the abnormal closure of the vocal cords when they should be open. Symptoms of VCD can mimic symptoms of asthma and VCD can also co-occur with asthma. Patients with both VCD and asthma, often find increased difficulty treating their asthma symptoms. The proper diagnosis of VCD is important. Contributing irritants for the upper airway such as chronic cough/throat clearing behavior, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)), laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR), and chronic post-nasal drainage must be managed. Speech Pathologists at National Jewish Health have experience helping the patient manage irritation to the upper airway: such as chronic cough and throat clearing behavior. Speech therapy is a very important part of the treatment for VCD. Special exercises increase the awareness of abdominal breathing and relax the throat muscles.
Videostroboscopy is a state-of-the-art technique that provides a magnified, slow-motion view of your vocal cords in action. It slows down the motion of the vocal folds in order to identify subtle changes in vibratory patterns that are diagnostically significant. It enables physicians to make an accurate diagnosis of conditions and diseases of the vocal cords. The examination is conducted by a speech-language pathologist (SLP) or physician who specializes in laryngeal disorders. To help the physician or SLP view the vocal cords, a small, angled telescope will be placed into your mouth or a flexible telescope may be placed through your nose. You will be asked to repeat several words and make specific sounds to make your vocal cords vibrate.
Chronic Cough Control
Speech Pathologists at National Jewish Health are trained in providing cough control techniques to help with chronic, dry coughing. Treatment provided for chronic cough can also involve evaluation of the patients swallowing, if swallowing difficulty is also present. Exercises to help prevent the vocal folds from slamming together and open the upper airway are also provided to eliminate the harsh and abusive nature of chronic cough for the vocal folds. Voice therapy may also be part of treatment for chronic cough if hoarseness is ongoing for over 2 weeks.
Swallowing Disorders or Dysphagia Evaluation
The Speech Pathology Department at National Jewish Health provides evaluation and treatment of swallowing disorders that may involve the mouth and/or the throat. When an individual has a swallowing problem it could put them at higher risk of getting food or liquids into their lungs. Food or liquid in the lungs or airway is also known as aspiration. Aspiration can contribute to chronic lung infections or to other lung diseases. The evaluation of the swallowing mechanism may involve use of fluoroscopy (moving x-ray) or endoscopy to assess the protection of the airway and to also find appropriate therapy methods to improve the swallow.
Voice Disorder Evaluation
The Speech Pathology Department at National Jewish Health can evaluate and treat voice disorders - including laryngectomy. Chronic hoarseness or a change in the voice for over 2 weeks is a concern. An individual may have a change in their voice quality possibly due to a neurological change or due to misuse of their voice. It is important for the individual to have a full evaluation by an Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) physician to determine the underlying cause of the individuals voice problems. The ENT diagnosis allows the Speech Pathologist to provide the appropriate voice treatment.
Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT®)
Our speech-language pathologists now provide LSVT®, which is the first effective method for treating voice and speech disorders in individuals with Parkinson's disease and other neurological disorders. Learn more.