VOICE PROBLEMS / VOCAL UNLOADING
Vocal Unloading is physiotherapy for the structures involved in voice production. These include muscles, cartilaginous structures and the myofascia around the larynx. Professional and amateur voice users can develop a maladaptive voice cycle which results in overuse, strain or incorrect use of some of these structures. Vocal Unloading is a treatment method directed at breaking this neuromuscular pattern to achieve efficient voice production and improved voice quality.
Treatment may be directed at any or all the structures involved in voice production. This is known as the Power, Source, Filter model of assessment and treatment as voice production involves the use of breath, mouth opening and posture as well as the vocal folds and muscles around the larynx. So, Vocal Unloading will assess breathing patterns, posture, cervical spine muscles and movement, and jaw function as well as the structures in the front of the neck.
Heads Up Physiotherapy works closely with Speech Pathologists and ENT specialists. Voice users are often referred by these professionals when diagnosed with problems such as Vocal Dysphonia, to address the neuromuscular component of their problem.
People whose work or hobbys involve significant voice use such as teachers, singers, barristers, call centre operators and child care workers are more prone to experience issues with their voice. They may feel that talking or singing is more effortful or their voice fatigues easily. The quality of their voice may change. Common issues treated by Vocal Unloading are;
Muscle Tension Dysphonia
Tongue Root Tension in singers
Globus Pharyngeus/ Throat pain
Orofacial pain or Dysfunction/ TMJ (jaw) problems
Many professional voice uses wish to maintain optimal laryngeal function and health by having regular treatment, much as an elite athlete seeks regular physiotherapy and massage to enable efficient and quality performance due to the high demands placed on their neuromuscular systems.