Voice Therapy for Hoarseness in Children
Voice therapy is usually the first treatment doctors recommend for children whose chronic hoarseness is caused by a vocal cord lesion—a bump beneath or on the surface of the vocal cords. If nodules or scars on the vocal cords have caused chronic hoarseness, voice therapy may be the only treatment needed.
Doctors may recommend voice therapy after surgery to remove other types of lesions, such as vocal cord cysts or polyps. Voice therapy is also used after surgery to treat vocal cord paralysis, a condition caused by damaged nerves in the larynx, or voice box. These procedures are often delayed until the child is old enough to adhere to a comprehensive voice therapy regimen.
Children receiving voice therapy at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone meet with a speech pathologist at Rusk Rehabilitation who specializes in voice disorders. For children as young as age two, our therapists offer a variety of exercises aimed at shifting vocal patterns and reducing the risk of further vocal cord injury.
Home-Based Program for Preschoolers
Most very young children with chronic hoarseness do not know how to use their voices efficiently. Our voice therapists can create a home-based program for increasing your child’s awareness of how to make sound and expanding your child’s repertoire of sounds—by varying volume, pitch, or vocal quality—with daily activities.
This includes using character voices, such as using a “spooky” voice when reading a scary book, or listening to the way other people talk. Parents are encouraged to set aside a few minutes each day to help their child with these activities.
A therapist meets with you, your child, and other family members or caregivers at Rusk Rehabilitation once or twice to demonstrate techniques that can be used at home. You may need a follow-up visit at the therapist’s office four to six months after therapy has begun to evaluate its effectiveness and to determine if your child needs additional treatment.
Therapy for Older Children
Voice therapy for school-age children and adolescents involves exercises that can help reduce pressure on the vocal cords.
First, the therapist meets with your child to explore ways of using the voice that relax the muscles, so that the sound feels smooth instead of rough, raspy, and forced. Then, the therapist demonstrates exercises your child can use to practice producing sound easily on a routine basis.
A child may visit the therapist once a week for up to eight sessions. The therapist helps your child to identify the most convenient time or place to practice these methods independently, such as during a bedtime routine or when walking home from school.