Authors: Kubert HL, Stepp CE, Zeitels SM, Gooey JE, Walsh MJ, Prakash SR, Hillman RE, Heaton JT
Title: Electromyographic control of a hands-free electrolarynx using neck strap muscles
Source: Journal of Communication Disorders 2009 42(3): 211-225
Year: 2009
Research Design: Single Case Design

Three individuals with total laryngectomy were studied for their ability to control a hands-free electrolarynx (EL) using neck surface electromyography (EMG) for on/off and pitch modulation. The laryngectomy surgery of participants was modified to preserve neck strap musculature for EMG-based EL control (EMG-EL), with muscles on one side maintaining natural innervation and those on the other side receiving a transferred recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN). EMG from each side of the neck controlled the EMG-EL across a day of unstructured practice followed by a day of formal training, including EMG biofeedback. Using either control source, participants spoke intelligibly and fluently with the EMG-EL before formal training. This good initial performance did not consistently improve across testing for either control source in terms of voice timing, speech intelligibility, fluency, and intonation of interrogative versus declarative sentences. Neck strap muscles have activation patterns capable of simple alaryngeal voice control without requiring RLN transfer.

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