Authors: Craig J, Tomlinson C, Stevens K, Kotagal K, Fornadley J, Jacobson B, Garrett CG, Francis DO
Title: Combining voice therapy and physical therapy: A novel approach to treating muscle tension dysphonia
Source: Journal of Communication Disorders 2015 58: 169-178
Year: 2015
Research Design: Non Randomised Controlled Trial
Rating Score: N/A
To be rated

Objective:This study investigated the role of a specialized physical therapy program for muscle tension dysphonia patients as an adjunct to standard of care voice therapy. Study Design: Retrospective Cohort Study Methods Adult MTD patients seen between 2007 and 2012 were identified from the clinical database. They were prescribed voice therapy and, if concomitant neck pain, adjunctive physical therapy. In a pragmatic observational cohort design, patients underwent one of four potential treatment approaches: voice therapy alone (VT), voice therapy and physical therapy (VT + PT), physical therapy alone (PT), or incomplete/no treatment. Voice handicap outcomes were compared between treatment approaches. Results: Of 153 patients meeting criteria (Median age 48 years, 68% female, and 30% had fibromyalgia, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, depression, and/or anxiety), there was a similar distribution of patients with moderate or severe pre-treatment VHI scores across treatment groups (VT 45.5%, VT + PT 43.8%, PT 50%, no treatment 59.1%; p = 0.45). Patients treated with VT alone had significantly greater median improvement in VHI than those not treated: 10-point vs. 2-point (p = 0.02). Interestingly, median VHI improvement in patients with baseline moderate-severe VHI scores was no different between VT (10), VT + PT (8) and PT alone (10; p = 0.99). Conclusions: Findings show voice therapy to be an effective approach to treating MTD. Importantly, other treatment modalities incorporating physical therapy had a similar, albeit not significant, improvement in VHI. This preliminary study suggests that physical therapy techniques may have a role in the treatment of a subset of MTD patients. Larger, comparative studies are needed to better characterize the role of physical therapy in this population.

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