Authors: Lester-Smith RA, Miller CH, Cherney LR
Title: Behavioral Therapy for Tremor or Dystonia Affecting Voice in Speakers with Hyperkinetic Dysarthria: A Systematic Review
Source: Journal Of Voice 2023 37(4): 561-573
Year: 2023
Research Design: Systematic Review

INTRODUCTION: Hyperkinetic dysarthria is characterized by atypical involuntary movements within the speech mechanism that may affect the respiratory, laryngeal, pharyngeal-oral, or velopharyngeal-nasal subsystems and may alter speech production. Although articulatory impairments are commonly considered in hyperkinetic dysarthria, speakers with hyperkinetic dysarthria may also present with changes in voice quality, pitch, and loudness. In approximately 70% of speakers with hyperkinetic dysarthria, these voice alterations are associated with tremor or dystonia. The purpose of this systematic review was to investigate the association between behavioral therapy for tremor or dystonia affecting voice in speakers with hyperkinetic dysarthria and improvement in the functional, perceptual, acoustical, aerodynamic, or endoscopic characteristics of voice. METHOD: MEDLINE (PubMed), Embase, PsycINFO, and online databases were searched in August 2017, December 2018, and April 2020 for relevant studies. The searches provided 4,921 unique records, and six additional unique records were added from other sources. Twelve studies met the criteria for inclusion in the systematic review. Participants who received concurrent medical treatment were included in this review to ensure that the search was inclusive of all relevant studies and informative for typical clinical scenarios. RESULTS: The most commonly administered treatment ingredient was relaxation training, which was investigated in three of the four studies on tremor and three of the eight studies on dystonia. Of these six studies, only one used an experimental design and administered relaxation training as the only behavioral approach. This single-case experiment reported a significant reduction in participant ratings of tremor severity and interference with activities of daily living, although the speaking subscale reportedly did not improve and oral medications were administered concurrently. In two group studies that tested potential behavioral therapy targets, production of a low pitch improved acoustical measures for participants with essential tremor and improved auditory-perceptual judgments for participants with laryngeal dystonia. Behavioral therapy improved functional, acoustical, and aerodynamic outcomes in participants with laryngeal dystonia who were also receiving botulinum toxin injections in a randomized cross-over study and a non-randomized controlled study. Because one study employed easy onset and breathing exercises, while the other employed loud voice exercises, the mechanism of action for improvement in voice associated with behavioral therapy requires further investigation. CONCLUSION: This systematic review describes the current evidence for treatment of tremor and dystonia affecting voice in speakers with hyperkinetic dysarthria and highlights the need for future research on behavioral therapy for these disorders.

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