Authors: Kissel I, Papeleu T, Verbeke J, Van Lierde K, Meerschman I, D'Haeseleer E
Title: Immediate effects of a semi-occluded water-resistance ventilation mask on vocal outcomes in women with dysphonia
Source: Journal of Communication Disorders 2023 103: Article ID: 106331
Year: 2023
Research Design: Randomised Controlled Trial
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Introduction: Semi-occluded vocal tract exercises (SOVTEs) are frequently used exercises in voice therapy. An important shortcoming to most SOVTEs is the inability to include continuous speech in these exercises. A variation of water-resistance therapy (WRT), during which a patient phonates through a resonance tube ending in water, was developed to include continuous speech: the semi-occluded water resistance ventilation mask (SOVM-WR). The current study investigated the immediate effects of this innovative technique on vocal outcomes of women with dysphonia. Methods: A pretest-posttest randomized controlled trial was performed. Twenty female participants were randomly assigned to the experimental SOVM-WR group or the WRT (control) group. A blinded multidimensional voice assessment was conducted before and after a 30-minute therapy session with the assigned technique. Results: No significant changes were found in acoustic or auditory-perceptual vocal outcomes in either of the groups, except for a significant increase in lowest frequency in both groups. Patient-reported outcomes (PROMs) showed significant improvements of vocal comfort, vocal effort, and voice quality in both groups, and participants indicated that they would use the techniques at home. Conclusions: The similar results of the SOVM-WR to WRT and promising PROMs confirm its suitability as an alternative to the latter technique. Potential reasons for a lack of improvement of objective and auditory-perceptual vocal outcomes are vocal fatigue, tube dimensions and immersion, and the small sample size. Large-scale and longitudinal research is needed to examine whether the SOVM-WR has a higher transfer to spontaneous speech than WRT after a full therapy program.

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