Voice Problems in Adults

Coline Samzun – Speech and Language Therapist, The Speech Centre

Voice problems are quite common and can occur at any stage in the lifespan, although some populations may be more at risk than others (e.g. older people, singers, teachers…). We talk about a voice “problem” when an individual expresses concern about having an abnormal voice that does not meet daily needs — even if others do not perceive it as different or deviant. If that is your case, you may want to think about seeing a Speech and Language Therapist for a consultation.

Ever since I started in Clinical Speech and Language Studies, I have always had an interest in voice. As an amateur singer myself, I decided to write my Thesis on voice care behaviours of contemporary music singers, and delve into the research in this area.  Since working at the Speech Centre, my voice caseload has seen huge demand, giving me the opportunity to see a diverse client population, and I accept referrals from ENT (Ear, Nose & Throat) consultants all around Dublin. I have worked with people with chronic or recurring hoarseness, frequent loss of voice, vocal fatigue, strain, weak voice or breathy voice, and many more symptoms that impacted the person’s quality of life. I also work with people with Muscle Tension Dysphonia (MTD), a condition that results in changes in vocal quality without any structural laryngeal pathology. People with MTD tend to have a very strained voice, and phonation can be quite painful / difficult in some cases. MTD is also often characterised by pain and tension in the neck region.

In 2019, I obtained additional certification in Laryngeal Manual Therapy (LMT), which is an ideal treatment for Muscle Tension Dysphonia, as it combines a hands-on approach with vocal exercises. There are not many speech therapists with this training in Ireland, particularly working in private practice, which is what led me to undertake the training.  LMT consists of a series of hands-on techniques (similar to massage, but highly targeted) used to change habituated muscle tension patterns in the perilaryngeal (neck) area. The combination of Laryngeal Manual Therapy and vocal exercises can achieve a quick breakthrough in the treatment of the voice disorder, which can then be sustained. I frequently use LMT with my clients, regardless of the presence of Muscle Tension Dysphonia.

My approach is a very holistic, client-centred one, from the initial assessment to checking in after therapy has ended. With the client, we look at every aspect of their life and identify factors that can hinder or help the problem. Then together we formulate specific goals that the client wants to work towards, and we aim to achieve these by using a combination of lifestyle changes, vocal hygiene, specific vocal exercises and hands-on therapy.

Coline Samzun – 085 2121250

Coline Samzun is based in our Mount Merrion branch in South Co. Dublin. However for those unable to travel, who fall within a vulnerable category, or who live too far from the clinic for face-to-face therapy to be practical, she also offers an online therapy service (teletherapy or telehealth).