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Resonance Disorder

What is a Resonance Disorder?

Resonance is the way air that flows through the mouth and nose is shaped for speech. As you speak, your soft palate, which is the back part of the roof of your mouth, moves to open or close the opening between the mouth and the nose (the velopharyngeal valve). The airflow allows you to make certain sounds when you speak.

A resonance disorder occurs when an opening, inconsistent movement, or obstruction changes how the air flows.

What Causes a Resonance Disorder?

The most common cause is cleft palate. Other causes include neurological disorders, enlarged adenoids, or childhood apraxia (loss of ability) of speech.

Velopharyngeal Dysfunction (VPD) is a common resonance disorder due to incomplete or inconsistent closure of the opening between the mouth and nose.

The three main types of VPD are:

  • Incompetence: The valve does not close entirely due to a neurological problem, such as ALS or a stroke.
  • Insufficiency (VPI): The valve does not close entirely due to a structural defect.
  • Mislearning: The valve can work normally, but you may not have learned how to accurately make these sounds.

UR Medicine's Treatments for Resonance Disorder

Treatment will depend on the type and cause of the disorder. It may include speech therapy, lifestyle management, or surgery when necessary.

A laryngeal examination (an exam of the back of the throat) will be used to identify the cause of your disorder and determine the most appropriate course of treatment.

Speech Language Pathology treatment will begin with a personalized assessment of your voice, which may include:

  • Oral motor exam of the face and mouth
  • Voice quality testing
  • Collection of speech samples to look for patterns
  • Swallow testing to evaluate velopharyngeal function

If speech therapy is recommended, it may include:

  • Exercises to improve the precision and clarity of speech
  • Exercises to strengthen muscles around the face and mouth
  • Exercises to improve clarity and efficiency of voice

What Sets Us Apart?

At UR Medicine, we utilize a multidisciplinary approach to care for children and adults. We are exposed to more complex cases than most providers in the Rochester region, and each of our patients can be assured they are always in the hands of highly skilled experts.

Our speech pathologists are licensed by the New York State Department of Education and hold Certificates of Clinical Competence for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), in addition to postgraduate training and certifications in several clinical subspecialties. Our speech pathologists have specialty training in evaluating resonance disorders, and they can help determine if therapy improves speech clarity and sound quality.

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