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UR Medicine


Aging Voice

The anatomy and physiology of voice production suffer from age related changes just like the rest of our body. Some effects of age on our voice can included vocal fold (vocal cord) atrophy which can cause the vocal folds to lose bulk and / or tone.  As your vocal quality depends upon symmetrical vibration of those vocal folds, loss of bulk and tone can create unequal or asymmetrical vibration of the vocal folds and cause roughness and instability.  If the vocal folds lose tone, they are often unable to achieve complete closure during phonation which allows air to escape and our voice can sound breathy.  Another area of again that affects the voice is ability to produce good breath support from our lungs.  Diseases of lungs as well as deconditioning or atrophy of muscles of respiration can make our voices weak and quieter.   

Speech-Language Pathology Evaluation & Treatment

Our Speech-Language Pathologists, who have specialty training and expertise voice disorders, assessment and treatment, will complete a personalized assessment of your voice. Assessment will include:

  • A detailed history collection
  • Laryngeal Function Studies consisting of computerized voice analysis and airway measures
  • Behavioral voice and communication analysis
  • Stimuability trials

Prior to the initiation of voice therapy, a laryngeal examination must be completed in order to identify the etiology of your individual voice problem and determine the most appropriate course of treatment.

If you are recommended for voice therapy, your therapy program may include some or all of the following techniques:

  • Strengthen and re-balance laryngeal and pharyngeal musculature, including the muscles, joints and ligaments used in voice production
  • Learn techniques for producing a healthy voice while eliminating overuse or abuse
  • Exercise laryngeal muscles
  • Create a healthy motor pattern and balance pressures to achieve the ideal configuration of your vocal folds for voice use
  • Learn suppression and breathing strategies to minimize coughing or throat clearing (if this is a problem for you)

Community support

The University of Rochester offers a community outreach group for voices of all ages.