If you are a professional voice user (i.e. you rely on your voice for your living), even a mild voice disorder or change in your voice quality can cause you to experience big challenges in your daily life, both personally and professionally. Professional voice users require daily, prolonged, and extensive voice usage for their career success and are therefore at an increased risk of developing voice disorders due to the nature of their work. The term “professional voice user” can include many different types of works, but some of the most common professions include: singers, actors, teachers/professors, voice teachers, attorneys, clergy, telemarketers, physicians, customer service representatives, salespeople, and more. For a professional voice user, a voice disorder can result in a temporary loss of income, loss of employment, and/or increased emotional stress and anxiety.
At Penn Medicine Becker ENT & Allergy, not only do we have a group of excellent physicians who understand your concerns, we also have a highly specialized speech-language pathologist who has extensive training in the particular areas of voice and singing voice disorders. Carly has worked with and rehabilitated hundreds of professional voice users from CEOs to teachers to Broadway performers. She not only has a background in treating and rehabilitating these professional voice users, she was one herself as a previous performer and went through a vocal injury with vocal rehab.
With this specialized team, Penn Medicine Becker ENT & Allergy has the unique ability to understand the urgency and magnitude of your voice problem and the way it can and likely is impacting your daily life. Our goal is to help you through your vocal recovery as seamlessly and efficiently as possible with as little impact on you emotionally and financially.
Common Professional Voice Injuries (not limited to:)
When to Seek out Evaluation from a Voice Team (Otolaryngologist and Voice Pathologist)
If you are experiencing a minor voice change that has lasted 2 or more weeks, you should seek out an evaluation with a multidisciplinary team regardless of your profession. However, if you are a professional voice user and rely on your voice daily for your income and success, you should seek out an evaluation with a voice team within two days if you experience sudden changes in any of the following areas:
- Sudden onset of hoarseness, raspiness, or breathiness in the speaking and/or singing
- Abrupt changes to voice sound quality in speaking and/or singing voice (breathy, raspy, pitch breaks or cracks)
- Significant changes to your vocal range (i.e. loss of high notes, loss of low notes, loss of mid range)
Minor voice changes may include:
- Increased warm up time
- Straining or increased effort when talking and/or singing
- Throat pain or discomfort with speaking and/or singing
- Decreased ability to control dynamics in singing voice
- Increased effort in specific styles of singing (i.e. belting, classical singing, etc)
- Increased vocal fatigue
*Note: It is absolutely crucial that you seek out care from a team who is well versed in care for professional voice users. Not all Ear Nose and Throat Doctors specialize in care for the professional voice users. When you get an exam of your voice, it should be a videostroboscopic examination which should be an exam performed with slow motion imaging, recorded on a screen, and played back for you and explained in detail. If you do not receive this level of care and evaluation, you should seek out a second opinion.
**Additionally, we recommend that if you are a professional voice user and rely on your voice for a living that you consider getting a baseline exam. This means that you come for a videostroboscopic examination when you are feeling 100% vocally and physically healthy. Not everyone’s vocal folds appear anatomically normal and that is okay. When you are feeling vocally normal, we can assess the structure and function of your vocal folds and know what your baseline looks like. Therefore, if you ever come upon a symptomatic problem in the future, you will know what your baseline is to compare to and ensure no findings are actually incidental. You can take a video of your stroboscopic video on a phone or smart device and have it with you indefinitely.
“When it comes to vocal health, Carly Schiff absolutely changed the game for me. Her vast knowledge, skillful care and warm bedside manner made my post-injury healing process a breeze. Don’t even think twice, call her up and get your voice stronger than you ever thought it could be.” – Nik Walker, Aaron Burr in Hamilton An American Musical on Broadway and US Tour.