Evaluation of voice acoustic parameters related to the vocal-loading test in professionally active teachers with dysphonia

Ewa Niebudek-Bogusz, Piotr Kotyło, Mariola Sliwińska-Kowalska
International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health 2007, 20 (1): 25-30

INTRODUCTION: Teachers are at risk of developing voice disorders. A clinical battery of vocal function tests should include non-invasive and accurate measurements. The quantitative methods (e.g., voice acoustic analysis) make it possible to objectively evaluate voice efficiency and outcomes of dysphonia treatment.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: To identify possible signs of vocal fatigue, acoustic waveform perturbations during sustained phonation were measured before and after the vocal-loading test in 51 professionally active female teachers with functional voice disorders, using IRIS software. All the participants were also subjected to laryngological/phoniatric examination involving videostroboscopy combined with self-estimation by voice handicap index (VHI)-based scale.

RESULTS: The phoniatric examination revealed glottal insufficiency with bowed vocal folds in 35.2%, soft vocal nodules in 31.4%, and hyperfunctional dysphonia with a tendency towards vestibular phonation in 19.6% of the patients. In the VHI scale, 66% of the female teachers estimated their own voice problems as moderate disability. An acoustic analysis performed after the vocal-loading test showed an increased rate of abnormal frequency perturbation parameters (pitch perturbation quotient (Jitter), relative average perturbation (RAP), and pitch period perturbation quotient (PPQ)) compared to the pre-test outcomes. The same was true of pitch-intensity contour of vowel /a:/, an indication of voice instability during sustained phonation.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: The recorded impairments of voice acoustic parameters related to vocal loading provide further evidence of dysphonia. The voice acoustic analysis performed before and after the vocal-loading test can significantly contribute to objective voice examinations useful in diagnosis of dysphonia among teachers.

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