Osteopathic technique effective for people with work-related dysphonia

By Helen Albert

Vocal tract function can be substantially improved by the use of osteopathic myofascial techniques in people with work-related voice disorders, suggest study results.

Occupational dysphonia is characterized by "increased tension of the external laryngeal muscle which changes the position of the larynx and consequently disturbs the conditions of functioning of the vocal tract," explain Sławomir Marszałek (University School of Physical Education in Poznań, Poland) and colleagues.

To assess whether the use of osteopathic techniques involving various manipulations of the neck, larynx, and facial area produce good outcomes when added to standard voice therapy, Marszałek and team recruited 40 teachers (aged 48 years on average) with occupational dysphonia to take part in their study.

Voice dysfunction was measured according to assessment of maximum phonation time (MPT) and the Voice Handicap Index (VHI) score.

Writing in the International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health, the researchers report that use of the combined osteopathic and voice therapies resulted in significantly decreased tenderness in the muscles raising the larynx (cricothyroid ligament, sternocleidomastoid muscles, and pharyngeal constrictor muscles) and lowering the tonus (geniohyoid muscles, pharyngeal constrictor muscles, and sternocleidomastoid muscles).

Cricothyroid joint dysfunction during glissando and yawning was also significantly enhanced by the therapy, as was asymmetry of the thyrohyoid apparatus. In addition, head position and control of centre of gravity were substantially improved after the treatment.

VHI score was 10.0 after therapy compared with 13.7 beforehand, a statistically significant difference. The MPT also increased significantly after therapy from a mean of 10 seconds to 13.7 seconds after therapy.

These findings "confirm the necessity for cooperation of the osteopath with a phoniatrist and voice therapist in the treatment of occupational dysphonias," writes the team.

"This is in accordance with the current trend of an interdisciplinary approach to the therapy of these diseases taking into account also their psychosomatic aspects," they say.

"These observations will allow us to increase the effectiveness of rehabilitation of patients with occupational disorders of the voice organ."

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