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Effectiveness of Breath-holding Pulling Exercise in Patients with Vocal Fold Atrophy

      Summary

      Objective

      In recent years, the incidence of vocal fold atrophy has increased among the elderly. Vocal function exercises (VFE) are performed in patients with age-related vocal fold atrophy; however, treatment could be challenging if the patient is unable to go to the hospital or in hospitals that do not have a speech pathologist. Breath-holding pulling exercises are simple and can be performed anywhere for the management of such patients. This study aimed to examine the effectiveness of breath-holding pulling exercises in patients with vocal fold atrophy.

      Study Design

      Retrospective study

      Methods

      With the hands folded in front of the chest, the patients were instructed to take a deep breath, pull their hands to the left and right, and then hold their breath for 5 seconds. The physician instructed the patients to do this 10 times each morning, afternoon, and evening. Speech function, acoustic analysis, pitch range, and Voice Handicap Index-10 (VHI-10) were evaluated and compared before and 4-8 weeks after treatment.

      Results

      Maximum phonation time (MPT), the primary endpoint, significantly improved after treatment from 14.2 ± 6.6 to 20.3 ± 9.3 seconds. Among the secondary endpoints, mean flow rate (207.5 ± 104.4 to 165.1 ± 66.5 mL/s), pitch range (22.9 ± 8.3 to 26.2 ± 8.1 semitones), VHI-10 (18.1 ± 7.2 to 12.5 ± 6.3 points) jitter (2.5±1.6 to 1.7±1.2%), and shimmer (5.9±3.5 to 4.8±3.3%) showed significant improvement.

      Conclusion

      Breath-holding pulling exercises were found to be effective in patients with vocal fold atrophy. These can be performed in hospitals with no speech pathologists, in patients who are unable to go to the hospital, and in patients who are hospitalized or unable to speak loudly. Moreover, as with conventional VFE, the training method achieves a high level of patient satisfaction.

      Key Words

      Abbreviations:

      F0 (fundamental frequency), MFR (mean flow rate), MPT (maximum phonation time), NHR (noise-to-harmonic ratio), SD (standard deviation), VFE (Vocal function exercises), VHI-10 (Voice Handicap Index-10), VT (voice therapy)
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