Clinician and Patient Perception of a Voice Therapy Program Utilizing a Variably Occluded Face Mask: A Pilot Study
Objective: The purpose of this investigation was to assess clinician and patient feedback about voice therapy using a variably occluded face mask (VOFM) and to determine if voice therapy augmented via a VOFM would result in favorable changes in patient self-perceived handicap, as well as acoustic and aerodynamic measures.
Methods/Design: This pilot study used a prospective, pre-post single group design. Eleven patients with dysphonia due to primary muscle tension dysphonia (8) or benign vocal fold lesions (3) were recruited. Data collected included patient and clinician feedback of voice therapy using a VOFM, voice handicap index (VHI)-10, acoustic and aerodynamic measures. Data were collected before treatment (baseline) and 1-week post-therapy. Wilcoxon signed-rank tests were used to compare data pre- and post-therapy.
Results: Statistically significant improvement was observed for the VHI-10 with a median delta of −7. Clinician feedback generally reported that patients liked the VOFM, using the VOFM within the first two sessions of therapy, and within less than 10 min of use. All clinicians ranked the conversation level of the hierarchy as the most effective level. Three themes emerged from the Therapy Feedback Form: the VOFM was a (1) “Facilitator for Sensation,” (2) a “Physical Tool,” and that there was (3) “No Program Needed” to use the VOFM in voice therapy. There was a statistically significant improvement in cepstral peak prominence (p = 0.0329) and cepstral spectral index of dysphonia (p = 0.0164) in sustained vowels.
Discussion: This pilot study represents the first investigation into clinician and patient perceptions of using a VOFM. Reported measures via patient perception, as well as clinician perceptions, and some acoustic and aerodynamic measures showed that participants got better with VOFM voice therapy. Last, in general, both clinicians and patients liked utilizing a VOFM in voice therapy.
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