Stanford Head and Neck Center


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Rehabilitation Program

Speech and Voice Care

Our speech-language pathologists have extensive experience in rehabilitation of speech and voice after treatment for head and neck cancers. Collaboration with other professionals such as surgeons and maxillofacial prosthedontists allows for individualized care. We understand the importance of maintaining functional communication after treatment.  We offer comprehensive speech and voice care for all of our patients.

Our team has particular expertise in speech rehabilitation after removal of the voice box (total laryngectomy). We offer a full range of therapy options for patients who have had their voice box removed, including tracheoesophageal voice prostheses (TEP). Before your surgery you will meet with a speech-language pathologist to discuss the different communication options available after surgery and to decide what option is best for you.  We also offer pulmonary and olfactory rehabilitation after laryngectomy to help improve breathing and taste/smell.

For patients with concerns regarding their voice, we offer comprehensive evaluation and treatment.  To evaluate the vocal cords, a test called videostroboscopy is used to provide a magnified, slow-motion movie of the voice box during vibration. During the test, a small, angled telescope will be placed into your mouth or a flexible telescope may be placed through your nose. You will be asked to make specific sounds to make your vocal cords vibrate. These movies are recorded and can be reviewed later.  Our team has extensive experience working with patients with voice problems and collaborates closely with our Laryngology team when medical or surgical interventions are necessary.

What is dysphonia?

Dysphonia is a change in voice.  Dysphonia may present as hoarseness, rough voice, weak voice, changed pitch, or strained production of voice.  Surgery and radiation to the voice box may lead to dysphonia.  Voice treatment can be provided by the speech language pathologist in partnership with the laryngology team.

What is aphonia?

Aphonia refers to total loss of voice.  Aphonia is common after extensive surgery to the voice box or when the nerve to the voice box is damaged.  The speech language pathology team can explore strategies and techniques to restore communication for patients with aphonia.

What is dysarthria?

Dysarthria is a change in the ability to produce clear speech sounds.  Though often associated with stroke and other neurological diseases, surgery and radiation to the head and neck can cause problems with the speech muscles and/or the nerves that connect the muscles to the speech centers in the brain.  Dysarthria may be characterized by slurred speech, slowed speaking rate, and irregular speech.  The speech language pathologist will help to combat dysarthria through speech intervention.