This article provides a summary of some recent innovations in voice assessment expected to have an impact in the next 5–10 years on how patients with voice disorders are clinically managed by speech-language pathologists. Specific innovations discussed are in the areas of laryngeal imaging, ambulatory voice monitoring, and “big data” analysis using machine learning to produce new metrics for vocal health. Also discussed is the potential for using voice analysis to detect and monitor other health conditions.
Purpose Ambulatory voice biofeedback has the potential to significantly improve voice therapy effectiveness by targeting carryover of desired behaviors outside the therapy session (i.e., retention). This study applies motor learning concepts (reduced frequency and delayed, summary feedback) that demonstrate increased retention to ambulatory voice monitoring for training nurses to talk softer during work hours.
Method Forty-eight nurses with normal voices wore the Voice Health Monitor (Mehta, Zañartu, Feng, Cheyne, & Hillman, 2012) for 6 days: 3 baseline days, 1 biofeedback day, 1 short-term retention day, and 1 long-term retention day. Participants were block-randomized into 3 different biofeedback groups: 100%, 25%, and Summary. Performance was measured in terms of compliance time below a participant-specific vocal intensity threshold.
Results All participants exhibited a significant increase in compliance time (Cohen's d = 4.5) during biofeedback days compared with baseline days. The Summary feedback group exhibited statistically smaller performance reduction during both short-term (d = 1.14) and long-term (d = 1.04) retention days compared with the 100% feedback group.
Conclusions These findings suggest that modifications in feedback frequency and timing affect retention of a modified vocal behavior in daily life. Future work calls for studying the potential beneficial impact of ambulatory voice biofeedback in participants with behaviorally based voice disorders.
Purpose Ambulatory voice biofeedback (AVB) has the potential to significantly improve voice therapy effectiveness by targeting one of the most challenging aspects of rehabilitation: carryover of desired behaviors outside of the therapy session. Although initial evidence indicates that AVB can alter vocal behavior in daily life, retention of the new behavior after biofeedback has not been demonstrated. Motor learning studies repeatedly have shown retention-related benefits when reducing feedback frequency or providing summary statistics. Therefore, novel AVB settings that are based on these concepts are developed and implemented.
Method The underlying theoretical framework and resultant implementation of innovative AVB settings on a smartphone-based voice monitor are described. A clinical case study demonstrates the functionality of the new relative frequency feedback capabilities.
Results With new technical capabilities, 2 aspects of feedback are directly modifiable for AVB: relative frequency and summary feedback. Although reduced-frequency AVB was associated with improved carryover of a therapeutic vocal behavior (i.e., reduced vocal intensity) in a patient post-excision of vocal fold nodules, causation cannot be assumed.
Conclusions Timing and frequency of AVB schedules can be manipulated to empirically assess generalization of motor learning principles to vocal behavior modification and test the clinical effectiveness of AVB with various feedback schedules.
Purpose The purpose of this study was to evaluate the potential for estimating subglottal air pressure using a neck-surface accelerometer and to compare the accuracy of predicting subglottal air pressure relative to predicting acoustic sound pressure level (SPL).
Method Indirect estimates of subglottal pressure (Psg′) were obtained from 10 vocally healthy speakers during loud-to-soft repetitions of 3 different /p/–vowel gestures (/pa/, /pi/, /pu/) at 3 pitch levels in the modal register. Intraoral air pressure, neck-surface acceleration, and radiated acoustic pressure were recorded, and the root-mean-square amplitude of the acceleration signal was correlated with Psg′ and SPL.
Results The coefficient of determination between accelerometer level and Psg′ was high when data were pooled from all vowel and pitch contexts for each participant (r2 = .68–.93). These relationships were stronger than corresponding relationships between accelerometer level and SPL (r2 = .46–.81). The average 95% prediction interval for estimating Psg′ using accelerometer level was ±2.53 cm H2O, ranging from ±1.70 to ±3.74 cm H2O across participants.
Conclusions Accelerometer signal amplitude correlated more strongly with Psg′ than with SPL. Future work is warranted to investigate the robustness of the relationship in nonmodal voice qualities, individuals with voice disorders, and accelerometer-based ambulatory monitoring of subglottal pressure.
Monitoring subglottal neck-surface acceleration has received renewed attention due to the ability of low-profile accelerometers to confidentially and noninvasively track properties related to normal and disordered voice characteristics and behavior. This study investigated the ability of subglottal necksurface acceleration to yield vocal function measures traditionally derived from the acoustic voice signal and help guide the development of clinically functional accelerometer-based measures from a physiological perspective. Results are reported for 82 adult speakers with voice disorders and 52 adult speakers with normal voices who produced the sustained vowels /A/, /i/, and /u/ at a comfortable pitch and loudness during the simultaneous recording of radiated acoustic pressure and subglottal necksurface acceleration. As expected, timing-related measures of jitter exhibited the strongest correlation between acoustic and necksurface acceleration waveforms (r 0:99), whereas amplitudebased measures of shimmer correlated less strongly (r 0:74). Additionally, weaker correlations were exhibited by spectral measures of harmonics-to-noise ratio (r 0:69) and tilt (r 0:57), whereas the cepstral peak prominence correlated more strongly (r 0:90). These empirical relationships provide evidence to support the use of accelerometers as effective complements to acoustic recordings in the assessment and monitoring of vocal function in the laboratory, clinic, and during an individual’s daily activities.
Objectives: Clinical management of phonotraumatic vocal fold lesions (nodules, polyps) is based largely on assumptions that abnormalities in habitual levels of sound pressure level (SPL), fundamental frequency (f0), and/or amount of voice use play a major role in lesion development and chronic persistence. This study used ambulatory voice monitoring to evaluate if significant differences in voice use exist between patients with phonotraumatic lesions and normal matched controls.Methods: Subjects were 70 adult females: 35 with vocal fold nodules or polyps and 35 age-, sex-, and occupation-matched normal individuals. Weeklong summary statistics of voice use were computed from anterior neck surface acceleration recorded using a smartphone-based ambulatory voice monitor.Results: Paired t tests and Kolmogorov-Smirnov tests resulted in no statistically significant differences between patients and matched controls regarding average measures of SPL, f0, vocal dose measures, and voicing/voice rest periods. Paired t tests comparing f0 variability between the groups resulted in statistically significant differences with moderate effect sizes.Conclusions: Individuals with phonotraumatic lesions did not exhibit differences in average ambulatory measures of vocal behavior when compared with matched controls. More refined characterizations of underlying phonatory mechanisms and other potentially contributing causes are warranted to better understand risk factors associated with phonotraumatic lesions.
In, the third sentence of the second paragraph in Section III-D should have read as follows: “We first divided data using leave-one-out cross validation (LOOCV) to generate 12 subject subsets, where each subject subset consisted of randomly selected data across the 12 pairs. For each test subset, all windows from the 11 other subsets were then subdivided using fivefold cross validation (1/5th validation and 4/5th training in each fold).”
Purpose Ambulatory biofeedback has potential to improve carryover of newly established vocal motor behaviors into daily life outside of the clinic and warrants systematic research that is lacking in the literature. This proof-of-concept study was designed to establish an empirical basis for future work in this area by formally assessing whether ambulatory biofeedback reduces daily vocal intensity (performance) and the extent to which this change remains after biofeedback removal (retention). Method Six participants with normal voices wore the KayPENTAX Ambulatory Phonation Monitor for 3 baseline days followed by 4 days with biofeedback provided on odd days. Results Compared to baseline days, participants exhibited a statistically significant decrease in mean vocal intensity (4.4 dB) and an increase in compliance (16.8 percentage points) when biofeedback was provided above a participant-specific intensity threshold. After biofeedback removal, mean vocal intensity and compliance reverted back to baseline levels. Conclusions These findings suggest that although current ambulatory biofeedback approaches have potential to modify a vocal motor behavior, the modified behavior may not be retained after biofeedback removal. Future work calls for the testing of more innovative ambulatory biofeedback approaches on the basis of motor control and learning theories to improve retention of a desired vocal motor behavior.
Many common voice disorders are chronic or recurring conditions that are likely to result from inefficient and/or abusive patterns of vocal behavior, referred to as vocal hyperfunction. The clinical management of hyperfunctional voice disorders would be greatly enhanced by the ability to monitor and quantify detrimental vocal behaviors during an individualâ€™s activities of daily life. This paper provides an update on ongoing work that uses a miniature accelerometer on the neck surface below the larynx to collect a large set of ambulatory data on patients with hyperfunctional voice disorders (before and after treatment) and matched-control subjects. Three types of analysis approaches are being employed in an effort to identify the best set of measures for differentiating among hyperfunctional and normal patterns of vocal behavior: (1) ambulatory measures of voice use that include vocal dose and voice quality correlates, (2) aerodynamic measures based on glottal airflow estimates extracted from the accelerometer signal using subject-specific vocal system models, and (3) classification based on machine learning and pattern recognition approaches that have been used successfully in analyzing long-term recordings of other physiological signals. Preliminary results demonstrate the potential for ambulatory voice monitoring to improve the diagnosis and treatment of common hyperfunctional voice disorders.