Taking the Guesswork out of Voice Care
When we speak or sing, our vocal folds vibrate hundred of times every second. Injuries to these vocal folds are common among singers, voice actors, teachers, politicians and other people who depend on their voices for a living. In fact, voice disorders affect one in three adults in North America over their lifespans. Benign lesions, such as nodules, can grow on the vocal folds, making the tissue less pliable and soft for vibration. As a result, the voice cracks and becomes hoarse.
Doctors and therapists are currently unable to predict treatment outcomes for patients with voice disorders. Is surgery worth the risk or would voice therapy be a better option? What type of therapy should be used and how often? The delicate nature of the vocal folds makes these decisions even harder, as the wrong treatment can cause more harm than good. And choosing the right treatment early on can help avoid serious problems down the line
Dr. Nicole Li-Jessen, Canada Research Chair in Personalized Medicine of Voice Disorders, is trying to take the guesswork out of the equation by developing a computer model that will predict patients’ responses to various interventions. The idea is to permit clinicians to run clinical trials in a computer model at any point during the intervention.
Ultimately, the unique systems-biology approach developed by Li-Jessen and her research team will improve the precision of voice care to patients and make Canada a world leader in laryngology.