About the Pediatric Voice Program
At the Pediatric Voice Program, we offer evaluation and treatment of complex voice problems and voice disorders in children and adolescents. If your child is at least 3 years of age and has a voice problem — such as vocal cord paralysis, polyps, cysts, nodules and scarring, chronic laryngitis, or a functional voice disorder — she may be a candidate for care through this program.
The experts at CHOP’s Voice Program understand the emotional impact voice problems can have on a child. These disorders can affect social development, scholastic performance and self-esteem. Our goal is to create a nurturing environment for children and their families prior to, during and even after each visit to our clinic.
We also offer a team approach to care, one that involves the expertise of dedicated pediatric otolaryngologists, advanced practice nurses, voice therapists and a voice research scientist.
You are also an important part of your child’s healthcare team and we work with you to formulate a treatment plan that’s most appropriate for your child and your family.
Is the Voice Program right for my child?
CHOP’s Voice Program specializes in treating serious and complex voice problems in children and adolescents, including:
- Vocal fold nodules
- Vocal fold paralysis
- Muscle tension dysphonia
- Vocal fold cysts, polyps and scarring
- Functional dysphonia
- Chronic laryngitis
- Laryngeal web
- Professional voice disorders
We usually see about 200 children each year and most have already been diagnosed with one of the conditions we treat by an ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT) at CHOP or elsewhere.
Your child’s ENT may refer him to the Voice Program if previous attempts at voice therapy were ineffective. You may also call us directly for a second opinion. Our staff will evaluate your child’s case, and if appropriate, we will schedule an appointment for an in-person evaluation.
Because your child’s vocal folds are still developing, we believe in finding nonsurgical solutions for voice issues whenever possible.
During your child’s initial evaluation, you will meet with voice therapists who will evaluate your child’s voice and try several forms of vocal exercises. If your child responds well, we may recommend a course of voice therapy to see if his condition improves.
We measure improvement using objective data. You will be asked to fill out a survey about your child’s quality of life. You can do this while waiting to be seen in the office. We use this survey, called a Pediatric Voice Handicap Index (pVHI), to monitor the progress of your child’s voice over time.
Our voice therapists will also collect acoustic information, which is a way to monitor certain parameters of your child’s voice over time. To do this, your child will play games on a computer with the voice therapist. Most children look forward to this part of the exam. It’s possible your child may also be asked to blow air into a mask so that pressure and flow through the vocal tract can be measured.
If no improvement is seen or your child isn’t a candidate for voice therapy, our team will discuss other options, including:
- Laryngeal electromyography (EMG)
- Vocal fold injections (aka injection laryngoplasty)
- Recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) reinnervation
We are also involved in researching and developing new methods for diagnosing and treating children with voice disorders. Our aim is to apply evidence-based research in our care whenever possible.