Markers of Differential diagnosis of Muscle Tension Dysphonia and Spasmodic Dysphonia: The purpose of this study is to identify diagnostic markers to differentiate Adductor Spasmodic Dysphonia (ADSD) from muscle tension dysphonia (MTD). Muscle tension dysphonia is a voice disorder characterized by vocal hyperfunction and an excessive tension of the laryngeal musculature, caused by a diverse number of etiological factors, leading to an abnormal or disturbed vocal quality. Adductor spasmodic dysphonia (ADSD) is considered an action-induced, focal laryngeal dystonia wherein intermittent or continuous spasmodic hyperadduction of the true vocal folds can produce debilitating phonatory breaks and an effortful, strained-strangled voice quality. Traditional voice therapy has been proven to be effective with MTD, whereas injection of BOTOX into the vocal cords is the most successful treatment option for ADSD. Since the treatment options are radically different, it is essential to identify the disorders precisely and as early as possible. Establishing the most salient differential diagnostic markers could ensure timely and effective treatment.
Role of Cerebellum in Swallowing related functions: As a first step in investigating neural underpinnings of swallowing, a current project focusing on the pattern of impairments in individuals with a lesion to the cerebellum in comparison to pattern of dysphagia in individuals with lesions to other areas of the brain and healthy individuals is being developed. The project will be extended into a functional magnetic resonance imaging investigation focusing on region of interest analyses in healthy swallowers and individuals with cerebellar lesions.
Effects of training in perceptual assessment of voice: The project aims to understand the effect of type and duration of training to untrained listeners on improving inter-judge reliability in auditory-perceptual analysis.
Student projects (Ongoing):
Treatment of Trismus and oropharyngeal dysphagia in individuals with head and neck cancers: Master’s thesis project (Carley Prenshaw).
Efficacy of LSVT in treating oropharyngeal dysphagia in individuals with Parkinson’s disease: Master’s thesis project (Leigh Ann Pfeiffer)
Swallowing related Quality of life scales in individuals with head and neck cancers: Graduate research project (Alison McMillin and Carley Prenshaw)
Student projects (Completed):
Effects of instruction methods in the assessment of respiratory functions related to voice: Non-thesis graduate research project (Cara Jullian and Elizabeth McGee).
Respiratory and Phonatory Measures of Musical Theater Singers, Classical Singers, and Non-singers: Undergraduate honors project (Payton Burnette).