December 22, 2016
Voice Recovery Subject of SEC Faculty Travel Visit
By: Bryant Welbourne
SECU (Twitter: @TheSECU)
We are all likely to experience a raspy voice at some point in life. Whether it be from illness or screaming during an SEC sporting event, the ability to speak clearly will be difficult. While many of us can wait for our voices to return naturally, researchers at Auburn University and Vanderbilt University are studying several exercises designed to aid one group whose well-being depends on their vocal performance.
Dr. Mary Sandage, Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Disorders at Auburn University, and Dr. Jennifer Muckala, Senior Speech Pathologist at the Vanderbilt University Voice Center, recently took part in a SEC Faculty Travel Program visit to research the effects of vocal reset, a short vocal task used to quickly restore optimal voice function, and how it can help occupational voice professionals such as singers.
“The vocal load of a professional singer is more than what the public observes,” said Dr. Sandage. “Aside from the concert, singers spend the majority of the day doing interviews and meet and greets with fans and radio personalities.”
Dr. Sandage and Dr. Muckala have witnessed clinical success with vocal reset by giving test subjects various exercises to do throughout the day and even during performances, but both are now looking for empirical evidence to support their work.
“We’ve been conducting our research for a long time and singers have told us that the tasks are helpful, but we don’t have the physical evidence at this point,” said Dr. Sandage. “The visit allowed us to identify some physical measures we can do to support our work.”
Measures include the perceptual, acoustic and aerodynamic differences before and after vocal rest and comparing the efficacy of various vocal reset exercises. Dr. Sandage and Dr. Muckala will also identify which muscles they want to study through surface electromyography.
Dr. Sandage’s and Dr. Muckala’s visit was supported by the SEC Faculty Travel Program that is administered by SECU, the academic initiative of the Southeastern Conference. The SEC supports and promotes the academic endeavors of the students and faculty at its 14 member institutions.