Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation for Voice Disorders

Sara Friedt


The use of neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) for voice disorders (dysphonia) alongside traditional therapy techniques has increasingly become an area of study in the profession of speech-language pathology. The research conducted in this area of study has steamed from the efficacy of NMES for swallowing disorders (dysphagia) as swallowing and speaking use relatively the same anatomy. Neuromuscular electrical stimulation uses a device that sends electrical impulses through cutaneous or subcutaneous electrodes to nerves causing muscles to contract. Electrical stimulation can increase strength and range of motion, offsetting effects of disuse and disease. This is of particular importance as this therapy technique can reduce the need for surgical or more invasive methodology for voice disorders such as vocal nodules, muscle tension dysphonia, and vocal paralysis as it aims to achieve strength during phonation, return nerve function, and regenerate efficiency to damaged muscles (El-Banna et. al, 2016).

At this current time, more research is warranted to formulate a protocol for the use of NMES for voice disorders as the current use of this treatment is based on the needs of the individual receiving it. More valid and reliable studies are needed to determine the use of NMES with traditional voice therapy protocols.