In the realm of speech-language pathology, new light was shed on the familiar yet emergent problem of vocal fatigue. George L. Charpied, SLP and voice specialist at the University of Rochester Medical Center, suggested that SLPs more closely examine the nature of voice disorders in professional voice users. Charpied advocated for the term Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) which emphasizes the nature of the disorder under a medical model approach toward treatment of voice disorders.
What is RSI? According to the World Health Organization, Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) describes a set of physical symptoms affecting a large number of people who perform repetitive tasks over a prolonged period. Examples of professional voice users include teachers, coaches, receptionists, singers, and theatrical performers. Charpied hypothesized that RSI voice disorders to be an ongoing trend. Among other barriers to treatment, professional voice users will likely continue to perform work-related vocal functions. However, Charpied identified several components as necessary to yield positive outcomes from voice therapy, including education and training for vocal hygiene, voice conservation, breath support, and easy onset of phonation. Finally, Charpied emphasized the importance of hydration in maintaining a healthy voice. While the core components of therapy remain the same, Charpied’s medical model approach to treating voice disorders in professional voice users emphasizes the physical problem (i.e. RSI) associated with work functions (use of the voice) and may result in improved results of intervention.
3 Tips for a Healthy Voice
1) Hydration: Drink water, non-caffeinated, and/or non-alcoholic beverages. On average, men should consume approximately 13 cups of water and women about 9 cups of water daily.
2) Rest: Get 8 hours of sleep and rest your voice when possible.
3) Conserve: Consider voice-saving strategies (i.e. send an email, Skype, or text message when possible).