Vocal Health Assessment of Professional Performers Returning to the Stage After the COVID-19 Pandemic Shutdown
OBJECTIVES/HYPOTHESIS/OBJECTIVE:This study assessed the vocal health of performers returning to full-time performance after the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown and investigated how differences in voice usage, exposure to voice care professionals, and vocal pathology before and during the pandemic contributed to variability in self-perceived and instrumental vocal outcome measures. STUDY DESIGN/METHODS:This was a prospective, case-control observational study conducted at a single outpatient site. METHODS:Twenty-two patients, 11 cases and 11 controls, were enrolled for the study. All participants were full-time singing professionals prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cases were recruited from patients presenting to a tertiary care voice center for vocal or pharyngeal complaints. Controls were healthy volunteers recruited from the general population of professional singers in the surrounding metropolitan area. All participants provided responses to the Voice Handicap Index-10, Evaluation of Ability to Sing Easily, and Laryngopharyngeal Measure of Perceived Sensation validated questionnaires as well as a study survey with questions regarding vocal use and history prior to and during the pandemic. All participants underwent instrumental acoustic and videostroboscopic voice evaluations. RESULTS:Cases had poorer outcome measures overall and were more likely to report their voices were worse at study enrollment when compared to their prepandemic perception (P = 0.027). Cases tended to be older and less likely to have pursued alternative employment during the pandemic that involved increased speaking voice use (27% vs 55%), but these differences were not statistically significant. CONCLUSIONS:There was a variable response among performers to the prolonged hiatus from performing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those with poorer outcomes tended to be older and may have used their voice less during the pandemic. These findings are consistent with detraining periods in the exercise physiology literature and support the construct of treating vocal performers as vocal athletes.
Characterization of Primary Muscle Tension Dysphonia Using Acoustic and Aerodynamic Voice Metrics
OBJECTIVES/HYPOTHESIS/OBJECTIVE:The objectives of this study were to (1) identify optimal clusters of 15 standard acoustic and aerodynamic voice metrics recommended by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) to improve characterization of patients with primary muscle tension dysphonia (pMTD) and (2) identify combinations of these 15 metrics that could differentiate pMTD from other types of voice disorders. STUDY DESIGN/METHODS:Retrospective multiparametric METHODS: Random forest modeling, independent t-tests, logistic regression, and affinity propagation clustering were implemented on a retrospective dataset of 15 acoustic and aerodynamic metrics. RESULTS:Ten percent of patients seen at the New York University (NYU) Voice Center over two years met the study criteria for pMTD (92 out of 983 patients), with 65 patients with pMTD and 701 of non-pMTD patients with complete data across all 15 acoustic and aerodynamic voice metrics. PCA plots and affinity propagation clustering demonstrated substantial overlap between the two groups on these parameters. The highest ranked parameters by level of importance with random forest models-(1) mean airflow during voicing (L/sec), (2) mean SPL during voicing (dB), (3) mean peak air pressure (cmH2O), (4) highest F0 (Hz), and (5) CPP mean vowel (dB)-accounted for only 65% of variance. T-tests showed three of these parameters-(1) CPP mean vowel (dB), (2) highest F0 (Hz), and (3) mean peak air pressure (cmH2O)-were statistically significant; however, the log2-fold change for each parameter was minimal. CONCLUSION/CONCLUSIONS:Computational models and multivariate statistical testing on 15 acoustic and aerodynamic voice metrics were unable to adequately characterize pMTD and determine differences between the two groups (pMTD and non-pMTD). Further validation of these metrics is needed with voice elicitation tasks that target physiological challenges to the vocal system from baseline vocal acoustic and aerodynamic ouput. Future work should also place greater focus on validating metrics of physiological correlates (eg, neuromuscular processes, laryngeal-respiratory kinematics) across the vocal subsystems over traditional vocal output measures (eg, acoustics, aerodynamics) for patients with pMTD. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE/METHODS:II.
Longitudinal Effects of Base of Tongue Concurrent Chemoradiation Therapy in a Pre-Clinical Model
BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES/OBJECTIVE:Base of tongue (BOT) dysfunction is common following oropharyngeal concurrent chemoradiation therapy (CCRT). We present a clinically relevant animal model quantifying the effects of CCRT on tongue strength and elasticity over time. METHODS:Fifty-three male and 53 female Sprague-Dawley rats were randomized to control or experimental groups. Experimental animals received cisplatin, 5-fluorouracil, and 5 fractions of 7â€‰Gy directed to the BOT. Controls received no intervention. At 2â€‰weeks, 5â€‰months, or 10â€‰months after CCRT, animals underwent non-survival surgery to measure twitch and tetanic tongue strength, which were analyzed using multivariate linear mixed effects models. Tongue displacement, a surrogate for tongue elasticity, was also determined via stress-strain testing and analyzed via a multivariate linear mixed effects model. RESULTS:Reporting the combined results of both sexes, the estimated experimental group mean peak twitch forces became more divergent over time compared to controls, being 8.3% lower than controls at 2â€‰weeks post-CCRT, 15.7% lower at 5â€‰months, and 31.6% lower at 10â€‰months. Estimated experimental group mean peak tetanic forces followed a similar course and were 2.9% lower than controls at 2â€‰weeks post CCRT, 20.7% lower at 5â€‰months, and 27.0% lower at 10â€‰months. Stress-strain testing did not find CCRT to have a significant effect on tongue displacement across experimental timepoints. CONCLUSIONS:This study demonstrates an increasing difference in tongue strength over time between controls and animals exposed to CCRT. Tongue elasticity was not significantly affected by CCRT, suggesting that changes in strength may not be caused by fibrosis. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE/METHODS:NA Laryngoscope, 2022.
Presumptive Diagnosis in Tele-Health Laryngology: A Multi-Center Observational Study
OBJECTIVES/UNASSIGNED:Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, outpatient visits were adapted for the virtual setting, forcing laryngologists to presume certain diagnoses without the aid of laryngoscopy, solely based on history and the limited physical exam available via video visit. This study aims to examine the accuracy of presumptive diagnoses made via telemedicine, compared to subsequent in-person follow up, where endoscopic examination could confirm or refute suspected diagnoses. METHODS/UNASSIGNED:A retrospective chart review was conducted of 38 patients evaluated for voice-related issues at NYU Langone Health and the University of California-San Francisco. Presumptive diagnoses at the initial telemedicine encounter were noted, along with diagnostic cues used for clinical reasoning and recommended treatment plans. These presumptive diagnoses were compared to diagnoses and plans established following laryngoscopy at follow-up in-person visits. RESULTS/UNASSIGNED:After laryngoscopy at the first in-person visit, 38% of presumptive diagnoses changed, as did 37% of treatment plans. The accuracy varied among conditions. Muscle tension dysphonia and Reinke's edema were accurately diagnosed without laryngoscopy, but other conditions, including vocal fold paralysis and subglottic stenosis, were not initially suspected, relying on laryngoscopy for diagnosis. CONCLUSIONS/UNASSIGNED:While some laryngologic conditions may be reasonably identified without in-person examination, laryngoscopy remains central to definitive diagnosis and treatment. Telemedicine can increase access to care, but it may provide more utility as a screening tool, triaging which patients should present more urgently for in-person laryngoscopy. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE/UNASSIGNED:4.
Effects of Participation in a Structured Choral Program on the Voice of Older Adults
OBJECTIVES/OBJECTIVE:To examine the effects of short-term and long-term engagement with structured choral singing on vocal function and quality of life outcomes in older adults. METHODS:Two groups of older adult singers over 55 years, one with fewer than 4 semesters and one with 4 or more semesters singing in a chorale, were assessed at 3 time points: baseline, after 1 semester of singing, and either after 1 semester of rest or after 1 semester of rest and 1 semester more of singing. Acoustic and aerodynamic measures, voice-related quality of life ratings, and measures of singing accuracy were obtained. Percent change between time points were calculated to determine three outcomes: improvement, lack of change, or worsening of measures across time. RESULTS:Long-term average spectrum (LTAS), difference in first and second harmonics and estimated subglottic pressure were significantly more likely to improve after a semester of singing with less experience singers, and LTAS continued to improve after a semester of rest. Flow was significantly more likely to improve with more singing experience after a semester of singing. Aerodynamic variables consistently changed in more experienced singers and improvement was maintained over the three visits. No significant changes occurred over time for singing accuracy for any singer type. Self-perception of singing voice continued to improve with more singing experience. CONCLUSIONS:This study demonstrated that for older adults in good health, regular singing provided a mechanism for maintaining speaking voice over time.
Closed-loop network of skin-interfaced wireless devices for quantifying vocal fatigue and providing user feedback
Vocal fatigue is a measurable form of performance fatigue resulting from overuse of the voice and is characterized by negative vocal adaptation. Vocal dose refers to cumulative exposure of the vocal fold tissue to vibration. Professionals with high vocal demands, such as singers and teachers, are especially prone to vocal fatigue. Failure to adjust habits can lead to compensatory lapses in vocal technique and an increased risk of vocal fold injury. Quantifying and recording vocal dose to inform individuals about potential overuse is an important step toward mitigating vocal fatigue. Previous work establishes vocal dosimetry methods, that is, processes to quantify vocal fold vibration dose but with bulky, wired devices that are not amenable to continuous use during natural daily activities; these previously reported systems also provide limited mechanisms for real-time user feedback. This study introduces a soft, wireless, skin-conformal technology that gently mounts on the upper chest to capture vibratory responses associated with vocalization in a manner that is immune to ambient noises. Pairing with a separate, wirelessly linked device supports haptic feedback to the user based on quantitative thresholds in vocal usage. A machine learning-based approach enables precise vocal dosimetry from the recorded data, to support personalized, real-time quantitation and feedback. These systems have strong potential to guide healthy behaviors in vocal use.
Perilaryngeal-Cranial Functional Muscle Network Differentiates Vocal Tasks: A Multi-Channel sEMG Approach
OBJECTIVE:Objective evaluation of physiological responses using non-invasive methods for the assessment of vocal performance and voice disorders has attracted great interest. This paper, for the first time, aims to implement and evaluate perilaryngeal-cranial functional muscle networks. The study investigates the variations in topographical characteristics of the network and the corresponding ability to differentiate vocal tasks. METHOD/METHODS:Twelve surface electromyography (sEMG) signals were collected bilaterally from six perilaryngeal and cranial muscles. Data were collected from eight subjects (four females) without a known history of voice disorders. The proposed muscle network is composed of pairwise coherence between sEMG recordings. The network metrics include (a) network degree and (b) weighted clustering coefficient (WCC). RESULTS:|=0.12) in differentiating the vocal tasks. CONCLUSION/CONCLUSIONS:Perilaryngeal-cranial functional muscle network was proposed in this paper. The study showed that the functional muscle network could robustly differentiate the vocal tasks while the classic assessment of muscle activation fails to differentiate. SIGNIFICANCE/CONCLUSIONS:For the first time, we demonstrate the power of a perilaryngeal-cranial muscle network as a neurophysiological window to vocal performance. In addition, the study also discovers tasks with the highest network involvement, which may be utilized in the future to monitor voice disorders and rehabilitation.
Flow Patterns and Particle Residence Times in the Oral Cavity during Inhaled Drug Delivery
Pulmonary drug delivery aims to deliver particles deep into the lungs, bypassing the mouth-throat airway geometry. However, micron particles under high flow rates are susceptible to inertial impaction on anatomical sites that serve as a defense system to filter and prevent foreign particles from entering the lungs. The aim of this study was to understand particle aerodynamics and its possible deposition in the mouth-throat airway that inhibits pulmonary drug delivery. In this study, we present an analysis of the aerodynamics of inhaled particles inside a patient-specific mouth-throat model generated from MRI scans. Computational Fluid Dynamics with a Discrete Phase Model for tracking particles was used to characterize the airflow patterns for a constant inhalation flow rate of 30 L/min. Monodisperse particles with diameters of 7 Î¼m to 26 Î¼m were introduced to the domain within a 3 cm-diameter sphere in front of the oral cavity. The main outcomes of this study showed that the time taken for particle deposition to occur was 0.5 s; a narrow stream of particles (medially and superiorly) were transported by the flow field; larger particles > 20 Î¼m deposited onto the oropharnyx, while smaller particles < 12 Î¼m were more disperse throughout the oral cavity and navigated the curved geometry and laryngeal jet to escape through the tracheal outlet. It was concluded that at a flow rate of 30 L/min the particle diameters depositing on the larynx and trachea in this specific patient model are likely to be in the range of 7 Î¼m to 16 Î¼m. Particles larger than 16 Î¼m primarily deposited on the oropharynx.
Re-Training of Convolutional Neural Networks for Glottis Segmentation in Endoscopic High-Speed Videos
Endoscopic high-speed video (HSV) systems for visualization and assessment of vocal fold dynamics in the larynx are diverse and technically advancing. To consider resulting "concepts shifts" for neural network (NN)-based image processing, re-training of already trained and used NNs is necessary to allow for sufficiently accurate image processing for new recording modalities. We propose and discuss several re-training approaches for convolutional neural networks (CNN) being used for HSV image segmentation. Our baseline CNN was trained on the BAGLS data set (58,750 images). The new BAGLS-RT data set consists of additional 21,050 images from previously unused HSV systems, light sources, and different spatial resolutions. Results showed that increasing data diversity by means of preprocessing already improves the segmentation accuracy (mIoU + 6.35%). Subsequent re-training further increases segmentation performance (mIoU + 2.81%). For re-training, finetuning with dynamic knowledge distillation showed the most promising results. Data variety for training and additional re-training is a helpful tool to boost HSV image segmentation quality. However, when performing re-training, the phenomenon of catastrophic forgetting should be kept in mind, i.e., adaption to new data while forgetting already learned knowledge.
Feasibility and Preliminary Efficacy of Two Technology-assisted Vocal Interventions for Older Adults Living in a Residential Facility
OBJECTIVES/HYPOTHESIS/OBJECTIVE:An increasing number of older adults are seeking behavioral voice therapy to manage their voice problems. Poor adherence to voice therapy is a known problem across all treatment-seeking populations. Given age-related physical and cognitive impairments and multiple chronic conditions, older adults are more susceptible to low adherence to behavioral therapies. The purpose of this study was to test the feasibility of an at-home, vocal training intervention for older adults without a known voice disorder living in a senior living community, as well as compare the effects of two modes of mobile health (mHealth) technology-assisted vocal training targeting vocal function and adherence in older adults. STUDY DESIGN/METHODS:Cohort Study (Prospective Observational Study). METHODS:Twenty-three individuals were recruited from a single residential retirement community and randomly allocated into two experimental groups. Both groups were asked to practice the Vocal Function Exercises with increasing frequency over an 8-week period. Tablets with instructions for performing the exercises were provided to all participants. The feedback group's tablets also contained an application providing real-time feedback on pitch, loudness, and duration. Acoustic and aerodynamic measures of vocal function and cognitive measures were obtained before and after the intervention. Self-reported measures of practice frequency, perceived vocal progress and changes, and motivation were obtained weekly. RESULTS:The feedback control group adhered to the requested practice sessions more in the latter half of the intervention (weeks 5 and 8). Vocal function measures remained stable. Overall, a pattern reflecting self-reported vocal progress and a general improvement in working memory and global cognitive functioning was observed in the feedback group. CONCLUSIONS:This study demonstrated that an 8-week mHealth intervention is viable to facilitate vocal practice in older adults. Although vocal ability did not improve with training, results indicated that vocal performance remained stable and age-related vocal changes did not progress. Future research on implementation of mHealth applications in conjunction with behavioral voice therapy is warranted to assess adherence and improvements in vocal function in individuals with age-related voice problems.