Over one million children in the United States have voice disorders. These problems typically begin in childhood, and therefore can disrupt critical periods in development. Rita Patel, Ph. D., Kevin Donohue, Ph. D., and Harikrishnan Unnikrishnan study vocal fold motion in children. Vocal fold vibratory motion is needed for producing speech. They presented their paper “Analysis of high-speed digital phonoscopy pediatric images” at the XX Annual Pacific Voice conference on Optical Imaging, Therapeutics, and Advances Technology in Head and Neck Surgery and Otolaryngology held with the SPIE Photonics West Moscone Center in San Francisco, CA this January. They were presented with the Pacific Voice & Speech Foundation 2012 Award for Best Scientific Paper.
Vocal fold dysfunction limits the ability to speak and interact in society. Unfortunately, technical limitations have held back research into vocal fold motion, which is vital for measuring treatment outcomes. However, development in high-speed video systems created new research opportunities in vocal fold motion for more efficient diagnosis and treatment. Dr. Donohue pointed out that “This work is one of the first to describe and assess the processes for extracting quantitative information from high-speed video recordings of children.” They custom built a laser system to use alongside high-speed digital imaging to explore the relationship between the immature vocal system and the formation of vocal fold nodules.
Dr. Patel and Dr. Donohue hope that their research will help children suffering from vocal fold dysfunction. Dr. Patel added that “the goal or our research is to establish physiological biomarkers of unique vibratory features of vocal development with high speed digital imaging and to lay the foundation for development of biomechanical modeling and assessment tools” to detect at-risk children.