Will this HELP me? FAQ's
Over the last few years, I have received numerous
emails asking me questions about the Voice Aerobics™ products and
whether they would be of help. I have created this page to share with
you some of those questions and my responses, and in doing so, hope
that you gain a better understanding about how to best benefit from
your purchase. ~ Mary Spremulli, MA,
Voice Aerobics & Voice Therapy
Question: I have been seen by a voice
specialist. They have prescribed voice therapy. I have inflamed
muscles in my throat causing some compression on my vocal cords, and
that combined with laryngeal reflux. I am a singer and a minister. The
way it is affecting me is pain, vocal strain and lost vocal stamina. I
don't think my insurance is going to be very helpful in getting the
therapy. Also, the area I live in, I don't think I will be able to
find someone with knowledge with this particular issue. Do you think
this could be helped by your program?
Answer: Hello, I'm sorry to hear
about your voice problem. Like a lot of the people I work with,
you have various factors that are contributing to the problem,
and first, you need to manage the medical and environmental
factors, and then the voice treatment. Hopefully your Dr is
working on reducing the effect of reflux, hydration, and
self-monitoring for throat clearing and other bad habits is a
When you mention "strain, and loss of stamina," it suggests to
me that you are trying to push inflamed or weak vocal folds
beyond their limit. Have you thought of
using amplification for
your day to day work? One of the advantages is that it allows
you to be speaking in a very soft, confident voice, and not
pushing to try to get volume. It might go a long way to
your vocal fatigue.
As for your specific question regarding Voice Aerobics: although
I originally designed it for persons with voice changes from
Parkinson's disease, once available on a DVD, I have used the
program with many of my voice patients. In particular, parts 1
and 3 which focus on posture, breath work, and resonant voice
production. It can help to heighten your awareness about all of
those measures that are important for voice production. I would
NOT use the Voice Aerobics DVD as a substitute for voice
therapy, and encourage you to consider at least a few visits,
even if it means paying out of pocket. You sound motivated, and
a voice therapist should be able to provide you with vocal
function exercises that you can be doing on your own at home,
reducing the need for extended visits. I hope this helps.
Question: I was told by an
ENT that I needed to go to voice therapy for 4 sessions due to tight muscles
knotted together in my throat. I was told the sessions would help loosen up
muscles. Would the Voice aerobics DVD help me? Please do not try to just sell me
the DVD I need something that will help.
Answer: Hello, I can never tell an individual what will or won't help them
until I have met them. I will tell you that voice treatment is largely about
vocal hygiene education helping to reduce behaviors that are contributing to
your voice problem, and guiding you in some home practice.
Having said that, I do use Part 1 and Part 3 of my DVD with many of my patients
with functional voice problems, including muscle tension dysphonia. You should
begin treatment with a licensed speech pathologist/voice therapist. The DVD
would enable you to practice some of the breath work at home and heighten your
awareness regarding diaphragmatic breathing and resonant voice. It is not meant
to take the place of voice therapy/treatment.
My husband has had Parkinson's Disease for 14 years. His once
powerful voice is now a whisper. He is in an assisted living
home and no one can hear what he says. He also can no longer
sing. 5 years ago he had the big and loud training and for a
while I think it helped. Now he says he doesn't have the breath
to do it. Can your mike and amp help him? Do you wear the amp
around your neck? Can they be returned? Thanks
Answer: Hello, I am sorry to hear
that your husband has lost the power for his voice. As you know,
it is a common issue, and I witnessed my own father struggle
with a loud enough voice, and hence my desire to provide
alternatives. The voice amplifier will definitely help, if he
uses it. The microphone is very lightweight and has a swivel end
that can easily be moved away from one's mouth when drinking. If
your husband uses a wheelchair, it can easily be slipped over
the back using the attached belt clip. If he is still ambulatory
then it can be hooked to his pants. I have sold a number of
devices to people living in ALF or nursing facililities, and
they feel quite grateful to be able to communicate more easily
with staff. I encourage you to read over the
return policy should you
decide to not keep the device. I hope this is helpful.
Voice Amplifier Avoiding Feedback
I recently purchased some of your products for a relative of
mine with Parkinson's disease. We had some difficulty with
howling and squeaking when using the Voice Amplifier. We tried
it on the lowest setting as recommended, and also with the front
of the unit facing away from the microphone.
Please advise! As a Speech-Language Pathologist and as a
relative of someone with PD, I am thrilled to have found your
site! Thank you for the important work that you do.
Answer: I occasionally have
problems with feedback with my own patients, particularly those
with some postural problems and a tendency to drop their head,
and have tried a few things to improve performance and
eliminating squealing. If ambulatory, the best position seems to
be on the hip opposite to the microphone. When I am teaching, I
almost have it on the back of my hip and I can have it at the
loudest volume, put my head down, and have no feedback at all.
If in a wheelchair, placing on the back of the seat of the w/c
works great, and the volume setting can be quite high.
Voice Amplifier / Teacher
My speech doctor recommended your portable amplifier for use in
my classroom. I don't see any strap to hold it on, or any
headset. Do you sell the headset also, or does it come with the
amplifier. I need it by next Monday because school is starting.
Thank you for your time.
Answer: The amplifier has a belt
clip and also a neck strap. It comes packaged with a lightweight
headset microphone and also an auxiliary cord that can be used
with your computer or other electronic devices. Amplifiers ship
priority, so, if you order it in the next day or two, you should
have it before the start of school depending on where you live.
My husband has Parkinson’s and I can hardly hear his voice. Will
your amplifier help? I don’t want him to become dependent on
Answer: Amplification is a
wonderful assist for persons with weak or soft voice from any
condition, including Parkinson’s. I think of it in much the same
way as people use a cane or walker for ambulation, sometimes
only for long distances and sometimes they use a device all of
the time. An amplifier is nothing more than power for your
voice. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to participate in family
gatherings without having to repeat yourself? When I see a
person put on their amplifier, I don't view them as "dependent"
on a device; rather, I view them as desiring independence in
Voice Amplifier / Aerobics Instructor
I am a fitness instructor who has developed a strange voice
strain-type condition over the past year. I am under the care of
a laryngologist and a speech pathologist, and did have a
voice amplifier to try for
awhile. It seemed to help, but was clumsy, did not have a secure
system for wearing and would often fall off and batteries would
be rolling around on the floor, etc. In addition, the microphone
was always in the way when I tried to drink water, which is
often, while leading my exercise classes. But I have a very
limited budget, since I only work part-time. I don't care to
have the very latest technology with all the bells and whistles,
just something light-weight and effective, and energy efficient,
i.e. rechargeable. Do you think you could recommend a device
that would fit my needs? Thanks so much.
Answer: The amplifier that I sell
is lightweight, and secured with a belt clip. It does have a
long lasting re-chargeable battery, up to 15 hours when fully
I am a speech-language pathologist, so my intent in adding this
amplifier to my products was to provide something affordable,
but also with the quality of more expensive devices. I feel I
have achieved this. I wear the amplifier when I am teaching a
Voice Aerobics class to a group of about 25 seniors, and I am
moving around, including bending, etc. and I have no problem
with things staying in their place. The microphone has a swivel
end, so it can easily be shifted slightly when you are drinking
water, as I frequently do during class. I certainly may not be
moving as vigorously as you may be doing in an aerobics class,
but the belt clip is fairly tight and so secure once in place.
I think one of the challenges for some users with voice
problems, is that if you are not accustomed to using
amplification, you need to let the device give you the power for
your voice, and not continue to be super loud or straining. When
you are using the amplifier, you may not always have the same
impression your listeners have as to how loud your voice is, so,
you need to get their feedback. i.e. "am I loud enough?"
I hope this helps to answer your questions. It is always
difficult for me to tell someone in an email if I think the
device will meet their needs, so what I have tried to do is
share my own experience with use.
Speech and Parkinson's Disease
My husband has Parkinson’s disease. He has had speech therapy,
but his voice is still poor. Would he benefit from using your
Answer: It is difficult without
knowing or seeing your husband if my products would be of any
help. Vocal function exercises can be of help to most anyone
when the focus is on
breath support and general voice
strengthening, which is the focus of the Voice Aerobics™
Has your husband participated in formal therapy? If so, his
therapist might be the best person to advise him regarding
further voice practice or exercise. There are several
Voice Aerobics short clips on YouTube which show a small portion of the class, and it
may help you to view those and then judge for yourselves if the
products would be of benefit.
Please help! My mother is a Parkinson patient. The disease has
affected her voice, swallowing, walking and sight. I'm caring
for her at my home and after caring for her I hide and cry daily
because I missed not having that quality of life with her that I
had become accustomed to for so many years. She is 87yrs. old
and had the disease now for about four years. The loving active,
precious and caring mother that I once know is not there
anymore. I'm thankful that she is still with us but the
wonderful spirit is not there anymore.....Help me please!
I did take my Mom to a doctor (Neurology) here in the Land
O'Lakes, Fla. area where we live and am awaiting a follow up
appointment. As for myself, I'm trying to keep it together and
with prayers I will be fine. Can you please let me know of any
programs of your kind in my area that is not too expensive as
most of the programs through the hospital are too high for us
because my Mom does not have any insurance? However, let me know
of your programs in this area and cost that may help my Mom.
Answer: I am sorry to hear about
your mom's decline in function. It is indeed sad to see a parent
lose function and enjoyment in things no longer possible. Please
tell me how you think I may help. It sounds as if she is having
a variety of motor symptoms, and management of those symptoms
can be a precarious balance of medications, physician skill and
the individual patient response. Swallowing decline, of course,
poses a risk, and so should be addressed. Has your mom received
formal intervention? Have you considered talking with a
neuropsychologist familiar with Parkinson's who may help you
support your mom, while at the same time care for yourself?
Having just helped to rehabilitate my own mother post stroke, I
know the sadness and concern you feel when a parent's health is
declining. But, I also want you to know that there may be some
things to help speech and swallowing that do not cost a lot of
money. First, is to make sure that your mom is being
medicated appropriately. Second, is an assessment to see
what her specific issues are and then to develop a plan that she
is interested in and can perform at home.
The Parkinson's Research Foundation out of Sarasota is opening a
center in Sarasota this fall, called: Parkinson's Place.
They will have a variety of educational programs and weekly, all
at NO COST, available for persons with Parkinson's and their
care partners. I will be offering a Voice Aerobics™ class and
may also be available to offer some consultation thru the
center. I am going to forward your email address to the program
directors at PRF and ask for you to be added to their emails.
Swallowing and Parkinson's Disease
Question: During a hospitalization, my father who has
Parkinson’s developed swallowing problems and aspiration and a
feeding tube was placed. He is back home and recovering, and I
wonder if your products would help him regain his swallow
function. He hates having a feeding tube and finds it very
depressing. My father actually has been able to eat some soft
solids and drink liquids; however, the bulk of his nutrition is
still derived from high protein drinks given to him via the food
tube. We are working hard to make the transition for him to oral
feeding. It has been about 4 months since his aspiration
pneumonia episode, and we are still hopeful he will be able to
get off the feeding tube. Would it be possible to add on the
BREATHER to my order that I just placed yesterday?
Answer: Glad to hear you father is recovering from his illness.
Swallowing issues are certainly the demise of many a person with
Parkinson's. The problem is that many people have probably had
changes in swallowing going on for years, but have accommodated
the changes and only in the face of another, more serious
illness, do the swallowing problems create havoc.
With regards to your specific question: There is a growing body
of research that focuses on the timing of respiration
(breathing) and swallowing. In fact, a way to think of
aspiration is as a mis-timed swallow, allowing food or liquid to
enter into the airway. Many people with Parkinson's mis-time
their swallows, and aspirate. This problem may be in addition to
weakness or stiffness in the vocal folds, and weak cough effort
which fails to do the job of protecting the airway. So, to
answer your question, YES, I believe strengthening breathing
muscles and voice muscles may improve efficiency of the swallow.
The Voice Aerobics DVD can help your dad begin a general
Question: I have a question about the use of the
Breather which I hope you can help me with. I started with
resistance levels set at 1, and noted that even at this level, I
would occasionally get a "growling" noise at the back of my
throat during exhalation, accompanied by decreased force (and
shorter expiration times). I took this to mean that I was losing
air through my nose and sure enough, when I held my nose, the
noise stopped. When I increased to a resistance level of 2 or 3,
the growling noise was always there and I wonder if I am getting
any benefit from the training when it is always performed while
holding my nose? Do non-Parkinson's people have difficulty
maintaining pressure in the airway?
One more question is about the Songbirds CD. Is there a reason
why the exercises are mostly in the lower registers?
Answer: Regarding your "growl" on exhalation, resolved with holding
your nose, it sounds as if you may have a weak soft palate that
is allowing too much airflow to escape thru your nose. The
"growl" may be the rumbling of our palate think snore). There is
not a problem with pinching your nose, also make sure that you
are not puffing your cheeks. The higher resistance is requiring
a greater amount of intra oral pressure, and you apparently are
losing it. Have you ever seen a speech pathologist?
As for your question regarding the Songbirds CD - It is in the lower
register primarily because that's where my voice is most
natural. I actually recorded it with a friend, who is a tenor,
but in the final editing, the sound engineer faded his voice out
thinking it might be confusing for people to hear both voices.
Practice the exercises in the key that is most comfortable for
your voice. I don’t mind a little harmony:)
father is 75 years old. He has COPD, and now was recently diagnosed
with Parkinson's. Would the BREATHER® help him?
Answer: Both COPD and Parkinson's
Disease can cause some decline in the use of the respiratory muscles.
Studies evaluating the benefit of resistive devices for inspiratory
muscle training in patients with COPD found improved Quality of Life
scores following 6 weeks of training. Study participants typically
complete the training in no less than 15 minute sessions twice daily,
or 30 minutes/day, and this type of respiratory muscle endurance
training has proven effective for persons with COPD. When persons with
COPD perform pursed lip breathing this promotes a slower and deeper
breathing pattern both at rest and during exercise, while prolonging
exhalation. (Chest 2005;128;640-650) Since exhalation is the
phase of respiration we speak on, and also the phase of respiration
interrupted to swallow, training the expiratory muscles may benefit
both of these functions. The
both inspiratory and expiratory muscle strength training.
Question: Do you ship your DVDs and CDs to the UK and
if so what would the shipping cost be?
Answer: Yes, I do ship to the UK. Approximate cost: $6.15-$7.77 US,
depending on item and quantity. I would suggest you complete an
order via the shopping cart and you will obtain shipping rates
prior to check-out.
The Voice Aerobics™ Songbirds audio CD is now available as an
MP3 download through CD baby. So, you can save shipping costs,
order wherever you live in the world and practice wherever you
Visit CD Baby & download your
Voice Aerobics™ Songbirds MP3 now!
The information contained herein should not be
construed as medical advice and is not intended to replace the
medical advice of your physician or other licensed healthcare
provider in your state. You should continue to consult your
physician for matters regarding your health and prior to
beginning any new exercise program.