Breathing problems can accompany a multitude of conditions including asthma, laryngeal malformations, coughing, narrowing of the windpipe, stress, anxiety, intense exercise, certain smells or illness. Many times a condition that presents like asthma goes misdiagnosed for far too long, with inhalers that don’t work. When the inhalers do not improve, it is often misdiagnosed again as stress and anxiety and treated with medications. BUT, the patients continue to suffer…
What is VCD?
Paradoxical Vocal Fold Motion, or Vocal Cord Dysfunction (VCD), is a disorder of the vocal cords that causes episodes where patients can’t get air in, or out, or both. Behavioral management is highly effective in these patients when received from speech-language pathologists (Vertigan & Gibson 2016). Patients with VCD may often also be athletes, have a type-a personality and can also have asthma that triggers the episodes of VCD. One big difference in other respiratory conditions and VCD is that VCD will not happen during sleep AND if a patient loses consciousness after an episode, they will begin to breathe normally again.
Hina Talib, MD, who specializes in treating teens and adolescents says the prevalence of VCD in children and adolescents admitted to hospital for bronchial asthma may be as high as 14 % and in as many as 5% of Olympic athletes (Kenn & Hess 2008) She also states that it can be seen in all ages, and that in children it can emerge around 14 or 15. In children under 18, 85% diagnosed with VCD are girls.
How Does Speech Pathology Help?
Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) an help by completing videostroboscopy to visualize the larynx. This can be done with a rigid or flexible scope. This benefits the patient a great deal because they can begin to better understand the larynx and its inner-workings, for a better treatment outcome. SLPs can help by: 1) teaching patients how to open and close their vocal cords, 2) teaching rescue breathing techniques to help keep the vocal cords open during an episode 3) reducing severity and frequency of the episodes in hopes that we can get rid of them completely.
Kristie Knickerbocker, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and singing voice specialist in Fort Worth, Texas. She rehabilitates voice and swallowing at her private practice, a tempo Voice Center, and lectures on voice science nationally. She is part of the Professional Development Committee for ASHA Special Interest Group 3, Voice and Upper Airway Disorders, and a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and the Pan-American Vocology Association. Knickerbocker blogs on her website at www.atempovoicecenter.com. She has developed a line of kid and adult-friendly therapy materials specifically for voice on TPT or her website. Follow her on Pinterest, on Twitter and Instagram or like her on Facebook.