Patients who have undergone removal of the larynx are finding their voice again thanks to a new program at The Royal Melbourne Hospital.
Laryngectomy, or removal of the larynx, can have a significant impact on the physical and social wellbeing of people who overnight lose their ability to communicate verbally.
Essential to enabling communication for these patients is the provision of a loan electrolarynx, which they are trained to operate. An electrolarynx is a hand held device, which produces mechanically generated vibrations as an alternative source of voice for speech production.
This is standard practice for patients immediately after laryngectomy surgery and is a viable long term communication option. Without the fluency of speech that an electrolarynx affords someone, communication can often be limited to writing and may only convey basic functional content.
Joan*, a former RMH patient, reported the provision of an electrolarynx as part of her communication rehabilitation had ‘an enormous impact’ on her ability to participate in society.
“It continues to positively impact my quality of life and day to day function, as I use it every day at work and it is much easier for other people to understand me.”
With financial support from the Dry July Foundation, The Royal Melbourne Hospital can now more reliably provide all patients following laryngectomy with a new voice.
*Patient name changed.
Pictured is Speech Pathologist Lauren with the electrolarynx device.