Ann Blackford

By

College: Medicine

UK Researchers Leading the Way in Understanding Age-Related Voice and Swallowing Disorders

Published: Nov 21, 2013

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 21, 2013) − John Barker, is one of 29 percent of the population over the age of 65 who complain of a voice problem. Barker, 83 from Ashland, Ky., was referred to the University of Kentucky's Clinical Voice Center after he noticed his voice was getting weaker and he could no longer hit the high notes when he sang.

 

Music has been a big part of Barker's life since he first sang publicly in the first grade. He went on to sing with a trio in college, with a German dance band while in the military, and currently sings with his church choir and a group in Ashland called 'Old Friends,' featuring music from the Big Band Era.  

 

As people age, it is inevitable that bodily changes take place. Some of the most obvious tell-tale signs are graying hair, extra lines and wrinkles, loss of muscle mass, decline in vision and hearing but the voice ages as well.

 

An interdisciplinary team of researchers from the UK College of Health Sciences and the College of Medicine, have been awarded several National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants, including a $1.5 million grant, to advance a new line of translational research that only a handful of researchers in the country are doing:  uncovering the biology of the aging voice.

 

The translational research of this interdisciplinary team is leading the way in the understanding and care of age-related voice and swallowing disorders and may someday help predict who will develop voice and swallowing problems.

 

Within the next 15 years, one-fifth of the U.S. population will be over the age of 65.  Joseph Stemple, professor in the Division of Communication Sciences and Disorders in the College of Health Sciences and co-investigator on the study, says that people are living longer, working longer, and because of that, want to maintain their youthful voice.

 

"The deterioration of voice quality has a negative impact on health and especially so if there is also trouble swallowing. The goal of our research is to determine if we can do something with the laryngeal muscles to diminish their response to aging," said Stemple.  "Voice and swallowing therapy conducted by a speech-language pathologist currently helps individuals with these disorders, but the underlying biology is still not well understood.  Unlike arm and leg muscles which can be strengthened with exercise, it is not known if or how laryngeal muscles can be best adjusted due to its unique biology.  Discovering this knowledge is the goal of our research."

 

The aging voice, medically known as presbyphonia, is a bowing of the vocal folds that leads to symptoms that make a person 'sound old.'  The primary symptoms of presbyphonia may include a breathy and soft voice, and a general difficultly in raising the loudness of the voice.  Hoarseness may also occur so that the voice is no longer clear, and the ability to vary vocal pitch may also be reduced.  These changes work together to make speech, voice and singing much more effortful to produce.

 

The larynx, a structure that forms the valve-like entryway into the lungs, is one small part of a larger system that allows humans to produce speech and song; a system that includes the entire area from the abdomen to the skull. "More than 50 muscles are involved across this entire region to produce speech, including the six muscle groups and nine cartilages in the larynx," said Richard Andreatta, associate professor in the Division of Communication Sciences and Disorders. "Voice production involves dynamic control of the throat, lungs, and abdomen which are all centrally regulated by the brain. All the parts must interact just to produce a simple sound.”

 

Colleen McMullen, adjunct faculty in the Department of Physiology in the College of Medicine and principal investigator on the study, said that it may be possible in the future to enhance voice quality and swallowing in humans with injectable growth factors that promote healing and restoration of the laryngeal muscles.

 

Currently, the team is testing the effects of injection of growth factors, and exercise of the laryngeal muscles on animal models that possess similarities to the laryngeal anatomy of humans. "We are building towards something that can help humans," Stemple said. "We are also looking at biomarkers in humans so that we can predict who will develop voice and swallowing problems and who will benefit from these treatments."

 

Barker worked with JoAnna Sloggy, a Speech-Language Pathologist and Singing Voice Specialist at the UK Clinical Voice Center. Once videos and photos of his larynx were taken and a diagnosis of presbyphonia was determined, a rigorous course of vocal exercises was prescribed. Today, Barker's voice is strong and clear.

 

"If I couldn't sing, life would be," he said and pauses, "….bad."

 

"I am very pleased with UK's program and the great group of people there," he said.

 

Media Contact: Ann Blackford at 859-323-6442 or ann.blackford@uky.edu

 

john_barker_2.jpgjohn_barker_1.jpgaging_voice.jpg
April
 
 
 
1
LNFS Presents: Inherent Vice
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Successful Networking & Job Search
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Brazilian Conversation Hour
The Arboretum presents a Party for the Planet! Celebrate Kentucky's Past
Mr. PharmD Pageant 2015
Wed
2
LNFS Presents: Manakamana
LNFS Presents: Donnie Darko
National Student Exchange (NSE) Info Session
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
SEC-ACC Virtual Career Fair
Massage on the Go #3
Thu
3
Cultural Coffee Hour
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Fri
4
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sat
5
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sun
6
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
Age Friendly Community Panel
Resumes & Cover Letters that Work
Mon
7
National Student Exchange (NSE) Info Session
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Tue
8
LNFS Presents: The Godfather
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Internship Info Session
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Brazilian Conversation Hour
UK Remembers
SpeakBlue: Richard Sherman
Wed
9
LNFS Presents: The Shawshank Redemption
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
From Plows to Plates: A Journey Through Kentucky Foodways
Workshop on Publishing
Teached Documentary
Thu
10
LNFS Presents: Enemy
LNFS Presents: Seven Psychopaths
Cultural Coffee Hour
Last Day to Withdraw or Reduce Course Load
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Robert C. May Photography Endowment Lecture: Julian Cox
Fri
11
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
fab-ric-ate Exhibit
Sat
12
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Kentucky's Present - Learn about the Bluegrass region of the Walk Across Kentucky and about invasive plants that threaten Kentucky landscapes
Sun
13
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
Don't Ask, Don't Tell
Get Your DIY On! Fix-It Station Demonstrations
Mon
14
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Job Club - LinkedIn: Your Job Search Best Friend
Tie Dye Tuesday
#UK Kick Butts Day
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 1 p.m.
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 2 p.m.
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 3 p.m.
Take Back the Night Lexington
Tue
15
LNFS Presents: The Godfather: Part II
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Brazilian Conversation Hour
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 11 a.m.
Career & Major Exploration Session @ Noon
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 1 p.m.
Affrilachian Poets
Bike-In Movie: The Bicycle Thieves
Wed
16
LNFS Presents: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
CANCELED: Bike-In Breakfast
Human Rights in China: a panel discussion
Thu
17
LNFS Presents: North by Northwest
LNFS Presents: Raiders of the Lost Ark
Cultural Coffee Hour
Car-Free Day
Performance Conference
Audience Appeals and Performing Assistance Conference
Holi: The Indian Festival of Colors
Fri
18
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Bully Breed Awareness Walk
Spring Carnival 2015
Taste of Africa
GAYla Drag Show and Silent Auction
Sat
19
 
Sun
20
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
Floral Sculpture
Pinterest Party #3
Mon
21
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Student Center "Farewell" Informational Fair
Tour de Downtown Art
Tue
22
LNFS Presents: Birdman
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
National Student Exchange (NSE) Info Session
Brazilian Conversation Hour
Healthy Smoothie Demonstration
Ping Pong Ball Drop
Shake the Stress Fest
Wed
23
LNFS Presents: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
LNFS Presents: The Avengers
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
Wildcat Wrap-Up
UK Elder Care Lunch & Learn
Kentucky's Future - Plant a Tree in the Pennyrile region of the Walk Across Kentucky
Thu
24
LNFS Presents: Batman
LNFS Presents: O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Cultural Coffee Hour
Art in Bloom Weekend
Fri
25
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Network Publishing: Digital Writing in the Humanities
The Party for the Planet final event in April is Arbor Day at The Arboretum!
Art in Bloom Weekend
Raise the Chinese Dream in Kentucky
Art in Bloom Cocktail Party
Sat
26
Art in Bloom Weekend
Sun
27
Resumes & Cover Letters that Work
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
Fuel for Finals
UK Ag Equine Programs Distinguished Lecture Series
Mon
28
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Be PAWsitive!
Job Club: How to Write the Perfect Resume and Cover Letter
Showcase of Undergraduate Scholars
How to Impress Your Boss: Employer Panel
Tue
29
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Internship Info Session
Brazilian Conversation Hour
Appalachian Research Day
Wed
30
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
Thu
 
 

Repeats every week until Thu Apr 30 2015 except Tue Mar 17 2015.
Tue, 04/28/2015

Tue, 04/28/2015

Reset Page