Study: Resonance Tube Therapy Improves Speaking Ability

Marisa Wexler, MS avatar

by Marisa Wexler, MS |

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Voice therapy using resonance tubes — glass cylinders partially submerged in water — improved loudness and other vocal parameters in people with Parkinson’s disease, according to results of a small clinical trial from Brazil.

“Resonance tube voice therapy has positive effects on the vocal aspects in individuals with” Parkinson’s, its researchers wrote.

Results from the trial were detailed in the study, “Effects of Resonance Tube Voice Therapy on Parkinson’s Disease: Clinical Trial,” published in the Journal of Voice.

Nearly all people with Parkinson’s experience problems with speech, such as an atypically soft voice or difficulty enunciating. Here, researchers conducted a trial to test whether an intervention using resonance tubes could improve voice-related difficulties for people with Parkinson’s.

“This clinical study aimed to verify the effect of resonance tube voice therapy on the vocal aspects of patients” with Parkinson’s, the scientists wrote.

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A resonance tube is basically a hollow glass tube where one end is submerged in a container of water. This intervention involves having the patient practice vocalizing into the tube. Changing the depth that the tube is submerged in can increase the amount of resistance needed to make audible sounds, effectively prompting a “workout” for the muscles involved in speech.

This trial enrolled 14 people (10 men, four women) with Parkinson’s disease, all of whom reported speech difficulties. Participants underwent an initial round of speech assessments, then underwent resonance tube vocal therapy, given twice weekly for four weeks — eight sessions in total.

A second round of speech assessments was conducted, and results were compared against pre-intervention values.

Results showed that average scores for vocal intensity — in effect, loudness — increased significantly, from 71.88 decibels prior to the intervention to 75.9 decibels after the intervention.

“The results showed that the resonance tube therapy increased vocal intensity of participants … This positive effect is the most important result of this study because the vocal intensity impacts the communication of individuals with” Parkinson’s, the researchers wrote.

Improvements also were noted in some other vocal parameters, and scores on standardized measures of voice-related symptoms (VOISS) and life quality (V-RQOL) both improved significantly following the intervention.

“Participants were consistent in their responses both in the VOISS and in the V-RQOL protocol. Before the intervention, they had a greater number of symptoms and worse voice-related quality of life, while after the intervention protocols showed a reduction in symptoms and improvement in quality of life,” the researchers concluded, adding that this result “reinforces the effectiveness of resonance tube phonation therapy.”

The researchers noted this study is limited by its small size and short duration, writing, “further studies with larger samples, or with longer intervention and follow-up time after the intervention may complement the findings shown here.”