You may be wondering how you will be able to speak after a laryngectomy. The way you speak and the sound of your voice will change, but fortunately, there are ways to regain the power of speech through voice rehabilitation.
We rely on our voices to express our thoughts and feelings. A total laryngectomy means your larynx is removed – including your vocal cords. Right after a laryngectomy, the quickest way to communicate with family, friends and healthcare professionals will be through the use of writing and gestures. It may help to practice some simple gestures and ways of communicating together with friends and family prior to your surgery. There are also apps available for smartphones that can help translate text to speech.
Losing your natural voice can initially be quite upsetting, and will have an impact on both your ability to communicate and your sense of identity. But the good news is that there are several ways to regain your voice and ability to speak after a laryngectomy. In most cases you will already have been in contact with your speech and language therapist prior to your surgery, he or she will give you advise on voicing methods that can be learned after surgery to develop your new voice.
Before a laryngectomy, the voice is produced by the vocal cords. The vocal cords are located in your larynx, also known as your voice box, and are the source of your natural voice.
During exhalation, the air passes the vocal cords, which produces sound through a rhythmic opening and closing.
Having a total laryngectomy removes your larynx and vocal cords, so the way you speak after a laryngectomy is going to change. Your voice will sound different than it did before because it is no longer coming from your vocal cords.
There are 3 different methods for voice rehabilitation following a laryngectomy: