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Impact of voice and communication deficits for individuals with cervical spinal cord injury living in the community

E. C. Ward, L. Jarman, P. L. Cornwell, D. I. Amsters,

Academic Literature


Background: Post-spinal cord injury (SCI), individuals may exhibit mild to moderate impairments in aspects of speech influenced by impaired respiratory support. However, limited research has been conducted into the impact of these impairments on activity and participation when living in the community. Aims: To examine the nature and extent of voice and communication function in a group of individuals with cervical SCI living in the community, and to explore participant perceptions of the impact of these deficits on levels of activity and participation. Methods & Procedures: Participants included 14 individuals who had sustained a SCI above C8 level and had returned to living in the community. All completed a series of speech and voice assessments, the Voice Handicap Index, the Australian Therapy Outcome Measures Voice scale, four voice perception questions, and the General Short Form of the Communicative Participation Item Bank. Outcomes & Results: As a group, participants were found to have reduced vocal intensity and phonatory duration. Vocal quality was mildly altered in 93% and pitch control, breath support for speech, speech rate and phrase length impacted in one-quarter or more of the group. All reported impacts, though three individuals reported that their impairments had more extensive impact on communication in daily life. Conclusions & Implications: Individuals post-SCI experience mild speech and voice deficits that can have negative impacts on functional communication. The monitoring of communication function may help to identify those individuals who could benefit from additional support and intervention on return to community life. © 2016 Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists

Publication information

Journal/Publication : International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders

Domain/s: Social relationships

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