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Cough and Throat Clearing Biomechanics

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This research topic was a natural offshoot from Dr. Bonilha’s clinical work with persons with voice disorders. In the clinic, she could easily explain the research basis for the majority of the diagnostic and treatment approaches that she used. However, this was not true for the numerous patients who presented with chronic coughing and throat clearing. For these patients, she had a general idea of coughing and throat clearing being harmful because of the contact force of the vocal folds and the “habituation theory” that explained why coughing and throat clearing became chronic. Yet these ideas were not founded on evidence. Dr Bonilha decided to explore the biomechanics of coughing and its potential relationship to voice disorders in her first PI NIH grant.

R03 Aim 1: Using High-Speed Videoendoscopy to Study the Biomechanics of Coughing and Throat Clearing as Compared to Phonation and Substitution Behaviors Used in Treatment in Persons with and without Voice Disorders

  • 95% of persons with hyperfunctional voice disorders chronically cough and throat clear.
  • Chronic coughing and throat clearing has been considered a cause and consequence of voice disorders.
  • Chronic coughing and throat clearing is also a factor that impedes the treatment of voice disorders. These behaviors can greatly impact the outcomes of behavioral voice treatment and surgical interventions.
  • Demonstrating the mechanical cause of vocal fold tissue damage from coughing and throat clearing is a necessary foundational step to be able to propose research into the treatment of habitual coughing and throat clearing.

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