Electrolarynx

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An electrolarynx, sometimes referred to as a "throat back", is a medical device about the size of a small electric razor used to produce clearer speech by those who have lost their voicebox, usually due to cancer of the larynx. The most common device is a handheld, battery-operated device placed under the mandible which produces vibrations and allow speech.[1] Earlier non-electric devices were called mechanical larynxes. Along with developing esophageal voice, robotic voice or undergoing a surgical procedure, the electrolarynx serves as a mode of speech recovery for laryngectomy patients.

Overview[edit]

Initially, the pneumatic mechanical larynx was developed in the 1920s by Western Electric. It did not run on electricity, and was flawed in that it produced a weak voice. Electrolarynxes were introduced in the 1940s, at a time when esophageal voice was being promoted as the best course in speech recovery; however, since that technique is difficult to master, the electrolarynx became quite popular. Since then, many medical procedures, such as the tracheo-oesophageal puncture, were created to enable speech without continued dependence on a handheld device.

External media
Audio
Using A New Voice To Enjoy Life After Cancer (2:54), StoryCorps[2]
Video
Communication after laryngectomy (8:58), South East Coast Laryngectomy Support Groups (UK)[3]

The use of an electrolarynx can cause some social issues including difficulty ordering a drink in a noisy pub,[3] and, when answering a telephone, the caller responds "Is this a computer that I'm speaking to?"[2] One user states:

People are really very kind once they realize what the situation is. I may go into a restaurant once, and if I go back there a year later, and it's the same woman at the front desk, she'll say, 'Where have you been? We haven't seen you for a while.' So, I feel like a movie star...
I'm really very blessed in my life. I am happier now, without my voice, than I've ever been with my voice. It's a small price to pay for being alive and enjoying life. So I am very happy where I am now.[2]

Fictional users[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Department of Otolaryngology. "Electrolaryngeal Speech". Eastern Virginia Medical School. Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Forman, Rene; Nadia Reiman, Jud Esty-Kendall with radio station KCRW (2012). "Using A New Voice To Enjoy Life After Cancer". StoryCorps. National Public Radio. Retrieved February 13, 2012.  Also hear the audio at NPR
  3. ^ a b "Communication after laryngectomy". South East Coast Laryngectomy Support Groups (UK). March 9, 2011. Retrieved March 14, 2013.