Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About SLPs (but were afraid to ask)

An Interview with SLP Leanne Goldberg MS, CCC-SLP

By Brenda Earle Stokes, BFA, M.Mus.

Leanne Goldberg is a Speech and Language Pathologist at the Grabscheid Voice and Swallowing Center at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

Back in 2016, I was diagnosed as having vocal fold nodules.  My laryngologist recommended speech therapy, but at the time his SLP on staff was on maternity leave.  When I asked around, Leanne Goldberg’s name came up, and it turns out I already knew her socially.  She provided me with excellent care, provided me with six weeks of highly effective treatment and helped me to recover and improve my speech habits.  She was so caring towards me during this highly upsetting time in my career and was quick to answer me when I reached out for additional support.

Since this entire process was so new to me, I conducted this interview with her, to help answer a few questions about what Speech and Language Pathologists do and Leanne’s tips for excellent vocal health.

Q:  What is a Speech and Language Pathologist ( SLP)? 

Goldberg:  A Speech and Language Pathologist, specifically one who works in an ENT (Ear Nose and Throat) office with a Laryngologist  (a doctor who specializes in treating the voice),  is someone who specializes in treating voice disorders, as well as swallowing and airway disorders. He or she has spent a significant amount of time working with these populations and has accrued additional hours and courses in these areas of special interest.

He or she has completed a Master’s or Doctoral Degree, passed a National Exam, completed a 1-year supervised Fellowship and has a license to practice in their state.  They must complete a certain number of continuing education credits to maintain their clinical certificate of competency (CCC).

Q:  What are your qualifications and training?

Goldberg:  I have a Master’s Degree in Science from Columbia University.  I had multiple externships while pursuing my degree, working mainly with  adults.  After receiving my degree, I completed my Fellowship year at Mount Sinai Medical Center. I received a Clinical Certificate of Competency from ASHA (American Speech and Hearing Association)

Q:  Do all SLP’s work with singers?

Goldberg:  No. This is a specialty within our field. One should seek out a Speech and Language Pathologist who works with a Laryngologist and has experience working with singers.

Q:  When should a singer or professional voice user consult an SLP/Laryngologist?

Goldberg:

  1. When they notice a change in vocal effort
  2. When they notice a change in their voice quality in terms of roughness and range , and
  3. Hopefully before anyone else notices it.

They should also have a relationship with a Laryngologist and SLP before there is a problem. This is to establish a baseline of what their larynx looks like when they are happy with their sound /voice.

Q:  How do you interface with an Otolaryngologist (a general Ear Nose and Throat Doctor)?

Goldberg:  While I am called in to consult with our general Otolaryngologist here at the Faculty Practice at Mount Sinai, my main focus  is to see patients with our Laryngologist, Dr. Mark Courey. Laryngology is a very specialized focus on the larynx and voice in particular.

One thing that sets us apart from other voice centers, is that we see our patients as a team. The patients receive the benefit of an interdisciplinary evaluation. Both the Laryngologist (doctor)  and the Speech Pathologist (voice specialist/therapist) are in the room for the patient’s  initial visit. The evaluation, recommendations and plan are all discussed at the time, with the patient and team. The feedback we receive from our patient population is overwhelmingly positive. The patient is  receiving the benefit of different perspectives from varied professionals regarding their voice, its function and treatment options. They become active participants in their care.

What are the most common problems that singers have when they come to The Grabscheid Voice Center, Mount Sinai Hospital ?

Goldberg:  Fatigue and loss of range

What types of treatment do you provide?

Goldberg: 

Care for the professional voice

Vocal hygiene, health

Our center has a particular focus on using voice therapy techniques to reduce the need for surgery

Voice therapy on efficient use of voice with focus on placement and airflow (this is what helps to avoid/prevent injury and surgery)

Rehabilitation for voice injury (nodules, polyps)

Post-op healing after vocal cord surgery

Resonant voice

Flow phonation

Expiratory Muscle Strength Training

Stretches to relieve upper body tension specifically for voice users (cervical, base of tongue, jaw, shoulder etc.)
Laryngeal massage

Reflux dietary and behavioral precautions

Treatment of chronic cough /throat clearing
Treatment for Neurological voice disorders


 

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