A recent study, conducted by the Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, and the University of Northern Iowa’s Voice Research Centre, in Cedar Falls, Iowa, in the US, has concluded that teachers experiencing vocal injuries are costing the US economy US$2 billion per year.
Female teachers are more likely to suffer from the effects of shouting in noisy classrooms with poorly designed acoustics – women have smaller laryngeal systems than men. Even talking in conversational tones for extended periods of time can put the vocal chords at risk.
Picking up where the Harvard study left off, a group of researchers from Michigan State University and the University of Utah have found a potential link between pulmonary function and the symptoms of voice fatigue in female teachers.
Eric Hunter, lead investigator and associate chair in the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders at Michigan State University, says the study found that “[f ]emale teachers are particularly at risk of developing voice problems, affecting teaching quality and leading to increased teacher absenteeism, increased healthcare costs and sometimes even early retirement. Teachers’ voice disorders also hamper students’ learning, especially for those students with learning or hearing difficulties.”
His team also advised that teachers should be regularly screened for vocal fatigue. This means that educators could be warned in advance of potential voice problems, which would remind them to do preventative exercises as well as pay attention to voice rest while teaching.
Category: Spring 2016