Training effects on speech production using a hands-free electromyographically controlled electrolarynx

J Speech Lang Hear Res. 2007 Apr;50(2):335-51. doi: 10.1044/1092-4388(2007/024).


Purpose: The electrolarynx (EL) is a widely used device for alaryngeal speech, but it requires manual operation and produces voice that typically has a constant fundamental frequency. An electromyographically controlled EL (EMG-EL) was designed and implemented to provide hands-free control with dynamic pitch modulation.

Method: Three participants who underwent total laryngectomy surgery and 4 participants with normal voice were trained to produce EMG-EL speech through a multiple-baseline, successive-stage protocol. Baseline performance was established through 3 testing probes, followed by multiple hour-long training sessions.

Results: At the end of the training, all participants learned to initiate, sustain, and terminate EMG-EL activation in correspondence with articulation, and most were able to modulate the pitch to produce intonational contrasts. After completing the testing/training protocol, 1 of the 3 participants who underwent total laryngectomy was encouraged to independently use the EMG-EL at his residence. This participant sustained his performance for an additional 6 weeks and also used the EMG-EL successfully to communicate over the phone.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that some participants with laryngectomies and vocally normal individuals can learn to produce hands-free speech using the EMG-EL device within a few hours and that significant additional gains in device control (particularly pitch modulation) are attainable through subsequent training sessions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Electric Stimulation / instrumentation
  • Electromyography / instrumentation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Larynx, Artificial*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Pitch Perception
  • Sound Spectrography
  • Speech Perception*
  • Speech Production Measurement
  • Voice