Neck and face surface electromyography for prosthetic voice control after total laryngectomy

IEEE Trans Neural Syst Rehabil Eng. 2009 Apr;17(2):146-55. doi: 10.1109/TNSRE.2009.2017805. Epub 2009 Mar 16.


The electrolarynx (EL) is a common rehabilitative speech aid for individuals who have undergone total laryngectomy, but they typically lack pitch control and require the exclusive use of one hand. The viability of using neck and face surface electromyography (sEMG) to control the onset, offset, and pitch of an EMG-controlled EL (EMG-EL) was studied. Eight individuals who had undergone total laryngectomy produced serial and running speech using a typical handheld EL and the EMG-EL while attending to real-time visual sEMG biofeedback. Running speech tokens produced with the EMG-EL were examined for naturalness by 10 listeners relative to those produced with a typical EL using a visual analog scale. Serial speech performance was assessed as the percentage of words that were fully voiced and pauses that were successfully produced. Results of the visual analog scale assessment indicated that individuals were able to use the EMG-EL without training to produce running speech perceived as natural as that produced with a typical handheld EL. All participants were able to produce running and serial speech with the EMG-EL controlled by sEMG from multiple recording locations, with the superior ventral neck or submental surface locations providing at least one of the two best control locations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Communication Aids for Disabled*
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Electrodes
  • Electromyography / methods*
  • Face / physiology*
  • Facial Muscles / physiology
  • Feedback / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laryngectomy*
  • Larynx, Artificial
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck / physiology*
  • Neck Muscles / physiology
  • Radiotherapy / adverse effects
  • Software
  • Speech, Alaryngeal*