The Impact of Vocal Task on Voice Acoustics, Effort and Discomfort Following Submandibular Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation in Healthy Adults

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Background: Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) offers a potential adjuvant to traditional voice therapy for individuals with dysphonia. The type of vocal task to implement in conjunction with electrical stimulation to achieve maximal therapeutic benefit is unknown. The purpose of this study was to elucidate the impact of tasks on voice outcomes.

Methods: Nineteen vocally-healthy adult females, between 23 and 27 years of age (Ave: 23.8, SD: 1.13), participated in the study. 15 participants completed all three 30-minute sessions, and four completed at least one session. NMES was paired with three different voice conditions: high-pitched hum, low-pitched hum, and comfortable-pitched hum. Acoustic (average fundamental frequency and loudness; perturbation (jitter, shimmer, noise to harmonic ratio); Cepstral Spectral Index of Dysphonia; pitch range), perceived phonatory effort, and discomfort (delayed onset muscle soreness) measures were compared across conditions.

Results: Eight participants experienced discomfort following NMES. Three participants withdrew from the study due to discomfort, and one withdrew due to an unrelated oral surgery. NMES paired with high-pitch humming resulted in increased average fundamental frequency during sustained phonation and reading tasks, and increased Cepstral Spectral Index of Dysphonia during sustained phonation. Low-pitch humming resulted in a decreased noise to harmonic ratio. No statistically significant changes in perceived phonatory effort were noted.

Conclusion: Almost half of the participants reported temporary discomfort. Task-specific differences in some outcomes were noted indicating that the nature of voice task performed with NMES must be considered when examining the impact of NMES on voice. Vocal tasks can impact discomfort and acoustic vocal outcomes of NMES.


Online ahead of print 8 June 2021.

At the time of research and writing this article, Kaitlyn Mital was a graduate student in the Department of Physical Therapy and Human Movement at Sacred Heart University; Julie DoCarmo and Annelise Gaffney were graduate students in the Department of Communication Disorders at Sacred Heart University.






Elsevier and Voice Foundation