Vocal cord paralysis or VOCAL FOLD paralysis (VFP)


Every person has two vocal cords in the larynx (voice box). The vocal cords vibrate when you are speaking to produce sound. If one or both of the vocal cords cannot move this is vocal cord paralysis. Vocal cord paralysis can result in breathing, voice and/or swallowing problems.


  • hoarseness
  • "breathy" voice
  • soft voice
  • limitations in pitch
  • short voicing
  • weak cry or voice
  • difficulty with breath management
  • coughing or choking when eating
  • aspiration of food into the lungs
  • Stridor (noisy breathing) is the most common symptom


Vocal cord paralysis is diagnosed by an ear, nose and throat doctor. When vocal cord paralysis diagnosed a complete voice and swallowing evaluation is completed by a Speech Language Pathologist. (SLP) The SLP will discuss your child's medical history, current uses of the voice and discuss you concerns. They will then talk with your child, complete a physical examination of the mouth and throat, and complete some tests. If swallowing is involved the therapist will evaluate this as well. After the evaluation your therapist and doctor will talk with you about treatment options.


When both vocal cords are involved, medical treatment is often required and your doctor will talk to you about these options. Your child might also receive speech therapy.
When one vocal cord is involved you may need medical treatment and more often your child may only need speech therapy.
Your child will work with the speech therapist to increase breath support, pitch alteration, positioning, swallowing skills, and other compensatory techniques.
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