Care of the Performing Voice
Voice disorders can range from polyps in the larynx to a paralyzed vocal cord. Common symptoms of laryngeal disorders include hoarseness or breathiness, voice breaks, limitations in pitch range, volume or projection, deterioration of the voice with prolonged use, and chronic throat clearing or coughing.
Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders
A variety of ear, nose and throat conditions can plague a performer. These include sinus disease, hearing loss, throat infections, dizziness, changes in taste and/or smell, swallowing problems, sleep disorders, nasal breathing problems, and trauma to the head and neck.
Mental Health Issues
Comprehensive treatment programs, including individual and group therapy, as well as medication management, are available to treat anxiety disorders such as phobias and panic attacks, mood disorders — including depression, eating disorders, and alcohol dependency and substance abuse.
Performing artists, particularly dancers and musicians, are at high risk for a number of musculoskeletal conditions due to the repetitive stresses and strains on their bones, joints and soft tissues. Our colleagues at the adjacent Hospital for Special Surgery—affiliated with Weill Cornell and NewYork-Presbyterian—are experts in this area.
Neurological Conditions/Movement Disorders
Neurological conditions and movement disorders can involve the voice, the head, the limbs, or any part of the body. These disorders include task-specific tremors, dystonia—a movement disorder characterized by sustained muscle contractions—as well as Parkinson's disease. Neurological conditions can develop at any time during an artist's career.
Asthma, chronic cough, and shortness of breath are the primary symptoms that are of concern to many types of performing artists, including singers, dancers and actors, as well as sculptors and painters who can be exposed to different kinds of chemicals, sprays and toxins.