I've enjoyed hearing feedback from you all about short term goals and how they work for you. Many of you are more specific in creation, but are focused on the same end goal. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, check out Part I of this series about Short Term voice rehabilitation goals.
Let's get to chatting about goals for the Long Term. Perhaps you abandoned some goals in the Short Term that were no longer appropriate. Maybe your patient has met all the Short Term goals and has a dramatically improved quality of life. This may be the perfect time to complete final acoustic measures, possibly a re-videostroboscopy, and a Vocal Handicap Index.
(1) Patient will demonstrate voice production abilities which meet the needs for activities of daily living while maintaining health of true vocal folds within 12 weeks as evidenced by patient report and SLP observations. (I have 12 weeks, because I always guess that 9-12 weeks is long enough for a patient to come to 4-6 sessions, with illness, no-shows and cancellations. Is your patient able to talk for work? Is the fatigue or throat pain lowered or eradicated completely?)
(2) Patient will decrease or eliminate pathology while improving overall health of true vocal folds by eliminating vocal misuse within 12 weeks as evidenced by patient report and SLP observations. (Misuse is not only throat clears, coughs and yelling, but pressed talking, or talking for long periods of time with no break. Singing, and especially voice use after the show, is another area of misuse that should have been addressed and fixed before this goal is met.)
(3) Patient will maximize efficiency of the vocal mechanism relative to existing laryngeal disorder through coordinating subsystems of voice within 12 weeks as evidenced by patient report and SLP observations. (This is an expansion of STG #5, and this target voice should be present across your patient's speaking patterns. Diagnosis is important here, as it can sometimes be appropriate to have LTG 2 & 3 for a patient, but sometimes it's one or the other. For example, if a patient has vocal nodules, LTG 2 only would be appropriate. If the patient has Muscle Tension Dysphonia in response to a vocal cyst, both may be appropriate because you want to decrease or eliminate the MTD, but the patient may or may not be a surgical candidate for the cyst to be removed, so that disorder would remain existing. And sometimes, you get lucky and the excrescence goes away with voice rehabilitation alone!)
(4) Patient will achieve improved/normal voice assessed with perceptual scales, acoustic and/or aerodynamic measures within 12 weeks. (Using the CAPE-V, AVQI, VHI, Cepstral Peak Prominence, you can track progress for your patient and also help back up your data for insurance reimbursement. I mean, who doesn't like to see tangible progress that is quantitative? By the way, Cepstral Peak Prominence (CPP) is considered the most promising and robust way of determining severity of a dysphonia....that's right, more than Jitter...more than Shimmer......)
(5) Patient will return to vocal activities of daily living with reduction and/or elimination of complaints regarding vocal production within 12 weeks as evidenced by patient report and SLP observations. (Your patient sometimes will come in and meet this goal, without having met all the short term goals, and you have no choice but to say hooray for you, and you never see that person again. It know it's hard, since you didn't finish your plan of care as you initially indicated, but this was the outcome we were looking for! The patient is happy, you shouldn't just keep them on case to fill boxes.)
(6) Patient will acquire vocalization skills to meet personal and professional needs while maintaining and improving health of true vocal folds as evidenced by patient report, as measured by improvement in acoustic measures, and as assessed through videostroboscopy and through perceptual analysis. (You may delete this or combine it with #5, but it could stand on its own as well. Patient report and your skilled clinical assessment are both important factors here.)
(Special thanks to SLP's Kim Coker, Chis Watts and Shelby Diviney, as I drew from their teachings and materials to formulate the Short and Long term goals listed in this blog series. Thanks to them both for being my mentors and guiding me in being the clinician I strive to be.)
Kristie Knickerbocker, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and singing voice specialist in Fort Worth, Texas. She rehabilitates voice and swallowing at her private practice, a tempo Voice Center, and lectures on vocal health to area choirs and students. She also owns and runs a mobile videostroboscopy and FEES company, Voice Diagnostix. She is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 3, Voice and Voice Disorders, and a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and the Pan-American Vocology Association. Knickerbocker blogs on her website at www.atempovoicecenter.com. She has developed a line of kid and adult-friendly therapy materials specifically for voice on TPT or her website. Follow her on Pinterest, on Twitter and Instagram or like her on Facebook.