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Speech Pathology/ Voice Center

What is the Voice Center?

An elderly man tries to talk to a child

The Eastern Carolina ENT Voice Center is composed of six Ear, Nose, and Throat physicians and three speech-language pathologists (SLPs). A physician and SLP will work together as a team to identify the source of a patient's symptoms and offer appropriate treatment options.

Why should I choose The Voice Center?

Eastern Carolina ENT Voice Center offers evaluations for a broad range of voice disorders with corresponding treatment options as indicated. By having our speech-language pathologists and physicians together in the same office, they work closely as a team by collaborating and communicating directly to provide comprehensive and quality care. The Center also provides state-of-the-art evaluations including high-tech Videostroboscopy examinations to assess vocal pathologies in great detail. Our Voice Center was established to meet the needs of those whose voice disorders affect their day-to-day speech, as well as those who use their voice professionally, including public speakers, actors, and singers.

What are some common voice problems?

  • Hoarseness
  • Chronic throat clearing or coughing
  • Shortness of breath or noisy breathing
  • A feeling of a “lump in the throat”
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Laryngeal Spasm
  • Muscle Tension

What is Videostroboscopy?

Videostroboscopy equipment

Videostroboscopy is a unique test that uses high tech digital imaging technology to examine the larynx (voice box) as the vocal cords are moving. Click for more.

What is Speech Therapy and when is it used?

Speech therapy first involves educating the patient about his/her particular voice problem. Speech therapy exercises are most often presented the same day as the initial Videostroboscopy, with the patient being instructed to practice these exercises at home for a period of time. Occasionally, patients may need more formalized therapy in-office if progress is not made with home exercises. The original and follow-up Videostroboscopy pictures may be used to demonstrate the patient’s progress.

What are some examples of speech therapy techniques?

  • Identifying vocal abuse patterns which cause excess strain on the voice
  • Education on making healthier choices for overall better health of the vocal folds
  • Exercises to eliminate muscle tension in the voice box
  • Exercises to target the most efficient breathing patterns during speech
  • Exercises to strengthen the vocal fold muscles for a stronger voice
  • What if my voice needs medical attention?

Often both the speech-language pathologist and the physician contribute to the care of a particular voice problem. The combined medical and speech services at Eastern Carolina ENT provide the patient with comprehensive care. Sometimes a surgical procedure is recommended, and the speech-language pathologist may be involved in pre-and post-procedure care. Many times, speech therapy after surgery is warranted to help in the healing process and hopefully prevent another lesion from forming in the future. Our goal is to provide quality care under one roof with state-of-the-art services.

How do Professional Singers and Speakers benefit from the Voice Center?

Professional singers and speakers often seek medical intervention to enhance voice quality and performance. Once the Videostroboscopic examination is performed, the physician and speech-language pathologist are able to target the specific pathologies that may be contributing to the changes in the patient's voice. Patients have the opportunity to receive speech therapy geared towards the unique issues many professional voice users experience in their daily lives. Often, singers perceive a voice disorder or vocal cord lesions as career-enders. Very often this is not true, as the problem is usually treatable. A visit to Eastern Carolina ENT Voice Center helps the professional voice user understand that the voice box is not only an 'instrument,' but also a system of muscles that can be rehabilitated.

How do I make an appointment?

To make an appointment at Eastern Carolina ENT, please call our office at 252-752-5227 and request an appointment with one of our Physicians. You may also request to be seen by one of our speech-language pathologists for a Videostroboscopy as well; ultimately, your physician will determine if this type of evaluation is warranted during your appointment. Please bring any medical records regarding your voice problem to the appointment.

Our Clinicians provide evaluation and treatment for the following disorders:

  • Functional voice disorders
  • Structural/ Anatomical voice disorders
  • Paradoxical Vocal Fold Dysfunction
  • Subglottic Stenosis/ Airway competency
  • Frenulectomy
  • Spasmodic Dysphonia
  • Swallowing Disorders as a result of head and neck cancer intervention
  • Laryngectomy care
    • Pre-op/post-op counseling with patient and family
    • Voice rehabilitation with tracheo-esophageal speech (In-Health and Provox) and electrolarynx
    • General support with stoma management
  • (not an exhaustive list)

Meet Our Speech Pathology Team

Ashley K. Abel, M.S., CCC-SLP

Ashley K. Abel

Ashley has been working at Eastern Carolina ENT since June 2015. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Ashley then completed her graduate coursework at East Carolina University, receiving a Master of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders. She previously worked at Vidant Medical Center for three years in acute care. Ashley is a licensed SLP in the state of North Carolina and holds her Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) in Speech-Language Pathology.

Susan S. Hollowell, M.S., CCC-SLP

Susan S. Hollowell

Susan joined the staff at Eastern Carolina ENT in June 2015. She completed her undergraduate and graduate coursework at East Carolina University, where she recieved a Bachelor of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders and a Masters of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders. Susan previously worked at Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Administration Medical Center in Richmond, VA as well as Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, NC. She has been practicing since 2003 with experience in outpatient and acute care settings. Susan is a licensed SLP in the state of North Carolina and holds her Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) in Speech-Language Pathology.


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