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Author Topic: Question on throat injuries
Silver3
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I've googled, but I haven't been able to find anything useful on that one. Can anyone help?

I have a character who had a serious throat injury (let's say she was badly mauled by claws, to keep it short) and who later recovered, but still has the scars. Will the throat injury affect her vocal cords? (I'd rather like her to have a hoarse
voice, but don't know how likely that is).

Thanks in advance,


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Jeraliey
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http://www.voice.northwestern.edu/howworks.html

I don't know how helpful this will be, but it's a bit of information on the structure and functions of the larynx. You could probably extrapolate regarding how it is injured in your story, how the development of scar tissue would affect function, and what other problems the character would have with a damaged larynx.

It seems like if you wanted a gruff voice, you'd have to find a way to turn the vocal folds (or parts of them) to scar tissue. Scar tissue is notoriously less flexible than the tissue it replaces (which is one of the reasons why an MI seems to lead to further heart failure), and the function of the vocal folds is dependent on their flexibility.

From voiceproblem.org:

Symptoms Associated With Vocal Fold Scar

* Vocal fold scar tissue is "stiffer" than the surrounding area, thus resulting in altered vocal fold vibration.
* Any alteration in vocal fold vibration or ability to vibrate causes voice symptoms such as hoarseness, breathy voice, voice effort, voice fatigue – symptoms that are common to other voice disorders as well.


http://www.emedicine.com/emerg/topic331.htm

This is a little dense medical-speak-wise, but it has some important information about what other structures are at risk when you've got a neck injury.

Hope that helps!


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Silver3
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Thanks very much !
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sholar
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Ahh! Flashbacks of bioengineering. I did a major project of scarring and treatments.
http://www.entusa.com/larynx_videos.htm
This doesn't have any "scars" but it is different people with different throat problems (cancer, polyps, acid reflux, etc) talking. It might give you a better idea of how voice quality can be affected. Our project was based around the fact that once damage has been done to your vocal chords, you never regain normal voice quality. So, if your characted did not talk different in some way, I would consider it a minor plot problem (I would then justify that the damage must have been around the chords, not to them directly and then been ok with it).

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Silver3
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Yuck. The videos are not all pretty to watch, but the soundbites are great use. Thanks ! (BTW, I want her to actually have a hoarse voice, so I suppose there has to be some vocal cord damage).
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Survivor
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I'm sure you already understand this, but an external injury that scarred the vocal cords would be very life threatening (particularly if it resulted from an animal attack, they don't "go for the throat" from dislike of your voice). Be sure she had someone get her to good medical care, eh?
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keldon02
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Might be more believable to have a minor injury to the left recurrent laryngeal nerve. This is a branch of the vagus nerve which comes back up out of the chest and produces hoarsness if it is severed.

The actual vocal cords are tiny, like little bands of Saran Wrap, with their total airway opening about the size of a dime. Any significant injury to them will likely produce death from swelling.


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Silver3
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Survivor: lol. Yep, the animals in question were definitely intent on killing her. I'll get her to a good doctor

keldon02, thanks for the precision. I'm aware I'm treading on thin ice here. I'll look it up and do some advanced thinking.


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Elan
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Make her a smoker... that will add a raspy voice to her
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Survivor
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Direct damage to the vocal cords isn't necessary, if the area is injured, your voice will be affected by the scarring. Nerve injury is a possiblity, but fine medical distinctions probably don't match the milieu, am I right?
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Silver3
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Bang on target It's a medieval/ancient milieu. How would scarring affect the voice? Mild hoarseness?
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Survivor
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Up to you. Scar tissue intruding on the windpipe could do a lot of things to her voice, but "hoarseness" describes most of them pretty well. It would be rare for someone to survive that kind of injury without modern emergency medical care, though.
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keldon02
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How about screaming? Maybe she was struck on the shoulder and let out a bloodcurdling scream which damaged her voice?

Survivor, scar tissue on the windpipe leads to a breathy sound like trying to blow through the barrel of an empty ballpoint pen. The tighter the obstruction the higher the pitch. To tell the truth, there are a lot of other structures which would be damaged, mostly blood vessels. The nerves which control the arms splay out from multiple levels of the spinal cord. Et cetera. So if this is a medieval scenerio it might be best to find some other reason for the hoarseness.

Screaming is believable.

[This message has been edited by keldon02 (edited March 28, 2006).]


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Survivor
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Yeah, but everybody screams from time to time. There are people who damage their voices yelling for their local sports team. Silver3 wants her character to be unique and have a cool, scary aspect. You know, like an eye-patch. Only audible.
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tchernabyelo
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An audible eye-patch?

"Hey! You! What you staring at? Yeah, sure, I only got one eye - you got a problem with that, bud?"

That would be cool


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Silver3
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Audible eye-patch sure sounds cool

I think I've put the problem in reverse: I need the character to have her throat slashed anyway. I thought it would be cool if she had a hoarse voice, too


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pjp
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I can't comment specifically on claws cutting a throat, however, I do have experience with someone who was in a car accident.

Even after many years of therapy, her voice "cut out" as she spoke, so you'd only hear parts of words. Initially it was very awkward, but after a while, she was understandable without much difficulty. If she raised her voice though, the cutting out wasn't there, or was much less noticeable (many years ago, so I forget exactly).

I'd say most things would probably be reasonable. Consider people with throat cancer (Jack Klugman comes to mind -- sample if you're interested... http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5226119).


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Silver3
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Thanks ! That's very useful.
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