by Vincent M. DelGiudice, MSCCC-SLP
Choosing the best option for your communication after a total laryngectomy depends on several factors. Most people can use the electrolarynx while other options may be more limited.
The electrolarynx is a relatively simple device to use. The upkeep with the device is easy and only requires battery changing. An electrolarynx is a good option for someone who isn’t eligible for other types of devices. This device is easy to learn and you can communicate as soon as you start using it.
The device takes the place of your voice box. It vibrates the throat and when you mouth words, you will hear what you are saying in a slightly robotic voice. It will take some time to learn to space out words and certain sounds to maximize intelligibility. There is a short learning curve to using this device accurately. This device is a cylinder shape. It looks similar to a thick glue stick and would have to be carried in your purse or pocket wherever you went.
My grandfather uses this device and when I asked him why he chose this device, his answer was, “there were no other options. This was the only option for me.” As that may be true, he may not have been given other options, so it is important to ask before your surgery about all of the options for communication. You want to make an informed decision on how you want to communicate and there is no reason why you shouldn’t test out an electrolarynx before your surgery, as anyone can use it with or without a larynx.