Using Beatboxing for Creative Rehabilitation After Laryngectomy: Experiences From a Public Engagement Project

Thomas Moors, Sanjeev Silva, Donatella Maraschin, David Young, John M. Quinn, John de Carpentier, Johan Allouche, Evangelos Himonides (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
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Laryngectomy is the surgical removal of the larynx (voice box), usually performed in patients with advanced stages of throat cancer. The psychosocial impact of losing the voice is significant, affecting a person’s professional and social life in a devastating way, and a proportion of this patient group subsequently must overcome depression (22–30%) and social isolation (40%). The profound changes to anatomical structures involved in voicing and articulation, as a result of surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy (separately or in combination with one another), introduce challenges faced in speech rehabilitation and voice production that complicate social reintegration and quality of life. After laryngectomy, breathing, voicing, articulation and tongue movement are major components in restoring communication. Regular exercise of the chest, neck and oropharyngeal muscles, in particular, is important in controlling these components and keeping the involved structures supple. It is, however, a difficult task for a speech therapist to keep the patient engaged and motivated to practice these exercises. We have adopted a multidisciplinary approach to explore the use of basic beatboxing techniques to create a wide variety of exercises that are seen as fun and interactive and that maximize the use of the structures important in alaryngeal phonation. We herein report on our empirical work in developing patients’ skills, particularly relating to voiced and unvoiced consonants to improve intelligibility. In collaboration with a professional beatboxing performer, we produced instructional online video materials to support patients working on their own and/or with support from speech therapists. Although the present paper is focused predominantly on introducing the structure of the conducted workshops, the rationale for their design and the final public engagement performance, we also include feedback from participants to commence the critical discourse about whether this type of activity could lead to systematic underlying research and robustly assessed interventions in the future. Based on this exploratory work, we conclude that the innovative approach that we employed was found to be engaging, useful, informative and motivating. We conclude by offering our views regarding the limitations of our work and the implications for future empirical research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2854
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jan 2020


  • beatboxing
  • head and neck cancer
  • laryngectomy
  • throat cancer
  • voice rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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