Vocal cord paralysis is a condition in which you can't control the movement of the muscles that control your voice. It happens when the nerve impulses to your voice box (larynx) are disrupted. This results in paralysis of the vocal cord muscles. Vocal cord paralysis can make it hard to speak and even breathe. That's because your vocal cords, also called vocal folds, do more than just produce sound. They also protect your airway by preventing food, drink and even your saliva from entering your windpipe (trachea) and causing you to choke.