In honor of World Voice Day, University Hospitals offers a free webinar explaining the latest advances in voice box surgery and access to a new documentary.

CLEVELAND – This is one of our abilities that we rarely think about until it works.

Take a second to think about everything your voice can do. We use it to express emotions, sing, communicate. It is part of our identity, and an active voice is critical to quality of life.

And now imagine if you lost it. Forever.

That’s what happened to Matt Selker. And no, smoking is not lost.

“I’ve never smoked in my life, it can happen to anyone,” Matt said.

Target had aggressive thyroid cancer, and to save his life, he needed a complete laryngectomy or removal of the vocal cord.

University hospitals bring voice awareness to the forefront, explaining the reasons why some, like Matt, may lose their voice box forever.

– Throat / laryngeal injury

– Diseases associated with smoking

So how do you regain the ability to speak?

“We have something called a tracheoesophageal puncture, which is basically a bizarre piece of plastic that has a valve that can move and when you close the air that comes out of your neck, where you breathe from, it pushes air into your esophagus, which causes it to vibrate, ”says Dr. Scott Howard, director of the Center for Voice, Respiratory and Swallowing, UH Cleveland Medical Center.

Placement is done in the office while the patient is asleep.

“Ten minutes after we’re done, they’re already starting to voice,” Dr. Howard said.

Last Saturday was World Voice Day, a moment allotted to appreciate more than just the sound of our voices. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders estimates that about 7.5 million Americans have problems using their voice.

Such violations include problems with pitch, volume, and quality; then there are those who lose their voices due to cancer, disease and injury. Thanks to medical innovations, many can speak after laryngectomy, a procedure that allows survivors to breathe through a surgically created hole in the front of the neck and speak through a voice prosthesis located between the trachea and esophagus.

On Thursday, April 14, the ENT Institute of University Hospitals and the Seidman Cancer Center conducted a unique virtual program that will bring together patients who have undergone life-changing operations on the vocal cords with UG surgeons.

During the hour-long event, surgeons gave personal insights into laryngectomy procedures and voice rehabilitation. Patients with laryngectomy UH and film director Bill Brammel – himself a patient with laryngectomy – will discuss what it is like to live with laryngectomy.

An Emmy-nominated and Peabody Award-winning documentary filmmaker, Bramel lost his ballot box in 2016 after long-term exposure to tonsil cancer resulted in irreversible scars on his larynx. “Do you hear my voice?” showcases members of the London Choir Shout at Cancer choirs who have all undergone this procedure to cure vocal cord cancer.

There is still time to watch the webinar and access the documentary.

UH World Voice Day webinar:

Meanwhile, there are some things you can do to take care of your voice:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Quit smoking
  • Don’t shout or force your voice when it feels weak
  • Get relief from acid reflux
  • Listen to your voice and seek help if you have difficulty speaking or swallowing
  • Avoid fizzy drinks
  • Avoid the urge to cough or cough
  • Give your voice a rest
  • If you suffer from temporary hoarseness that lasts more than two to three weeks and does not improve, seek medical attention. Especially if you do not smoke or have cold symptoms.
  • Note that school teachers have the highest level of voice problems: an average of 60% say they have had such problems
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