Singing and Spastic Dysphonia
Here are the responses to the Spasmodic Dysphonia email I sent out Sunday
night. Thanks for all of the responses.
In my research I found an article about a procedure performed at UCLA
that severed the nerve that causes the spasms and reconnects to a
properly functioning nerve. Has anyone heard of this procedure and its
success rate with singers?
Yes, I did make contact with the Choral director that is married to an
ENT. Thanks to her for responding as well.
I live in Chicago and there is a wonderful clinic (here)....Bastian
Vocal Institute. Dr. Bastian specializes in vocal disorders, and the
has on staff is amazing. On the website it has a broadcast of an
with Dr. Bastian (one of the topics is spasmodic dysphonia). Dr.
has helped a few of my private voice students, and I know he is far
but perhaps may serve as a resource for you.
Crystal Lake, IL
I had a fellow singer suffer from the same problem. She too endured
Botox injections. In between injections she had a window of a few
weeks when she could sing in a manner approaching normal. It was
tragic as she was a highly accomplished musician who could
"sight-read the notes off the wall" and had grown up in a family in
which music was a huge, loving, enriching part. If you like, I'll
see if she would be willing to talk to your singer. I don't know
whether her news would be encouraging or depressing, but just talking
with someone who's "been there" might lighten the load for your
From a quick Google I found:
What are the features of spasmodic dysphonia?
In adductor spasmodic dysphonia, sudden involuntary muscle movements or
spasms cause the vocal folds (or vocal cords) to slam together and
These spasms make it difficult for the vocal folds to vibrate and
voice. Words are often cut off or difficult to start because of the
spasms. Therefore, speech may be choppy and sound similar to stuttering.
voice of an individual with adductor spasmodic dysphonia is commonly
described as strained or strangled and full of effort. Surprisingly, the
spasms are usually absent while whispering, laughing, singing, speaking
at a high pitch or speaking while breathing in. Stress, however, often
makes the muscle spasms more severe.
Perhaps singing is not totally out of the picture. Has she tried
on-line for information and resources?
In case he doesn't see this (although he's on this mailing listserv so
hoping he will!), try to contact Leon Thurman. He is kind of
specialist" on vocal rehabilitation and where/how to locate good doctors
work with professional singers on restoring their voices after
problems have set in. He is the "go-to-" guy in these instances he
definitely be my very first recourse in such a situation!
I'm sure Mr. Thurman will be able to help steer you to the appropriate
I'll say a prayer for your singer.
In Christ's service,
My hubby actually did a fellowship at Vandy--in otology--but I've met
Ossiff (sp?) and he has come up to Chicago to speak to the local ENT
organization and I've seen him there as well. The Botox is standard and
when it was first being used to for wrinkle relief, I was confused since
I've known about the vocal fold use since the 80s!
Anyway, am forwarding your post to hubby and we'll see what he says. I
think sending her to Ossiff is right on the money and the absolute
correct thing to do. If she can be helped, he is the right person to do
The man who wrote the book on voice use - literally wrote the book - is
Dr. Joseph Sataloff in Philadelphia. Julie Andrews was seen in his
office.....AFTER her surgery, as was just about every other professional
voice user you can think of. They have a voice team that coaches you
through getting back to normal, and they work closely with the patient
and doctor to make sure you are doing the right things.
Although I see a different doctor in this office, this is the only office
I would go to.
Their number is 215-545-3322
Try voice therapy. I've had dysphonia resulting from tonsillectomy
and my cords are approximating better, I'm louder and have gained range,
just 5 weeks. The specific treatment they gave me is Lee Silverman voice
treatment, and it has been used successfully with Parkinson's patients
lose vocal functioning. -Isabel
Once again thanks to all.