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2015 

August Spasmodic Dysphonia Treatment Clinic 2015

 

Matilde:  Laryngeal Dystonia/Vocal Tremor, diagnosed January 2011 in Columbia, South America. Voice therapy, botox injections December 2012 and April 2013 without significant improvment, tried alternative treatments such as massage, acupuncture, Reike, biofeedback and naturopathic remedies. VHI was 79 (Severe).

 

Matilde stated that her voice improved 50% at the clinic, becoming clearer and higher in pitch. She felt that others understood her better by the end of the clinic. "I would say that if they are willing to make the time to practice all we learned to recover the voice, the clinic is worth attending."

 

Nicole: AB/SD diagnosed in September 2009, mild symptoms until December 2014 with rapid decline in voice production. Botox January of 2015 was not helpful. VHI score was 108 (Severe-Profound).

 

Nicole stated that her voice and breathing improved 60% at the clinic. "I am a practicing medical clinician. I spend my liife treating patients with medications, machines and technology. I have only very infrequently even considered holistic approaches to disease and healing. I was at first resistant to this idea, even at the onset of the clinic. As I worked through the exercises and listened to the lectures, I let myself relax and experience the power of the mind body connection and began to feel my natural voice emerging. 

 

It was so freeing. This, along with regular practice and voice exercises has me well on my way to finding and using the voice God gave me. I could never have gotten there without the tender and caring love and support of the team members associated with Free to Speak. I am forever grateful and I look forward to the process of speaking freely!! 

 

 

Roger: AD/SD, onset June 2013 by Dr. Gerald Berke. He had been having difficulty with GERD for 7 years and on medication.  As a professional singer, the reflux was affecting his singing voice and he had a Nissen Fundoplication operation in May 2013. The dysphonia followed. He tried acupuncture and botox, neither having the result he desired, which would be to return to singing professioally.  His speaking voice was less impaired than singing, therefore his VHI score was 36 (Mild).

 

"The program is very well researched and executed. Material covered is extensive and detailed, as well as professionally presented. Connie's background as a licensed and very experienced speech pathologist combined with her personal struggles with SD uniquely qualify her to offer help and support to her clients. 

 

I would encourage unreservedly, anyone who is suffereing from SD to consult with Connie if it is within their means - irrespective of what any MD or other speech therapist may have told them.

 

Thank you for everything."  

 

Angela: SD/MTD/tremor; diagnosed in 2009. Voice therapy helped her somewhat. Botox injection did not help.  VHI score was 115 (Severe/Profound). 

 

Angela felt that her voice improved 50% at the clinic as she became more aware of her posture and diaphramatic breathing. 

 

"The holistic approach is more beneficial than pursuing a single arm of improvement. The body and mind play large factors in breathing and the expression of one's voice. It is not just the vocal folds that need improvement for an effective speech pattern. 

 

The clinicians treat each person with care and support, treating not just the condition, but the whole person."  

 

Paul: Mixed SD/MTD; diagnosed October 1999 with a slow progession of tightness and strained voice over the past year. An ENT diagnosed him with bowed vocal folds as well. He initiated botox injections, which eased the strain but with wide swings in voice quality from breathy to easier, then tight again. He discontinued botox in 2001, preferring to have "a consistent, though imperfect, voice rather than the relatively wide swings." A collagen injection in 2002 to address the vocal fold bowing did not provide any significant improvement.  Paul managed until 2014 when he felt the tightness was worsening. A re-evaluation was suggestive of SD/MTD and slight bowing, for which he had a autologous fat injection, which gave him better volume, less spasm and less neck tension for several months. 

 

"As background, I was initially diagnosed with AD/SD in 1999. I am 66 years old. I intially took botox for about 2 years with variable results. Then I decided to stop. I followed that with treatments like acupuncture with mild, intermittent success until my teacher moved to Italy.  My tightness and strangled quality gradually progressed until the Spring of 2015. At that point, my voice dysfunction began to significantly impact my ability to communicate. Following a discussion with my local voice therapist, she recommended that I consider exploring the offerings of Connie Pike. I read her books that described her journey and holistic approach including breathing, emotional/psychological, and voice aspects. This clearly addressed the voice dysfunction from a different perspective than the previous model of laryngeal spasm and tightness with the only option being botox.  I decided to explore this model.

 

I arrived at the clinic hoping that I would be able to move myself from the tight strangled voice toward a more normal voice.  Upon initial evaluation, it was clear that I was breathaing ineffectively and inefficiently - actually trying to voice with no airflow.  Working with Dennis, I have been able to free my breathing mechanism for much freer breathing. Working with Christine, her energy during massage contributes greatly toward relieving the tension and tightness that have become significant as I have treid to compensate and push to produce voice. Connie, in addition to her inspirational story and supportive demeanor, has individualized techniques that have allowed me to produce a more functional voice. In addition. all of them  have given me tools which will enable me to continue this journey toward a more functional voice. 

 

The support and interaction of the other participants is invaluable - it changes what seems like an isolated, isolating journey into one that is shared and bonding. At the end of the clinic, I now know that I can have a voice that will allow me to communicate more effectively in the world. There will be a great deal of discipline. This will require vigilance regarding my overall health, posture, breathing, pitch, air flow and having my voice ride on that air flow.

 

If you are looking for a quick fix, this may not meet your goal. If you are looking at laying a foundation for your journey back toward a more normal voice and are willing to do the work to get there, I would encourage you to explore this option."

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Incorporated in 2005 by Connie Pike, a Speech Language Pathologist who overcame her own spasmodic dysphonia and developed a passion to help others do the same.

CREATED BY: JUSTIN MCMILLEN