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October 2010 Spasmodic Dysphonia Treatment Clinic
BJ – AD/SD, MTD 2 years: Prilosec for LPR, s/p thyroidectomy, 6 day treatment with Morton Cooper 2010.
I have always been one to search for the natural approach or alternative to healing and the diagnosis of Spasmodic Dysphonia with no known cure is proving to be no exception. I have just completed Connie Pike’s 5 day “Voice Rehabilitation Workshop”.
I found the group process to be extremely beneficial in ways that only an SD sufferer can appreciate. All six of the participants were in the same boat wanting to get our voices back. The group offered positive support for each other’s efforts and sincerely encouraged voice transition which made the experience invaluable to me.
Connie’s “holistic” approach offers a tool box full of exercises for freeing the voice, computer software to hear your improvement, instructions to change ineffective breathing patterns, keys to recognize and change negative thought patterns, and then replace them with affirmations that promote calmness and healing. Books, balls, kazoos, massage and on and on. I feel that I arrived home equipped with all I need to be “Free to Speak” including follow up sessions and further communication to ensure continued support.
Anyone suffering from SD or any other form of voice problems will, without a doubt, find the “Free to Speak” workshop beneficial, supportive, fun, enlightening and a wealth of discovery and information that can only be gained through this unique experience.
Barbara– AD/SD with symptoms since 1992 at age 65, diagnosed after several years visiting various ENT doctors and had regular botox treatments every 3-4 months for 18 years. Botox was successful in managing the condition until an unusual complication in July 2009 resulted in severe breathing problems requiring hospitalization in the ICU and treatment with steroids and oxygen. Previous voice therapy had been unsuccessful.
My voice improved significantly at the clinic as I learned to use a higher pitch and to “hardly work” instead of working too hard (to produce voice). I gained sufficient knowledge to continue to improve on my own. Spending 5 days with people who have SD like myself was invaluable. It was a challenge and an experience to have instructors who understood SD and were eager to help me “re-train” by bad habits and encourage me in everything. I did not come to the clinic for a “cure”. I came for help to deal with this disease. Hopefully, with all I have been taught, exposed to and practiced, that I can now help myself with diligent attention, especially to “hardly work”, breathing and using quiet conversation. I have hope now that I don’t need to drive myself. I can become a better listener, and speak again and be understood.
Jan – AD/SD, onset in 2004 after a bout of laryngitis, diagnosed with SD in 2006, Botox 2006-07 with minimal success, voice therapy.
My voice improved 80% at the clinic. I found my “groove”, improved breathing, became aware of my high stress level, and acted to identify and lower my triggers, while identifying tools and strategies to help my voice. Connie and Dennis are extremely knowledgeable and communicate well. Christine was also very helpful. I now want to learn yoga! I appreciated the structure of the clinic schedule: the group and individual sessions and the time to practice what we learned.
The 5 day clinic was a great way to learn all the tools available to me to help with the rehabilitation of my voice. Connie and Dennis helped me learn voice and breathing techniques to help me find my correct pitch and I became aware of how other aspects of my life affect my voice. I learned through the workshop how to make adjustments according to my needs. I highly recommend this clinic for anyone wanting to learn a holistic approach to empowering them to overcome SD. Feel free to contact me at if you would like more detailed information about my experience with the clinic.
Karen– Vocal tremor one year preceded by hoarseness and difficulty speaking since 2006 and head tremor 2005. Pharmaceutical management, 3 Botox treatments.
My voice improved 70% at the clinic, with better quality and less tremor. The clinic exceeded my expectations. Meeting and talking with others with similar voice conditions is an empowering experience. The six in our group became a team that provided support, communication partners, humor and friendship.
A day of assessment provided the information needed for the holistic approach to begin working on each voice condition. I felt the commitment of Connie and Dennis to help me overcome the barriers to my voice production. This relaxing, but organized experience gave me the tools to improve my voice and provided recognizable improvement during the clinic.
The clinic has been extremely helpful to me and has given me the faith that I can use the tools provided and the follow-up sessions to greatly improve my voice.
Russ – AD/SD diagnosed in 2005; voice therapy, Botox, surgery for vocal polyp August 2010, reflux medication.
My voice improved 70% at the clinic as I learned to focus on pitch and resonance and decreasing tension in the chest and throat muscles. I learned techniques to make breathing easier and to routinely breathe correctly. Observing others participating and observing their improvement and determination provided much assurance that SD can be overcome. The techniques for improving the voice were excellent and the work sessions provided the hands on exposure we need.
Lisa – AD/SD October 2009 following a severe sinus infection, diagnosed at Vanderbilt September 2010. Botox was recommended but declined.
This clinic is an option for SD patients. It is important for all newly diagnosed SD patients to try this option before jumping on the Botox bandwagon. The medical community looks at no other options or strategies for treatment and we have seen and heard the differences in our voices during the clinic. All the “Pike” techniques seem to give you your voice back. Of course, I will continue to practice all the strategies and techniques as I feel improvement will continue. I know my old voice will not come back but my new voice works and will get stronger!
We covered many areas and they all seem to work together to improve the voice quality. When I see how far some of Connie’s previous patients have progressed after a few years of practicing, I am even more encouraged.
Thank goodness a friend (with SD who lives in Birmingham) gave me Connie’s book and the hope it offers. Thanks to Connie, Dennis and Christine for completing the circle of information.