UCNI Neurosensory Specialists Join Chorus of World Voice Day

Photo of Sid Khosla, MD, by Dan Davenport/UC Academic Health Center Communications Services

What if you lost your voice? Really lost it? What if you opened your mouth to speak and no sound came out? What if your voice could not be heard, could not be counted, could not rise up in song?

“The voice is one of those gifts you don’t miss until you don’t have it,” says Sid Khosla, MD, Director of the UC Health Voice and Swallowing Center and a voice specialist at UCNI’s Neurosensory Disorders Center. “The voice is what connects us to each other in so many ways. The voice is beautiful, mysterious, and it has power on its own. You share your voice, you find your voice. For a lot of us, our voice is who we are. If we lose it, we lose our identity.”

On April 16, for the first time, Dr. Khosla, his colleagues and collaborating UCNI physicians will celebrate World Voice Day with a free educational symposium. The program, to be held from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Manor House Banquet & Conference Center in Mason, Ohio, is designed for people who use their voice professionally and for those challenged by voice disorders. (Registration and continental breakfast begin at 8 a.m.)

Dr. Khosla and his colleagues at the Neurosensory Disorders Center treat hundreds of patients each year – from those who require therapy or behavioral modification to those who benefit from complex surgical reconstructions. Dr. Khosla proudly describes a patient who, unable to talk for 35 years because of a larynx problem, regained her voice after reconstructive surgery.

Speakers at World Voice Day will include experts from the multi-disciplinary UC Health Voice and Swallowing Center, including Dr. Khosla; Bernice Klaben, PhD, and Eva van Leer, PhD, speech pathologists; Andrew Duker, MD, a neurologist with the James J. and Joan A. Gardner Family Center for Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders; and Brendan Kelley, MD, a neurologist with UCNI’s Memory Disorders Program. Liz Bonis, News Anchor and Medical Edge reporter for Local 12 WKRC, will moderate a panel discussion featuring former patients who overcame a voice disorder. In keeping with this year’s theme, “We Share a Voice,” the program will feature singers from the UC’s acclaimed College-Conservatory of Music, which recently was named an Ohio Center of Excellence in Music and Theatre Arts.

The need for more education dawned on Dr. Khosla while he was working with people with Parkinson’s disease. “Patients didn’t know about the newer techniques of voice therapy,” he says. “Over the years I’ve felt that patients could be better educated about the voice.”

Those affected by voice disorders fall into several categories. They include people with Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders whose voices fade or falter as their disease progresses. They include aging adults, whose ability to talk on the phone or socialize in restaurants may be compromised as their voice becomes breathier. They include singers and actors, whose voice is the essence of their work. And they include other professionals who use their voice constantly – and sometimes ill-advisedly – such as teachers, lawyers and clergy.

“The teachers — especially elementary teachers – are at higher risk,” Dr. Khosla says. “Elementary school teachers are 38 times at greater risk of developing a voice disorder than the general population. One-third misses at least a day a year because of a voice problem. You can imagine an elementary school teacher desperately trying to maintain control.”

World Voice Day will embrace a message of prevention and protection.

  • Avoid yelling and screaming.
  • Keep your voice hydrated.
  • Consult a voice specialist if you have a voice problem for more than three weeks.
  • Signs of a voice problem include having to expend more effort to be heard, feeling pain in your voice, or finding that you are clearing your throat or coughing frequently.

Dr. Khosla describes himself as “a bona fide voice nerd.”  The larynx fascinates him, not only because of the beauty that it produces – he is passionate about music — but also because he finds it intriguing from an engineering point of view.

“In engineering systems, information and predictability are inversely related. So the more repeatable something is, the less information it can convey. But as we learn more about how the larynx produces sound, we see that it can make sound that is very complex but still have a high degree of predictability. It’s something you don’t find in engineering systems very often.

“There’s much we don’t know – how the voice works, how it vibrates,” Dr. Khosla continues. “In my lab we are looking for the mechanisms of how sound is produced, and we use this information clinically when we plan our approach to certain airway reconstructions. Many operations that we do are relatively rough for a device as complex as the larynx. So we strive, always, to become more perfect.”

Download a brochure about the World Voice Day Event »

Space is limited. To RSVP for this free event, please call (513) 475-TALK.

— Cindy Starr

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