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Voice and Swallowing Disorders

OVERVIEW

Voice and swallowing problems can develop for many reasons, from injuries and allergies to more serious conditions such as cancer. Wayne State University Physician Group offers convenient and comprehensive voice care using advanced technology and a personalized approach. Our patients receive top quality care from a laryngologist (otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeon with advanced training in voice, swallowing and airway disorders) and a speech-language pathologist with specialization in voice and swallowing disorders.

To refer a patient for specialty testing or treatment, call 248-357-4151.
 

WHAT MAKES THE VOICE AND SWALLOWING CENTER SPECIAL?

It is our philosophy that patients with voice or swallowing disorders are best evaluated jointly by a laryngologist and speech-language pathologist (SLP). Both specialists work together in our center in an interdisciplinary clinic.

We do our best to work with your insurance company to arrange for both evaluations to happen together in order to provide a plan that was developed collaboratively by both specialists.

To refer a patient for specialty evaluation or treatment, call 248-357-4151 (Southfield) or 248-581-5200 (Troy).
 

DISORDERS TREATED

The voice specialists at WSUPG are experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of a wide variety of voice disorders including:

  • Benign vocal fold lesions
  • Cancer and pre-cancerous lesions of the larynx
  • Congenital laryngeal malformations in adults
  • Laryngeal papillomatosis
  • Laryngeal trauma
  • Laryngopharyngeal reflux
  • Laryngeal stenosis
  • Muscle tension dysphonia
  • Paradoxical vocal fold motion ("vocal cord dysfunction")
  • Spasmodic dysphonia
  • Subglottic and tracheal stenosis
  • Vocal fold nodules
  • Vocal fold paralysis
  • Vocal fold polyps
  • Voice and swallowing disorders related to neurologic diseases
  • Zenker’s diverticulum
     

SPECIALIZED VOICE SERVICES

  • Laryngeal videostroboscopy analysis
  • Flexible endoscopic evaluation of swallowing
  • Laryngeal EMG
  • Voice therapy
  • Swallowing therapy
  • Breathing retraining techniques
  • Professional voice care
  • Trans-nasal esophagoscopy
  • Tracheotomy management
  • Botulinum toxin (e.g., Botox) treatment for spasmodic dysphonia and other dystonia in the head and neck
  • Laryngeal phonomicrosurgery
  • Passy-Muir® valve fitting
  • Laser surgery, both under general anesthesia and local anesthesia
  • Medialization thyroplasty and arytenoid adduction
  • Tracheoesophageal prosthesis voice rehabilitation
  • Vocal fold injection augmentation
  • Services include formal surgery under general anesthesia and also awake procedures under local anesthetic
    • Awake procedures include vocal fold injection augmentation, biopsies, and KTP laser for papilloma and pre-cancerous lesions

STATE-OF-THE-ART VIDEOSTROBOSCOPY

WSUPG offers advanced videostroboscopic examinations of the larynx for patients with vocal disorders. Our voice specialists perform this procedure in an office setting under stroboscopic light for a close-up analysis of each vocal fold vibration. This unique type of visualization allows for a precise assessment of vocal cord movement and identification of disorders. This technology also allows our staff to obtain detailed images and video of the patient’s larynx and vocal cords, which can be used to deliver a specific treatment plan in collaboration with a patient’s healthcare team.

WHAT IS VOICE?

The sound of a person’s voice is caused by air passing through the closed vocal cords setting them into vibration. Proper care and use of the vocal system improves the likelihood of having a healthy voice for an entire lifetime.

HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE A VOICE PROBLEM?

Hoarseness, breathiness, or a raspy quality to the voice can indicate a problem. Other symptoms include changes in pitch, loss of voice, reduced loudness, vocal fatigue and vocal effort/strain. These conditions initially require consultation with an otolaryngologist to rule out laryngeal pathology.

WHAT IS THE MOST COMMON CAUSE OF VOICE CHANGES?

Voice changes sometimes follow an upper respiratory infection and can last for up to two weeks. Typically, an infection causes swelling of the vocal cords, which changes vibration, resulting in an abnormal voice. Voice rest typically helps but if there is no improvement within two to four weeks after an infection, a medical evaluation by an ear, nose, and throat specialist is recommended.

A change in the voice lasting longer than two-four weeks should prompt evaluation by an otolaryngologist. This is especially important for smokers as this can be a symptom of throat cancer. Early detection by an ear, nose and throat specialist significantly increases the effectiveness of treatment.
 

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

The following questions can help determine if a patient has an unhealthy voice:

  • Has your voice become hoarse or raspy?
  • Does your throat often feel sore, achy or strained?
  • Does talking require more effort than usual?
  • Do you find yourself repeatedly clearing your throat?
  • Do people regularly ask you if you have a cold when in fact you do not?
  • Have you lost your ability to sing at higher pitch levels?

A wide range of problems can cause changes in a person’s voice. Call 248-357-4151 to schedule an appointment to see a specialist when voice problems persist.
 

HOW DO I MAKE AN APPOINTMENT

To refer a patient or to make an appointment for specialty evaluation or treatment, call 248-357-4151 (Southfield) or 248-581-5200 (Troy).
 

MEET OUR VOICE TEAM

OTOLARYNGOLOGISTS

Adam Folbe, M.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Wayne State University School of Medicine. Dr. Folbe treats all aspects of otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat diseases), but sub-specializes in diseases of the nose, sinuses and voice. He is an expert in surgery for chronic sinus disease, revision sinus surgery, cerebral spinal fluid leaks and anterior skull base tumors. Dr. Folbe also performs office-based surgery to treat voice disorders, such as vocal cord paralysis with in-office medialization techniques that do not require general anesthesia.

 

Ross Mayerhoff, M.D. is an Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and is a laryngologist, which is a specialist in the medical and surgical management of voice, swallowing, and airway disorders.

Dr. Mayerhoff helped to establish the Wayne State Voice and Swallowing Center in 2015.  Integral to this is interdisciplinary evaluation by both Dr. Mayerhoff and a speech-language pathologist who specializes in voice and/or swallowing disorders.  In addition to the clinic, Dr. Mayerhoff offers a complete spectrum of surgical management of diseases of the larynx (voice box) and related structures.  In many cases, he is able to offer minimally invasive procedures without the need for general anesthesia.  For each patient, it is Dr. Mayerhoff’s goal to ensure that he or she understands the nature of the disorder and what our next steps are to improve it together.
 
 

  

 

SPEECH PATHOLOGIST 

Deborah (Deb) Simpson, M.A. CCC/SLP is a Speech-Language Pathologist with the Wayne State University Physician Group Division of Otolaryngology. She received her Master of Arts in speech-language pathology from Eastern Michigan University and holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence in speech-language pathology. She is licensed by the State of Michiganand is a member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the Michigan Speech-Language-Hearing Association. She is trained in the latest advanced technology for voice and speech patients including videostroboscopy.

 

 

PATIENT TESTIMONIALS

Bob Drake, Age 66

As a professional voice over artist, Bob Drake is constantly improving his vocal storytelling skills. Providing commercial voice talent for well-known brands, Bob was understandably alarmed when he began noticing changes in his voice during recording auditions. His doctor told him that changes in voice can occur in some patients who use inhaled corticosteroids – a medication Bob was taking to control his asthma.

“Because of my line of work, I was really freaked out about these sudden voice changes. I don’t think my allergist really understood how much this could hurt my business,” said Bob, who was recording voiceovers four to eight hours a day. “I wanted to see if there was anything I could do beyond the medication. I wanted an ENT’s opinion.”

Bob then met with otolaryngologist Dr. Adam Folbe and speech pathologist Deb Simpson of the Wayne State University Physician Group. Together they worked with Bob to identify the issues that were causing his hoarseness and voice changes, as well as establish a treatment plan with exercises  to help train Bob’s voice to withstand the demands of his career.

“We set up some voice therapy sessions and from the very beginning it was a complete success,” said Bob. “Dr. Folbe and I were always on the same page in terms of what my concerns were. He listened, calmed my fears, gave me a plan and met – and even exceeded – my expectations.”

Today Bob has regained his vocal strength and range, and continues to use the techniques he learned to keep his voice going strong. Keep an ear out – you never know where you might hear Bob next.

Clyde Hopkins, Age 80

At the age of 79 years young, Clyde Hopkins wasn’t about to let voice problems get in the way of living his life to the fullest. “I was unable to talk in anything more than a whisper,” said Clyde. “It just kept getting worse.” Clyde began working with one doctor but wasn’t satisfied with the proposed results. He also wanted to avoid having to undergo surgery. Seeking a second opinion, Clyde made an appointment to see Deb Simpson, a speech pathologist with the Wayne State University Physician Group. Otolaryngologist Dr. Adam Folbe and speech and swallowing pathologist Dr. Mark Simpson were also part of the team that treated him. “I went through voice sessions with Deb Simpson where she taught me the proper way to breathe when I talk and how to pace myself,” said Clyde. “I wanted to avoid surgery. This took a little longer but I am very satisfied with the results. I now have 90 to 95 percent of my voice strength back.”

 

Wayne State University Physician Group Otolaryngology

Lahser Medical Building

27177 Lahser Rd., Suite 203

Southfield, MI 48034

For appointments call 248-357-4151