April 21, 2016

Spasmodic Dysphonia

So, what is Spasmodic Dysphonia (SD) anyhow?  It

is a neurological disorder affecting the voice muscles in the larynx, or voice box. When we speak, air from the lungs is pushed between two elastic structures—called vocal folds or vocal cords—with sufficient pressure to cause them to vibrate, producing voice. In spasmodic dysphonia, the muscles inside the vocal folds experience sudden involuntary movements—called spasms—which interfere with the ability of the folds to vibrate and produce voice.

Spasmodic dysphonia causes voice breaks and can give the voice a tight, strained quality. People with spasmodic dysphonia may have occasional breaks in their voice that occur once every few sentences. Usually, however, the disorder is more severe and spasms may occur on every other word, making a person’s speech very difficult for others to understand. At first, symptoms may be mild and occur only occasionally, but they may worsen and become more frequent over time. Spasmodic dysphonia is a chronic condition that continues throughout a person’s life.

Male anatomy of human organs in x-ray view

My blog (see “Recent Posts” to the right of the page) provides info regarding SD and my experience with it: trying to figure out what was wrong with my voice, attempting to manage it with injections, and ultimately resolving it with surgery.   Other sources of valuable info are below.

For a concise, yet complete overview of SD types, causes, diagnosis, treatment and research, the NIH is a good place to start.

This provides a good overview of SD symptoms.

The National Spasmodic Dysphonia Association (NSDA) is worth checking out.  Its mission is to “advance medical research into the causes of and treatments for spasmodic dysphonia, promote physician and public awareness of the disorder, and provide support to those affected by spasmodic dysphonia“.

This somewhat academic/medical research-ish paper basically documents what anyone with SD already knows (in terms of implications for communication, etc) regarding their experience with SD.  However, if you have a geeky friend that wants to better understand what you’re dealing with, point them here.

This is also a bit of a detailed research paper that documents what a group of 6 people thought about use of  botox to address SD.  If you are considering botox injections and want details, it could be useful.

If the 2 links above got you salivating to geek out, maybe you would enjoy this searchable list of medical/academic papers on SD.

Scott Adams, the author of the Dilbert cartoon, had SD.  He wrote a book that, while not focused exclusively on his experience with SD, did comment on it.  Even if you don’t have SD, its a good read.  He has lots of interesting and useful insights on a broad spectrum of topics.  If you do have SD, I’d definitely recommend it, especially if you are considering SLAD-R surgery.  He was helpful in getting me to consider surgery.

By the way, I thought you may interested in a brief description of SLAD-R surgery.

If you are getting serious about surgery, and want more details regarding a day by day chronology of what really happens, I’d strongly recommend the 2 blogs below.

Erik Laurence documented his experience with SLAD-R surgery here and was kind enough to talk with me before surgery to let me know how things went, his results and what to expect.

Eric Yamamoto and I had surgery the same day.  His well documented account of things can be found here.

Image source: professionalvoiceblog.files.wordpress.com