Saturday, June 08, 2013

A Voice Apart

Vocal Paresis - The Causes and Consequences

More and more, in my practice of close to four decades, I'm hearing about the devestating vocal disorder - Vocal Paresis also known as Vocal Paralysis.
The interesting thing is that a lot of other vocal disorders are usually caused by speaking and/or singing in the wrong and often aggressive way.
Vocal Paresis, as well as Spasmodic Dysphonia (a future blog), more often have additional reasons to occur.
Lately, especially, I hear a lot about some kind of a virus, or even a simple cold, had produced vocal paresis on one or even both vocal cords.
When a person is under a lot of stress, their immune system subsides, which means that they become more susceptible to all kinds of infections, colds, and viruses.

A couple of years ago, a client from Atlanta, Georgia came with one paralyzed vocal cord, which occured after he experienced a really severe strep throat condition.
However, this person was a pastor who travelled internationally, giving speeches and leading worship conferences employing his singing voice as well.
So in this instance, the cause of the Vocal Paresis was not only the Strep Throat, but also the wear and tear on my former client's vocal anatomy, as he definitely did not use his voice properly and thus abused his vocal anatomy.

So the "marriage" of the two conditions resulted in Vocal Paralysis.
In his case, his throat was the organ which he used the most, due to his profession, and that's why it became the most vulnerable target.

We also had a former client who was a prfoessional Rock singer, and in the middle of his recording, his voice snapped.
However, he continued pushing it to the max until he could not push it any longer.
He underwent 3 operations and at the last operation, was offered a synthetic device to be implanted on his right vocal cord.
That device, along with the previous voice abuse, paralyzed his vocal cord for good.
That's when he came to see me. 
I was able to fix his speech, but I was not able to recover his singing voice in the capacity which it had been before.
However, with great difficulty, I was able to produce some improvement.

When the vocal cord is paralyzed, by my method, I restructure the voice in a different set of muscles and do everything in my power to go around the actual injury.
However, on the other hand, the vocal cord itself needs some sort of "physiotherapy", vocally speaking, and I need to produce some flexibility and movement on that cord, which by itself is very challenging, but not impossible.
The fact is, that the inital sound has to go off of both vocal cords, therefore, the movement of both vocal cords is required.
However, depending on the severity of paralysis, I can always make the healthy vocal cord compensate for the ill one, and make the sound primarily go off of that one.
The next step is to direct the sound to the set of facial muscles, which will amplify it quadruple times over provided that the abdominal muscles are employed to the max (especially in the case of Vocal Paresis) to help the sound to reach its destination.

There are other bizarre accidents that people described to me which also caused vocal paralysis and greatly affected their speech (one of them included a chainsaw gone wild during a construction accident!) 
So, there are many circumstances which could produce this nasty condition, the consequences of which,  unfortunately, could cause a devastating vocal disability.
However, on a positive note, it can definitely be improved, and in some cases, quite significantly.

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