Lisa Hildebrande, a school teacher from Pennsylvania, says her voice is very important to her work. She was “thrilled” to be able to speak without a struggle after six months of being hoarse, with the help of UMMC Senior Speech Language Pathologist Cara Erskine, Med, C.C.C.-S.L.P./A. Read Lisa’s story below.
What was your disease/condition?
I have Sjogren’s syndrome (an auto-immune syndrome that causes dryness in the mouth, eyes, nose, and throat). I often have long-term voice issues/hoarseness after a bad flare-up.
When and how were you diagnosed?
I was diagnosed after countless sinus infections, upper respiratory infections, pneumonia, stomach/reflux issues, difficulties swallowing and choking on food and hoarseness/loss of voice. I was diagnosed around 2000-2001 by my rheumatologist.
Who treated you?
Dr. Meyer evaluated and ran tests on me first, and then recommended that I see Cara Erskine for therapy.
What type of treatment/s did you receive?
Dr. Meyer used a scope to view and record the movements of my vocal cords. Cara gave me what I would call intense therapy. I was with her for about an hour each time we met. During our sessions she showed me how to strengthen my neck muscles. She had me doing many vocal exercises and she evaluated the pitch of my voice through a computer program. I was also given homework/exercises to do between sessions.
When did you have your treatment?
In the spring of 2007.
How did the treatments help you?
I was speaking clearly and without a struggle in about a month. I had been aphonic (loss of voice from disease or injury to vocal cords) before our meeting. I am a teacher and my voice is so important to my work. I was thrilled to be able to communicate without a struggle after about six months of being hoarse.
How did you feel about the care you received at the University of Maryland?
I got the results I desperately needed. The staff and doctors were all very kind and helpful.
What is your opinion of Cara, Dr. Meyer, and the other staff?
Excellent. I was desperate for help and an understanding of my voice issues, and they were able to help me. I now have exercises to do if I start to have a problem again. This should help me avoid long-term hoarseness/voice loss in the future.
Before Voice Therapy:
This is a movie of Lisa Hildebrande when she first came to the office. Please notice that her voice is hoarse and breathy. On the video of the larynx her vocal folds do not come together well and are actually taking an abnormal bowed posture.
After Voice Therapy:
This is a movie after voice therapy with Cara Erskine. Her voice has normalized and is no longer hoarse or breathy. The video of the larynx shows that the abnormal posturing of the vocal folds has resolved. They are now straight and come together normally allowing normal voice production.