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Leading Medicine Magazine, Vol 7, No 1 - 2013

Dr. C. Richard Stasney is founder of the Methodist Center for Performing Arts Medicine (CPAM), a comprehensive group of medical professionals who are able to provide preventive, diagnostic, specialty and emergency care to performing artists. simple overuse of the voice or acid refl ux,” he says. “The fi rst step is making sure you have the correct diagnosis.” Vandermeer was immediately assured that the correct diagnosis is exactly what he received. “I can’t say enough how important it was for me to get the right diagnosis,” he says. “I had no idea. I never had refl ux that I was aware of, never any symptoms. My symptoms wouldn’t have been so noticeable if I didn’t talk so much.” Stasney’s team worked with Vandermeer on breathing techniques that singers use to pace their voices through strenuous performances. “They told me to breathe more like a singer, not to talk with my throat but with my lungs,” Vandermeer says. “When I learned how to do that, it took a lot of pressure off my vocal cords and got me back on the right track.” Anyone with a voice problem can exacerbate the trouble by pushing through the discomfort. And it doesn’t have to be a singer or a radio announcer, Stasney says, who can suddenly fi nd themselves with little voice left. “It could be a fan screaming at a ball game, a priest or a rabbi during their respective holiday seasons, or even a lawyer who has given a four-hour deposition. Anyone can encounter voice problems,” Stasney notes. A comprehensive analysis of voice problems will include a computer analysis of samples of the speaking and singing voice to obtain an accurate “picture” of the voice. The analysis reveals vocal strength, the pattern and symmetry of vocal cord movement, variations in pitch and breath control, and voice breaks, among other conditions. Patients can be given exercises or medication to relieve symptoms and, in acute cases, surgery may be required to repair a leaky stomach valve or damaged vocal cords. “Treating hoarseness is only treating the symptom,” Stasney says. “You have to get to the real cause and, in many cases, it’s somewhere besides the throat and the vocal cords. “The worst thing you can do is tell people to stop talking and rest the vocal cords,” he continues. “For many, that’s cruel and unusual punishment.” For Marc Vandermeer, his job depended on the correct diagnosis and treatment. “You can’t exactly address the problem until you get the right guy to look at it, and I know I did that with Dr. Stasney,” he says. “We were able to work through the problem together,” Vandermeer continues, “and that’s a good thing. Because for me, not talking was not gonna happen.” n For more information, visit methodisthealth.com/cpam. 44 methodisthealth.com/leadingmedicine


Leading Medicine Magazine, Vol 7, No 1 - 2013
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