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Spasmodic Dysphonia

"Hi Mike,
I wanted to thank you again for working with me last night around my SD.  The voice I had when I left I haven't heard in years!  I spoke to my husband on the phone on the way home and he said my voice sounded like me and so clear.  I started crying because this is the first time I have heard myself in a long time.  I am going to keep working on these exercises and hopefully I will get to that place more and more.  Thank you so much again, you have been the only person who has really helped me at this point.  Hope you have a wonderful weekend!
Sarah  M" 

"Mike,
Thanks again for your time today. I feel like I'm making strides and staying positive through the SD ups and downs. It's great to hear my voice sound strong again. Peter S".

SLP report of a 5 day intensive with Mike

Important: SD, Stuttering, Laryngitis have very similar characteristics when you observe them from an Optimal Breathing perspective. Optimal Breathing techniques for SD work also for stuttering and laryngitis and general public speaking skills.

"Dear Mike:
My voice is doing fine. I appreciate the help that you provided me and learning about breathing as a factor in this illness". 

I was in the air conditioning that is pretty cold at her house, then we would go out into the heat  and walk or play golf, etc. I noticed after about a week that my voice started getting breaks in it, and I regressed to having difficulty...
I am careful to keep the breath support going, so it didn't worsen beyond the breaks.
I am back home now, and after just four days, I am back to being very strong again. I still get tired voice at evening, but am talking probably 1/4 of the day on the phone with almost no struggle. I am doing the exercises morning  and evening, and getting plenty of great raw food, fresh juice, love and rest.
I am singing a couple of hours every day, just fun little bits of songs and some singing exercises. My singing voice is getting much easier to control, and much stronger al the time. ...
I have recommended your services to several people with the condition I have had... I hope they contact you...  Love, Tedi"

In the 100+ cases I have worked with I have seen long term diagnosed cases of SD resolve in a day to a week's time. Achieving a perfectly smooth voice often can take months to completely resolve.  A very, very few (3-5%) never resolve but that may be more about their compliance and a reason some physicians believe it is permanent disorder.

BOTOX.
There is mostly no quick fix for SD. From my experience Botox is NOT the answer. It HAS helped but often makes things worse to no voice at all.  Plus it only addresses the symptoms, not the cause(s). My experience tells me to work on the breathing properly as soon as you can so as to minimize or eliminate the need for Botox and/or make it effective or more effective until it is no longer needed.  I have also read that Botulism can accumulate in the body. 

Abductor type

"Symptoms of a breathy and weak voice began in 1974 as an over-stressed undergraduate at Cornell University. There were many unanswered questions and much frustration in dealing with ENT Medical Specialists and Speech Pathologists until 1991 when I was diagnosed as having Spasmodic Dysphonia (SD). During most of the years between ‘74 & ‘91 SD had not even been a named disorder.

I applied and was accepted to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a participant in their research for treatment. The treatment for SD is local injections of Botulism Toxin (BOTOX) to alleviate the spasms of the laryngeal muscles needed for phonation. My laryngeal muscles upon speaking were spasming open, thus the breathy quality to my voice. The research project was thorough according to medical standards of the day. Some of the procedures were: complete history and physical exam , they checked my breathing/speaking pattern via electronic chest and belly bands in conjunction with audio tape recording of simultaneous phonation, laryngoscopy to view my larynx on a monitor as I spoke, and needle electromyelography (EMG) of my laryngeal muscles.

The treatment of injections of BOTOX were administered under general anesthesia, to one side of my larynx. I was released to go home the following day. Even though I was physically in shape and an athlete all my life, for three weeks following the procedure I experienced dyspnea (difficulty breathing) with minimal physical activity such as walking to the bathroom. I had been warned that drinking liquids may have to be done through a straw, which was indeed the case. The symptomatic relief, (increase in voice quality) lasted for 3 months and was minimal compared to the side effects of the treatment.

About this same time I began chiropractic care (specifically Network Spinal Analysis) for headaches and tight neck/shoulders associated with the compensations involved in poor voice use. To my delight I found that through this particular chiropractic care my voice had greater breath support. I continued with chiropractic care, and added various body awareness techniques to my repertoire, such as The Alexander Technique and The Feldenkrais Technique. These helped, but there was still a key missing, a lasting support system was still needed for my voice.

In reviewing my progress through the years, I realized that I was greatly helped whenever my breath expanded. My breathy, weak voice needed good sound, solid, continual breath support. I then came across ‘The Optimal Breathing Coach’, Michael Grant White and his "Optimal Breathing".

My first session with Mike was unforgettable. I came to him with all the excitement and fears anyone would have with having a ‘voice disorder’ for 24 years. My goal was to have a stronger, more resonant voice for normal speaking, public speaking and singing. The initial analysis, among many other things, consisted of where there were blockages and holding patterns in my neck, chest, and back. My first task was to get a baseline on singing. This was difficult, singing in front of a stranger, and was calling all stress receptors in my body to engage. My singing expressed itself as weak, breathy, and forced. As anyone with a voice disorder can relate, stress frequently makes your voice worsen. Yet, I was with Mike to get help, and I was ready to do most anything to assist Mike in helping me.

Over the next hour Mike worked with me in various ways. First I was on a special machine to move the energy throughout my body. Afterwards I felt a difference in my legs, but not much anywhere else. We repeated the gentle machine therapy at the end of the entire session that day, and I felt the energy flowing all through my legs, trunk and arms. This was quite a remarkable change. After the initial therapy I then moved to the massage table, where Mike verbally instructed and physically directed my inhalations to where I specifically needed them. This created such a new sensation in my body of deeper, fuller, more greatly expanded breaths. A wonderful start! My body had so much more energy flowing through it immediately.

The next step was to stand and learn where to bring my breath and make certain sounds. From this point I then used the newly expanded and deepened breath to sing. Oh! What a difference! And yes, there were habits that I needed to work out, but always with Mike’s gentle, persistent, encouraging guidance. While I was singing Mike worked on the blockages along my back, sometimes with pressure applied at specific points, other times by opening my shoulders/thorax so the breath had free clearance. It seemed to require a coordinated kind of action. At one point I was so happily overwhelmed with the resonance, strength, and ease of my voice that I stopped singing and proclaimed to my newfound Breathing Coach "You are a genius". I had never in my life up to that point experienced such vocal freedom, resonance, clarity and ease. What I had been told were permanent voice problems that I needed to work around, or bear with, are essentially mechanical faults in the coordination of my breathing.

I then built upon this success with learning to sing ‘in an arc’. With this technique one can speak across a football field without strain. I was in awe as to how my voice could perform....how far it could reach. The hour long session was exhausting, having to deal with old breathing habits, and the emotional ‘stuff’ that accompanies sub-optimal breathing patterns. Mike is well prepared and has wonderful direct ways of getting right through all of this while keeping the honor/respect of the client well intact.

Would I refer someone to Michael Grant White, ‘The Optimal Breathing Coach’? With no hesitation. You see, I am a Chiropractic Physician....and I am in touch with the body, its energy, blockages, and releases from a chiropractic standpoint. I have had many years experience working with positive changes in patients’ bodies. Since we breathe continually day in and day out the accumulative effects of sub-optimal breathing is very draining on the body-mind, yet on the other hand, the accumulative effects of OPTIMAL BREATHING are wonderfully regenerative to this same body-mind. Which would you prefer for yourself? I know now that it is through OPTIMAL BREATHING that I have the KEY to unlocking the potential in my voice and many areas of my life." Louise Cash, DC, Asheville NC.

Adductor types  (From Mike)
I strongly suspect SD to be a mechanical issue correctable by mechanical means. I do not believe that genetics can influence it beyond one's own self determinism.  If the person is mindful and CONSISTENT enough to make the change, spirit will prevail.   Simplicity and consistency are key.

My notes from a recent session with an adductor SD client.

This is more of what I am getting at with your SD that it is largely a diaphragm and breathing balance and sequencings issue that is caused by the breathing system of hips, pelvis, abdomen, thorax, diaphragm, internal organs, fascia, throat and jaw being squashed, bent, over tight and twisted in subtle ways that defy measurement but respond to unusual body positions that change the internal coordination back to where it works better......immediately.  Subtle shifts in the voice are the primary indicators for this. They initially may not be discernable to the maker of the sound who has lost their connection with the sound of their natural voice but a before and after tape recordings can help them hear the vocal changes if they cannot do so themselves.

We must of course have already opened up (via Optimal Breathing Releases - OBRs and strapping techniques, and others etc) the entire system to make the maximum change possible and ensure success. We then take the odd, sometimes threatening, invasive, distasteful (the prima donna pose, grotesque or foreign and possibly threatening body distortions etc) body positions and allow the breathing balance and sequencing to find it's own way by making sound concurrently with that "different" body positions. This happens often enough and the body reforms internally (unwinds) allowing the new way of sounding to become spontaneous while the ODD body position becomes less and less needed and we slowly revert back to healthy posturing and fuller easier stronger balanced breathing. The precise body positions are critical.

STUTTERING
Is almost identical in characteristic to SD. The more you expand the lung volume, un-gnarl the internal balance and sequencing and strengthen the speaking support system, the less people stutter. Pure and simple.

LARYNGITIS
We know that gold collects in the bends of a river. So do germs and bacteria collect in the bends and twists of the inside of the windpipe and throat. So when we untwist and open those passages we allow the cellular and bacterial debris to move freely and away. We also reduce the tendency of that material to collect as it did before.

SD seems to have several components such as self image, posture, diaphragm size and strength, diet, environment, erratic trunk, neck and pelvic muscular tensions going every which way, stress, patience and perseverance. Optimal breathing establishes and maintains a foundation of exhaled air flow of evenness and stability.  Then that which is above the breathing foundation including the mechanics of voicing can be fully and properly developed. With an optimal foundation comes sustainable progress. Without a proper foundation comes inconsistency, failure, Botox and surgery.

So I "fish" for what might be the more relevant of factors and then choose the ones that need the most attention because some are less important then others and simplicity and consistency are the keys.  Then one needs enough time to address what one discovers.  Relaxation is one of the MOST important but stress seems to beckon as a "necessity" for many.  They forget they have a choice. Extreme lifestyle changes are mandatory for many lest their ship hit the rocks yet again.  Breathing should be the first aspect to address for most. Voice quality problems that had resisted drugs and nutrition for months to years have improved or disappeared within hours to weeks using Optimal Breathing Techniques.  

I must respectfully decline our product recommendations for SD as I know how "tricky" it can be and I do not want ANYONE lost to failure using any of my techniques. There IS a way to eliminate SD  Recommended Program

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mike@breathing.com  1820 Sunhaven Ct, Charlotte, NC, 28262 USA
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The breathing improvement techniques, practices and products outlined in this publication are extremely gentle, and should, if carried out as described, be beneficial
to your overall physical and psychological health. If you have any serious medical or psychological problem, however, such as heart disease, high blood pressure,
cancer, mental illness, or recent abdominal or chest surgery, you should consult your health professional before undertaking these practices.

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