Spasmodic dysphonia (SD) is a voice disorder that leads to strained or choked speech. Current therapeutic options for treating SD are very limited. SD does not respond to conventional speech therapy and is treated primarily with Botulinum toxin injections to provide temporary symptom relief. There is no cure for SD.
Jürgen Konczak, Ph.D., School of Kinesiology professor and director of the Human Sensorimotor Control Laboratory (HSCL), is the primary investigator of a $776,000 NIH R01 award to examine a new approach to treat the voice and speech problems of people with SD.
Vibro-tactile stimulation – A novel behavioral therapy
Vibro-tactile stimulation (VTS) is a non-invasive neuromodulation technique that our laboratory developed for people with SD. In a preliminary research, our team documented that a one-time 30-minute application of VTS can result in measurable improvements in the voice quality of people with SD.
A clinical trial study to assess the effects of VTS
In a new research study funded by the National Institutes of Health, we now investigate systematically the possible longer-term benefits of this approach for improving the voice symptoms of people with SD. Study participants will administer VTS at home by themselves for up to 8 weeks. Researchers will assess their voice quality and monitor the corresponding neurophysiological changes in the brain using electroencephalography in the laboratory at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of the VTS in-home training. The findings of the study will inform patients and clinicians on the possible impact of this therapeutic approach. It could promote the development of wearable VTS devices that would enlarge the available therapeutic arsenal for treating voice symptoms in SD.
Other members of the interdisciplinary research team include Dr. Peter Watson, a voice disorder specialist, and Dr. Yang Zhang, an expert in the analysis of cortical activity during speech. Both are faculty in the U of M Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences. Dr. Goding from Otolaryngology represents the clinical partner in the team. He is an expert in SD and treats these patients regularly in the U of M Lion’s Voice Clinic. Dr. Divya Bhaskaran, Dr. Naveen Elangovan and Arash Mahnan from HSCL will complement the team.
Arash Mahnan Dr. Divya Bhaskaran Prof. Juergen Konczak
Dr. Jürgen Konczak, Ph.D., Professor in the School of Kinesiology is the principal investigator of the study. If you would like further information, please contact the study coordinators Dr. Divya Bhaskaran, Ph.D., (phone: 612-625-3313; email: firstname.lastname@example.org) or Arash Mahnan, M.S., (phone: 612-625-3313; email: email@example.com).