Finding Her Voice:
Voice Center Restores Teenage Patient’s Speech

 


NorthShore Voice Center patient Hannah Fusfeld

Imagine waking up one day and realizing that you lost your voice. In April 2013, 16-year-old Hannah Fusfeld woke up completely unable to speak. The De Pere, Wisconsin, high school honor roll student spent the next three weeks in bed suffering from severe mononucleosis, whooping cough and voice loss. Complications from her illness caused Fusfeld’s voice loss to continue for the next four months, even after she had regained her strength and energy. 

This period of silence took a toll on the bright, active teen, who had to enroll in a homebound study program and delay working her summer job. Fusfeld’s frustrations were compounded by her inability to fully communicate how she was feeling to the many specialists she saw before a family friend put out a call for help to her Chicago-area physician colleagues, who unanimously recommended the NorthShore Voice Center. 

Aaron Friedman, MD, treated Fusfeld as part of NorthShore Voice Center’s multidisciplinary team, a collaboration between laryngology clinicians and speech pathologists who specialize in the treatment of voice disorders. “I was treated like a member of their family; I was the most important person in the room,” Fusfeld said of the Voice Center staff. After the exam and review of her medical history, Dr. Friedman told Fusfeld and her parents that she would get her voice back that same day.

Next, Fusfeld worked with Christine Buth Martin, MA, CCC-SLP, the Voice Center’s lead therapist, who provides assessments and rehabilitation for patients with a variety of voice disorders. Fusfeld’s treatment involved laughter, something that had been missing from her life for quite some time, which released the muscles in her throat necessary to free her voice. “Christine put me at ease, because she saw this kind of issue every day. She made me feel like we were best friends,” Fusfeld said. 

Within 90 minutes she was talking again, and while her voice was initially hoarse, it quickly returned to normal. Fusfeld and her parents were amazed. “One of the gifted things that Christine was able to do with Hannah during the 90-minute session was identify the stress of being ill, the sadness, and the losses she experienced as a result of being removed from her element for so long,” Fusfeld’s mother, Bonnie Lee, said of the treatment. Her father, Bob Fusfeld, added that “this was not a miracle; the therapist understood exactly what was wrong with Hannah and what she needed to do to get better.”

Fusfeld is one of many grateful Voice Center patients who have regained full functioning of her voice. Her positive treatment experience at NorthShore Voice Center confirmed her desire to become a physician, a goal she is certainly well-positioned to reach–making the honor roll despite missing school for three months. “I have experienced helplessness firsthand, and I’ve also had the experience of healing and regaining my sense of self,” said Fusfeld. “It’s nice knowing that if something goes wrong again, there’s a network at NorthShore I can see.” The NorthShore network, including NorthShore Voice Center, benefits from your unrestricted philanthropic gifts. Thank you for helping Hannah find her voice.

 

 

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