Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Speech Prosthesis

Here’s another modern contraption that makes life much easier for people with special needs than it would have been in the past.

A few years ago my friend, Pete Kinney, had his voice box removed (a total laryngectomy) because of cancer and now uses a Blom-Singer Voice Prosthesis, which was invented in the 1970s by Doctors Blom and Singer. He has agreed to share his experience with the device here.

Pete says:

“The reason why I got it, is because my voice box was removed. So there are only a couple of options that will allow me to talk. I have a small plastic piece inserted in my throat.

“In normal people air goes to the lungs and food goes to their stomach from the mouth. In my case food still goes in my mouth, but I have a hold at the base of my neck for air. The two passages are entirely separate. There is skin that separates the two passages. So in the wall the doctors implanted a small plastic device. Normally it is closed... But if I stop the air flow out of my lungs by closing the hole at the base of my neck... and breath out.. the air is forced thru the plastic device and comes out my mouth. And then I can talk! ”

Did you need to learn to use it? “I did it by just practicing”

Will it last indefinitely or will you need to get it replaced in the future? “The plastic piece gets changed out every year or so.”

Can you speak normally with it or is there a difference between the way you talk now and the way you used to speak?

“My speech is much different now.”

What difference has it made in your life to have that device?

“Being able to talk has been a thrill. It took over a year to go thru surgery, chemo and radiation and for the skin to heal so the doc's could install it.”

I’m thankful to Pete for sharing this information and hope it will be helpful to other people.

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