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April 23, 2005



I was wondering the same thing. Here's what I found:

Robert F, Kennedy suffers from a vocal disorder known as spasmodic dysphonia. 15,5500 people in this country are afflicted with the condition.

The voice disorder gives a strained, broken or sometimes breathy tone to people who have the condition, who include Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and National Public Radio's Diane Rehm.

With spasmodic dysphonia, which is caused by the involuntary movement of muscles in the larynx, Botox injections can relax those muscles in the same way it relaxes the muscles in the furrowed foreheads of those who use it for cosmetic reasons.

Doctors have found that patients respond extremely well to Botox shots into the voical chords a few times a year and as a result did significantly better both socially and emotionally.

Emotionally is important, because people with the disorder can have voices that sound strangled or as if they are about to cry. Because the disorder is so rare, few physicians are familiar with it.

"It can be misconstrued as an emotional or even psychiatric disorder, but it's absolutely not that. It's a neurological-control disorder manifesting in the vocal cords," says Dr. Hogikyan, Director of the University of Michigan Vocal Health Center.

It can often take years for patients to be diagnosed correctly and get appropriate treatment. Many are reluctant to speak in public and find themselves becoming increasingly isolated.

"The number of suffers could be much larger because so many patients are misdiagnosed," says Robert McAlister, executive director of the National Spasmodic Dysphonia Association. "Botox is definitely the cat's meow when it comes to this disease."

Treatment temporarily disconnects the nerve-to-muscle signals and reduces abnormal muscle activity while still allowing normal speech.

Before Botox, patients either lived with the disorder or tried a surgical procedure that severed some of the nerves but didn't provide lasting benefit, Hogikyan says.

Barbara White

Just wanted to say that I too have Spasmodic Dysphonia. Obviously it hits anyone, no mater who they are but its good to see a man that keeps on going and not allow himself to be a victim. Just wondering if Rober Kennedy gets botox injections. Also has he ever considered surgery. I had surgery at UCLA with Dr. Gerald Berke (the doctor that developed the surgery) and it was extremely successful. No more spasms, no breaks, tremmors or breathiness. It doesn't work for everyone but with his money it surely wouldn't hurt to investigate the possbility.
Just a thought.

Barbara White AD/SD for 30 years, diagnoised for 3 years and recovered for four months.

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