talking are important parts of American culture, and almost every gathering
involves food, drink and conversation shared with loved ones. Thatís why voice
and swallowing disorders, even when treated effectively, can be so devastating.
"Our voice is
the way we engage with one another; itís our identity, and so much pleasure is
derived from eating. I feel like otolaryngologists and the field of medicine as
a whole could do a better job of helping patients regain the ability to talk
and swallow, particularly after surviving cancer treatment,Ē says Rebecca
Howell, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Otolaryngology at the UC
College of Medicine, member of the UC Cancer Institute and a UC Health
physician who specializes in treating voice and swallowing disorders.
With this in
mind, Howell is working with the UC Cancer Instituteís Comprehensive Head and
Neck Cancer Center and the UC Health Voice and Swallowing Center to collect
data on patient progression and early interventions for best outcomes.
expanding our practice with the addition of two more speech and language
pathologists, adding to our team of now two laryngologists (fellowship-trained
specialists in voice, airway, and swallowing)óme and Dr. (Sid) Khosla,Ē says
Howell, who just joined the practice and the UC faculty in the fall. "In
addition, weíve begun distributing a validated quality of life questionnaire to
every patient who comes to the Voice and Swallowing Center so that we have a
way to track their progress, regardless of their diagnosis.Ē
that for those patients who do not initially have trouble swallowing,
physicians are establishing points of care in which they can reassess the
patientís needs. In addition, by meeting with speech and language pathologists
during an initial evaluation session, the team hopes to increase awareness and
accessibility if patients begin to have problems with their voice or swallowing
during or after cancer treatment.
goal is to catch patients with problems early and to help them retain their
ability to eat and maintain their ability to communicate with less effort and
strain on the voice,Ē Howell says. "We donít realize how much we speak or swallow
on a daily basis until it becomes a problem. Weíve done such a great job in
medicine of improving survival, but we can really show we care by paying
attention to not only how long patients live but how they live, cancer-free.Ē
About Rebecca Howell:
Howell, MD, whose
research interest is in swallowing outcomes in head and neck cancer survivors
and establishing protocols for their care, is the first otolaryngologist in the
area with a specialized clinic focused on swallowing disorders. Clinically, she
sees both benign and malignant swallowing, voice and airway disorders. She has
additional training in outpatient transnasal esophagoscopy (a scope to see the
larynx, esophagus and upper stomach) and is the first in the Cincinnati area to
perform in-office (KTP) laser procedures to remove chronic, benign tumors from
the vocal cords. Howell sees patients in both the Clifton and West Chester
offices. To schedule an appointment, call 513-475-8400.
*This story was originally published in the March 2015 issue of Connected.