The Department of Otolaryngology, Center for Voice, Airway and Swallowing Disorders and Institute of Regenerative and Reparative Medicine will celebrate World Voice Day April 16 from 12:30-2:30 p.m. at OddFellows Gallery, 1036 Broad St., with “Tiny Worlds: Big Problem,” an art exhibition that includes patient art projects.
The World Voice Day exhibition, an artistic exploration of the voice and airway, will be on display at OddFellows Gallery April 12-30, and will then be moved to Georgia Regents Medical Center. Faculty and staff who have created art related to the voice and airway are invited to display their work at the exhibit.
World Voice Day, an annual worldwide event to celebrate the phenomenon of voice, recognizes the vital importance of the voice in our daily life, both as a communication tool and an application to numerous sciences, including physics, psychology, phonetics, art and biology. This year’s theme is “Connect with Your Voice.”
“World Voice Day was started in Brazil to increase awareness of larynx (voice box) cancer in physicians and patients,” said Dr. Gregory Postma, Director of the Georgia Regents Center for Voice and Swallowing Disorders and GRU Professor of Otolaryngology. “It’s developed since then to all people who use their voice professionally. Most all of us are professional voice users, in one way or another. People aren’t aware of what an extraordinary handicap it is for people who have difficulties with their voice.”
Pediatric and adult airway patients, who either have no voice or lost their voice completely at some point, will create self-expressed art pieces at OddFellows Gallery, led by trained artists from GRU’s Summerville campus, high school art students and award-winning local artist Jill Stafford. The art will be displayed as part of the World Voice Day exhibition.
The event came about as an extension of the research being done at GRU by Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology Dr. Paul Weinberger, which centers on regenerative medicine and airway reconstruction. He noted a unique artistic aspect to some of the materials being studied. Weinberger’s clinical practice focuses on voice and airway patients. “If someone has unexplained hoarseness for two weeks or more, they are encouraged to visit an otolaryngologist, also known as an ear, nose and throat physician,” Weinberger said.
“That’s been huge for cancer issues,” Postma said. “So many of our patients have been hoarse for six or nine months and no one ever looks (at their throat). Then we look at them, and they’ve got a medium to a large tumor. If we had seen them five or six months earlier, there’s no telling how small it might have been. So we really like to see people earlier rather than later. In our practice in Augusta, we see more benign growths than cancerous growths, most commonly in singers, pastors and teachers.”
Otolaryngologists play a special role in the treatment of voice disorders. The evolution of physicians’ ability to diagnose and treat voice disorders has accelerated during the last few decades. Technological innovations have improved the ability to visualize the larynx and measure physiological functions involved in voice production. Endoscopic images can now also be seen in high-definition, making the diagnosis of even subtle abnormalities easier. In addition, the collaboration between otolaryngologists and speech-language pathologists has resulted in better and more comprehensive care for patients.
If you’re having difficulty swallowing or experiencing problems with your voice, contact the GRU Center for Voice, Airway and Swallowing Disorders at 706-721-4400. To display your artwork in the exhibit, contact Kathy Schofe at 706-446-4802.