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New Treatment Center At GBMC Mending Broken Voices

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Mending broken voices. That's the specialty of a new treatment center opening at GBMC.

Alex DeMetrick reports it's care that takes more than just medicine.

It doesn't look or sound like a doctor's office, and that's the point.

"I feel I'm more at a voice lesson," said Teresa Wenck.

Wenck teaches music and voice at elementary schools, singing and talking five hours a day.  But that changed.

"I started suffering from chronic laryngitis and it would not go away," she said.

And like physical therapy following surgery, Teresa Wenck is healing with the help of vocal therapy conducted by trained opera singer Melissa Bidlack.

This music studio is only one part of the Johns Hopkins Voice Center at GBMC. There's also high-tech medicine.

"The idea is showing the patient this is what your vocal chords look like," said Dr. Chuck Fletcher, Johns Hopkins Voice Center. "Your voice is just this great instrument, but it's complicated and certainly can go bad in different ways."

And according to Fletcher, it isn't always illness or injury.

"It may be something that's more fundamental--how they're using their voice. It may be an issue of vocal strain, technique," he said.

And for people who sing for a living, it's wear and tear. But even if it's only singing in the shower, instruments donated by the Fender guitar company help mix music with speech therapy and medicine.

Because when a voice breaks: "It's hard," Wenck said. "You don't realize how much you use your voice just to communicate."

Besides singers, doctors say the professions with the highest rate of voice problems are school teachers, pastors and broadcasters.

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