Dave Walsh

How I got cured of my Spasmodic Dysphonia with Dr. Mort Cooper.August 23, 2010

I’m a voiceover actor and have been living with Spasmodic Dysphonia for over ten years. Since my voice is my livelihood, being struck with this condition severely compromised my career, my self-esteem and self-confidence about this business that I love. Prior to working with Dr. Cooper, my life was filled with vocal struggle and pain, surgeries, several misdiagnoses as well as personal, financial and professional loss. What was once a thriving existence turned into a bleak day-to-day challenge that left very little hope or positivity [sic].

Over the years, several well-intentioned voice teachers taught me that performers who were successful in voiceover spoke with a lower pitch and a good amount of gravitas. As such, I worked extensively every day to achieve that deeper voice by forcing a rasp into my throat to make it sexier (which Dr. Cooper has described as a vocal “image” or “identity”.) It did indeed make me very successful. However, that “quick fix” soon brought me trouble.

My voice started to feel strangled and failed frequently in recording sessions.

Over four years, I consulted over a half dozen medical practitioners, including radiologists, ear, nose and throat specialists, gastroenterologists and speech pathologists, none of whom, except Dr. Cooper, was able to accurately diagnose my condition (of SD). Rather, I was told my vocal loss was due to everything from a deviated septum, postnasal drip, stress, acidic diet and laryngeal reflux disease caused by a Hiatal Hernia (I had this corrected via stomach surgery which did nothing to cure my vocal loss – as was guaranteed by the surgeon.)

My SD was diagnosed at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, where I was told it was neurological and incurable, with the only treatment being Botox injections into the vocal chords every 12 weeks. The only known side effect was that the injections would render me mute for weeks. Me, a voice actor, mute. I said no.

While I was despondent at the thought of having an incurable neurological condition like SD, Dr. Cooper became a bright light in that very dark tunnel. He immediately pinpointed that my vocal problem was never due to reflux, bad eating habits or stress. It was simply because I was speaking incorrectly from my lower throat which, after years of abuse, had strangled my vocal chords.

His non-invasive form of therapy, called Direct Vocal Rehabilitation (DVR), is the “real deal”. It is so simple but, admittedly, hard at first to execute. It involves finding and speaking on the oral and nasal resonance in the voice that includes proper breath techniques and making your face “buzz” (resonate) when speaking. I have been able to put my voice “up in the face” so that my entire face, or mask, is humming. It has worked beautifully.

While I am cured of Spasmodic Dysphonia, I continue to work with Dr. Cooper occasionally to make my professional voice stronger and more competitive. People have commented how amazing and pleasing it sounds. I have also had the pleasure of working with and listening to other patients in the office.

Dr. Cooper believes that working in groups helps patients recover faster. I couldn’t agree more. In this environment, we immediately identify when someone is not speaking in their face, or their breathing is reversed. I have found it very helpful and rewarding for me personally to be able to help other people. Through Dr. Cooper’s simplistic and non-invasive DVR therapy, I have regained control of my physical, mental and spiritual health and see that light at the end of the tunnel shining brighter than ever.

I have seen and experienced firsthand how patients’ lives have been changed and brightened for the first time. The remarkable transformation of my personal mental and emotional state since working with Dr, Cooper cannot be emphasized enough.

He is that rare specialist who can directly relate to the condition of his patients in that he, too, was a victim of Spasmodic Dysphonia. However, unlike today, he had no expert to help cure him of this disorder and, literally, taught and cured himself. Truly remarkable. Dr. Cooper is living, breathing, proof that, in this patient’s individual circumstance, SD is curable, is not a neurological condition and can be treated non-invasively.

Dave Walsh