Treating Spasmodic Dysphonia

A few years ago Marge (not her real name) was having lunch with her daughter and grandson when she noticed that her voice sounded different.  She told her daughter that she felt as though her voice was “catching” in her throat.  At an annual doctor’s appointment a few weeks later she mentioned it to her physician who recommended that she see a specialist.  Eventually Marge was diagnosed with Spasmodic dysphonia (SD) a neurologic voice disorder that causes spasms in the muscles of the larynx, or voice box.

SD affects adults of all ages with patients often complaining of their voices catching in their throat, interrupting the fluency of speech. These spasms can be quite debilitating, but they can be temporarily treated by injecting Botox into the voice box muscles, weakening them enough so the spasms do not continue. To ensure these injections reach the correct location at the correct dosage so as to give relief for the longest possible time, an Electromyography (EMG) machine is connected to the injection needle. This allows otolaryngologists who treat SD with Botox to see muscle activity on a monitor and confirm the needle is in the right place to inject. Patients like Marge may need this treatment on average every three months depending on their preferences and the medication’s effect. 

In 2017, The Women’s Board bequeathed a grant to the Otolaryngology Clinic at Johns Hopkins to purchase the EMG machine they currently use. This equipment supports this more precise and safer option to treat the 100 plus patients annually who require these repetitive injections, giving them the ability to communicate effectively in a stronger and more fluid voice. This machine also has uses in patients with Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor in cases where these illnesses affect the voice.

Interview with Dr. Lee M. Akst

Carry On Shop

Check Out Stroll Guilford

In November and December, the magazine featured complimentary half page ads for the Carry On Shop.

Then in January, an article introduced the Women’s Board and the Carry On Shop to Guilford readers.  February Stroll Guilford expanded on the work of the Women’s Board, introducing board members, past and present, who live in Guilford. Readers were reminded that the Carry On Shop depends upon and gratefully accepts donations!  

The March issue highlighted grants and scholarships awarded by the Women’s Board in 2022 to Johns Hopkins.  Readers learned that the board has awarded, since 1927, over $25 million to Johns Hopkins, including more recently, a major grant for the Charlotte R. Bloomberg Children’s Center.  

The April Stroll issue will feature an article by Nathan Diennes, of the School of Medicine Development Office, beautifully describing the Carry On Shop, its varied merchandise and many customers, and introducing Sandy, John and other members of the faithful COS team.


A day in the life of the Women’s Board President

7:30AM Thursday morning. I overslept like every Thursday. Mid-week exhaustion! (It couldn’t be that I HAD TO watch more than 2 episodes of The Recruit last night). Luckily, Tuesdays and Thursdays are my days away from the office. You know, the days when I take Pilates and go grocery shopping …. at least that was the plan before meetings starting to creep in.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. It works like magic! For 10 years, you try to find your way from the hospital garage to where you’re supposed to go and then, on a fourth Monday in May, everyone acts like you know it ALL! Employee policies, lease agreements, who can set their third cousin’s pinky finger, the quirks of Treasury and the procedures from Hopkins Legal and Banking.

Every day is not that exciting. There are days when you are feeling low like when you try to settle differences between members, and you feel like you’re too old to remember your few parenting skills. And then you have the highs like when Redonda and Charlie call you on the weekend to tell you that you should monitor the refrigeration of coffee bars’ perishables. But hey, now you are on a first name basis with the Hospital President and the COO! The real high, though is to witness first-hand the accomplishments of this board and what 55 talented women can achieve, maneuvering through times of crisis and creating new business opportunities with an impressive record to show for it: 23 million donated to Johns Hopkins and counting.

Did I mention that I love this job? I will miss it, but I look forward to oversleeping on Thursdays.