What is Spasmodic Dysphonia?

Spasmodic dysphonia (SD), a focal form of dystonia, is a neurological voice disorder that involves "spasms" of the vocal cords causing interruptions of speech and affecting the voice quality. SD can cause the voice to break up or to have a tight, strained, or strangled quality.

NSDA news

NSDA Blog: Patient-directed manual therapy may minimize symptoms of SD

Manual therapy and its potential benefits have not historically been used on disorders thought to be influenced by soft tissue tightness, neural tension, and responses to changes in autonomic tone. Myofascial release (MFR) however has been shown to be a safe, hands-on technique that involves applying gentle and sustained pressure to help reduce symptoms of dysphonias.   More...

In the case of SD (spasmodic dysphonia), the practitioner relies on the patient to help direct the treatment by applying slow and gentle palpitations throughout the neck region, attempting to locate areas that replicate familiar aspects of the patient’s own SD symptoms. In essence, they are trying to replicate the symptoms without the patient ever having to speak, in an attempt to pinpoint the area in the neck that needs treatment. Once identified, the practitioner targets that area with manual therapy to help alleviate symptoms over time.

MFR therapy is a slower and less abrupt form of intervention and should not be painful. The treatment does not work for everyone. However, if during the evaluation, the initial treatment shows promise, the patient should experience symptom improvement within 3 sessions. Once the evaluation is complete and treatment has started, the patient is provided with stretching that they can do at home to augment the sessions with the therapist. These stretches are intended to be performed as a part of ongoing treatment program by a trained and licensed manual therapist.

The great news is that a growing number of practitioners have received MFR training for the evaluation and treatment of SD and related dysphonia conditions. (A list of over 200 trained professionals can be found here.) Each person suffering with SD is different and the appropriate treatment option is as individualized as their symptoms.

That’s why it’s important that the NSDA continue to deliver messages of hope and treatment alternatives. To get a complete list of SD treatment options, check out our website.


NSDA Blog: Creating Your Best Year Ever

Living with Spasmodic Dysphonia (SD) can impact all areas of your life.  We would like to encourage you to use this new year as a new beginning.  By assessing each area of your life and creating a plan to impact each area can help create a more positive outlook on living with SD.  That’s why we are sharing a simple worksheet on building a new year’s resolution that centers around enhancing your life as it relates to SD. Download it here.   More...

But let’s be honest.  New year’s resolutions often go to the wayside once life gets in the way.  In fact, one stat says that says that 80% of those who make a resolution will have given up by the first week of February.  Since we want you to have a great 2018, we decided to scour the Internet for advice on how to make and keep those resolutions.

Billionaire Richard Branson writes down his resolutions.  Whether on paper or in your phone, the act of documenting a resolution helps it stick better then thinking it.  Include short and longer term goals and then check them off when completed.  It’s important to celebrate the little wins and feel that sense of accomplishment.

Tony Robbins, a business and life coach, goes a step further. If you want a resolution to stick, you need to have a clear and concise plan.  It needs to include what you want to accomplish, why you want to do it, how it will be accomplished, and tools and resources that you need to make it all happen. It’s also important to review the goal every day to enhance your spirit of renewal.  

According to Popular Science Magazine, make sure your goals for 2018 are concrete enough that they can be broken down into smaller bite size pieces.   It is hard to feel accomplished when a goal is abstract.  Also, pair your new goals to something that happens automatically each day. Like maybe you do voice exercises every day while in the shower.  The act of showering every day is already a habit, so connecting the voice exercises to something you’re already in the habit of doing will help it stick.  And don’t forget to connect the completion that new daily habit with a sense of accomplishment.   Celebrate that sense of accomplishment.

Former Google career coach, Jenny Blake, offers a method of writing down your goals for the year and really pinpointing what’s important.  Check out this quick video.

According to the New York Post, resolutions present an opportunity for self-improvement. Try to set a tough goal, but provide yourself with the ability to slip up without penalty. This means that in the event that you go off course, you can get back on track and not be discouraged by the occasional slipup.

And finally, here’s some advice from us.  No matter what happens to your resolutions, remember, you’re wonderful just the way you are.

Reaching New Audible Heights: Scott Adams

In our most recent issue of our newsletter, Our Voice, we featured an article about Dilbert creator, Scott Adams.  In it, he talked about his desire to record the audio version of his new book, Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter. Like so many with spasmodic dysphonia, Scott lives with SD and the impact it has on his voice. Although Adams experienced great improvement in his symptoms after his Selective Denervation-Reinnervation surgery in 2008, he still struggled with the anxiety of relying on his voice and demanding so much of it.   More...

Scott did not have to narrate his book, after all, there are many professionals who could have done the audio just fine.  But let’s face it, performing it himself was more desirable for the marketability of the book. His publisher believed that it was worth a try to have the book read by Scott, even if they had to scrap it halfway through. So he agreed to try, and, like so many with SD, experienced the concern that goes with having to communicate verbally. In the end, Scott completed the audio book within a schedule of four hours of continuous reading per day over the course of four days. While he felt fatigue in his voice after each recording session, it recovered overnight.

Scott's message is one of hope for those living with SD. He lives with the disorder, got a treatment that worked for him, and tackled a major achievement. It’s like a Rocky movie for SD. For the full story, check out the article in the newsletter on page 3 by clicking here

Read the latest issue of "Our Voice"

The latest issue of the NSDA newsletter, Our Voice, is in the mail, but we are so excited about this 28-page issue that you can READ IT NOW! This newsletter is packed with updates on research, treatment, stories of success, and highlights of the NSDA Support Network. This is our gift to you for your continued support of the NSDA. Share it with your family and friends, too!  More...

[News Archive]

Listen to Voice Samples

Hear audio clips of spasmodic dysphonia, and read about symptoms and treatments using the interactive device below.

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Meet Our Members
Meet Our Members

The NSDA is a grassroots organization working to improve the lives of people with spasmodic dysphonia. This shines through with our members who share their own experiences and knowledge to empower others with SD.

Our Vision

The vision of the NSDA is to ensure the ongoing viability of the organization that will continue to lead the effort to eradicate spasmodic dysphonia.
NSDA's Core Values

Our Mission

The mission of the NSDA is to advance medical research into the causes of and treatments for spasmodic dysphonia, promote physician and public awareness of the disorder, and provide support to those affected by spasmodic dysphonia.
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Contact Us

300 Park Boulevard, Suite 335
Itasca, Illinois 60143
Phone: 800-795-6732
Email: nsda@dysphonia.org
Fax: 630-250-4505