Dedicated to Helping You Restore and Maintain Your Vocal Health 

Has your voice quality changed? Are you experiencing discomfort or strain while speaking or singing? Our fellowship-trained laryngeal surgeon (laryngologist) and speech-language pathologists are here to help. At the UChicago Medicine Voice Center, we offer state-of-the-art care, advanced diagnostics, in-office and surgical procedures, plus personalized voice therapy to treat a wide range of conditions that affect the voice.

We welcome all types of patients, including professional and amateur singers and actors, teachers, lawyers and anyone who is experiencing a problem with their voice. Whether it's your first time seeking voice care or you're looking for a second opinion, we can provide a tailored care plan that's right for you.

Video Visits and Safe, In-Person Care

In-person care services are provided at two convenient locations: Downtown Chicago and Chicago's historic Hyde Park neighborhood. 

For your convenience, we also offer secure, virtual visits by video with our voice center specialists.

 

Common Symptoms of Voice Concerns

  • Breathy or weak voice
  • Raspy or rough voice
  • Difficulties with raising the voice
  • Pain with speaking or singing
  • Changes in the quality of the singing voice
  • Voice fatigue (changes in voice quality with speaking)
  • Changes in the voice after surgery or trauma to the neck

Treating the Full Spectrum of Voice Disorders

Voice and airway conditions treated by our experts include the following, and more:

  • Acute, chronic and reflux laryngitis
  • Vocal cord conditions such as vocal cord cysts, vocal cord nodules, vocal cord paralysis, vocal cord polyps and vocal fold hemorrhage
  • Recurrent respiratory papillamatosis
  • Chronic cough
  • Reinke's edema, or swelling of the vocal cords
  • Dysphonias, including muscle tension dysphonia and spasmodic dysphonia
  • Laryngeal cancer
  • Voice problems due to trauma or prior medical procedures
  • Vocal tremor
  • Airway stenosis, or narrowing of the airway

Specialized Care for Vocal Professionals

Female and male professional singers performingThe UChicago Medicine Voice Center team is highly experienced at diagnosing and treating voice concerns in vocal professionals and anyone who relies on their voice for their profession.

We regularly care for vocal professionals, including the following:

  • Singers
  • Actors
  • Professional speakers
  • Lawyers
  • Religious leaders
  • Teachers
  • Broadcasters
  • Politicians
  • Salespeople
  • Coaches and fitness instructors

The Voice Center team includes experienced singers in both classical and popular voice who know how to help vocal professionals perform at their best. Services provided by the Voice Center team are personalized to the needs of the patient. Our laryngeal surgeon, Brandon Jackson Baird, MD, has a background in vocal performance which positions him well for understanding and treating patients with complex vocal pathology, diverse backgrounds in voice, and busy performance commitments. His training in professional voice care and rehabilitation at Harvard University — Massachusetts General Hospital makes him uniquely equipped to care for the elite professional vocalists of Chicago. 

Advanced Vocal Treatment Options

At UChicago Medicine Voice Center, we provide a holistic approach to voice care, taking into account your personal treatment goals. We offer the full range of voice treatment options, including in-office procedures, voice therapy and surgical solutions. These treatments include the following:

  • Phonomicrosurgical treatment of benign nodules, polyps, cysts and other disorders 
  • Customized voice therapy delivered by certified speech-language pathologists
  • In-office injection medialization for vocal cord paralysis
  • Botox injections for spasmodic dysphonia
  • In-office laser ablation of vocal cord cancer, dysplasia and papilloma using KTP (Potassium Titanyl Phosphate) laser
  • Sophisticated voice analysis, including office strobolaryngoscopy, acoustic and aerodynamic measures

 

Our Voice Center Team

The UChicago Medicine Voice Center team includes laryngeal surgeon Brandon Jackson Baird, MD, and three advanced speech and language pathologists:

Derek Palmer, MA, CCC-SLP, BCS-S

Meg Thorsen, MA, CCC-SLP

Sweta Soni, MA, CCC-SLP

If needed, your care team may extend to include other UChicago Medicine specialists, such as neurologists, gastroenterologists, pulmonologists, oncologists and other experts who may contribute to your care.

What to Expect at Your First Voice Center Visit

At your first visit to the Voice Center, you'll meet with our laryngeal surgeon and a speech-language pathologist. There are several steps to an initial visit, including the following:

  • In addition to asking you to describe your voice concern and if you experience any breathing or swallowing problems, we'll go over your personal and family medical history, including any medicines or supplements you take.
  • You'll complete a vocal patient questionnaire (PDF) that covers several aspects of vocal health. You may complete the form in advance and either bring it to your appointment or submit it through your MyChart account.
  • We'll conduct a thorough voice exam where we'll listen to your voice and use sophisticated equipment to record and analyze several aspects of your voice, including measuring airflow and acoustic levels as you speak or sing.
  • Our laryngeal surgeon will exam your throat, nose, ears, sinuses and larynx (voice box), and will use a laryngoscope — a thin, flexible tube affixed with a light and camera — to inspect your vocal folds. This procedure is called a videostrobolaryngoscopy.
  • To better evaluate any functional limitations, you may be asked to sing, perform or otherwise use your voice in a manner similar to your normal activity.

Results from the behavioral evaluation, videostrobolaryngoscopy and physical exam are used to develop an action plan with recommendations for treatment options. We'll review the results with you and answer any questions you have. 

Telemedicine at UChicago Medicine

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Schedule a Video Visit

For your convenience and safety, we offer secure and easy virtual visits for most non-urgent visit types. Our care providers can assess your symptoms, make a diagnosis, recommend treatment and send prescriptions to your pharmacy.

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Get a Second Opinion Online

Whether you are facing a complex health issue or difficult treatment decision, getting a second opinion can help you make an informed decision about your care. Get an online second opinion from one of our experts without having to leave home.

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