Frank's Story

Therapy at UH Helps Local Man with Voice and Swallowing Issues

In the fall of 2015, Frank Turinsky, a CPA from Amherst, went to see University Hospitals otolaryngologist Marc Guay, MD, for an ear issue. During his office visit, Dr. Guay noticed that Frank’s voice was hoarse and recommended that he see Michael (Mike) Stives, M.S., CCC-SLP, of the University Hospitals Center for Voice and Speech-Language Pathology in Sheffield Village.

Michael Stives
Michael Stives, M.S., CCC-SLP

Speech-language pathology is a medically aligned field that requires an advanced degree (master’s or doctorate) to practice. Speech-language pathologists specialize in the evaluation and treatment of communication disorders, cognition, voice disorders and swallowing disorders. UH is pleased to offer a voice clinic on the westside so patients do not have to travel to downtown Cleveland or to the eastside for this service.

Frank decided to wait to see if his voice improved with time, and a year later, it hadn’t. So, he made an appointment for a modified barium swallow study on September 20, 2016 at UH Elyria Medical Center. During the study, Frank was given several types of food to eat and liquids to drink, such as pudding, shredded meats, nectar and thick liquids like honey. Via video fluoroscopy, Frank was able to see how he was swallowing each item. The results indicated that he was aspirating on thin liquids, meaning fluid was going into his lungs as a result of a weakened and delayed swallow. This can cause pneumonia due to liquids entering the lungs.

Frank began five weeks of voice-swallowing therapy at the UH Center for Voice and Speech-Language Pathology. Located within University Hospitals Sheffield Health Center at the juncture of Interstate 90 and Detroit Road, the facility was conveniently located for Frank.

“When he began his therapy, Frank could only sustain vowel sounds for four seconds and had a hoarse vocal quality,” said Mike. Noticing tightness in Frank’s neck and upper back, Mike and Baldwin Wallace University student Stephanie Darm incorporated heat and stretching massage into his therapy. Additionally, they showed Frank how to improve his breath support using abdominal breathing techniques and worked on Frank’s vocal pitch range for speech.

University Hospitals Elyria Medical Center has affiliations with several universities in the area, including Baldwin Wallace, to provide hands-on experience for students pursuing careers in the medical field. “My therapy with Mike and Stephanie was an awesome experience,” said Frank. “They made my sessions fun; I actually had a good time during my therapy.”

After five weekly sessions, including a lesson plan and exercises Frank could do at home, he was able to sustain vowel sounds for 10 to 11 seconds –more than twice as long as before therapy. Additionally, he doubled his breath support, his pitch improved, and he was able to swallow safely again.

Frank credits Mike’s professionalism for his success, saying, “UH Elyria Medical Center can be proud to have Mr. Stives as an employee. His dedication and enthusiasm for his work is inspiring and he is a perfect mentor for Stephanie as she pursues her career.”

For more information about the UH Center for Voice and Speech-Language Pathology or speech-language therapy at UH Elyria Medical Center, please call 440-329-2890.