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OMC Rehabilitation Services helps singer regain his voice

For Denver Wade, singing is more than his hobby it’s his passion and even part of his livelihood as a worship leader at Genesis Church in West Plains.

But, after dealing with an illness, he noticed tightness in his throat and a loss of vocal ability that he feared would change the course of his career and his ministry.

Wade began at Genesis Church six years ago and is currently the student pastor, practicing music during the week and leading the congregation in song each weekend. As the church grew, so did the worship times and Wade was regularly singing with high intensity several times a week. Late last year, after having just recovered from a cold, Wade attended a conference where he sang and played guitar followed directly by a week-long camp where he was again intensely singing each day.

“I was still recovering from being sick but I just pushed through,” he said. “When I got back home, I began noticing this congestion and throat pain that I just couldn’t seem to get over. My abilities were going downhill. There was a lot of tightness that extended beyond fatigue. My neck was so tight it felt like it was full of masses. My vocal cords were done.”

Over the next month, he worked with several doctors to determine the cause of the pain and fatigue. A scope test showed a great deal of damage to his vocal cords and he was referred to a specialist in Columbia who explained that during Wade’s illness he had overused his vocal cords so much that he had begun to rely on the muscles in his neck. He was no longer properly using his vocal cords, which was impacting his entire neck and throat. His case was so severe that he was struggling to keep his head up and it was even difficult to talk and breathe.

He was expecting a regular drive to Columbia for treatment when the specialist called with good news: the care he needed was available at Ozarks Medical Center.

As luck would have it, Speech Language Pathologist Sharon Sowder with OMC Rehabilitation Services had just completed a new certification in Myofascial Release, a special type of a massage designed just for the vocal cords. After speaking with Wade, Sowder felt he was an ideal candidate for the treatment.

“The myofascial is paper thin tissue but it’s amazing how much it can impact the muscles in the neck and the vocal cords,” Sowder said. “Myofascial Release is an extremely light and specialized massage. It doesn’t take much pressure to make a big difference on such thin tissue.”

Sowder said in addition to helping those with vocal problems, the technique can also be used for swallowing disorders.

Wade said he was surprised at how little pressure went into the technique and he had his doubts.

“I thought ‘I will do whatever it takes’ but I did not think that it was really going to work,” he said.

But even after his first session, he could tell a difference.

“By the end of the second session, his voice had changed completely. He could feel a difference and we could hear a difference,” Sowder said. Wade continued treatment with Sowder for the next four weeks while he continued with the techniques and exercises at home.

“I talk and sing for a living. It is incredibly important to me and to think that doing that might not be an option anymore was really difficult,” he said. “I was incredibly happy the outcome was possible.”

Just a few weeks ago, Wade had the opportunity to perform to lead the worship service in singing.

“It was the first time that I had really performed in six months and it felt great,” he said. “I’m at 85 to 90 percent of where I was and I’m happy to be there.”

With continuing his practice on his own, Sowder said she expects him to see continued improvement.

“It’s changed everything,” Wade said of treatment. “Most importantly, it’s taught me the tools for continued health.”

For more information about services at OMC Rehabilitation Services call 417-257-5959.

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