Ted Mau, M.D., Ph.D.
Most of us take our voices for granted. But a bout of laryngitis – or a more serious laryngeal condition – can shock us out of complacency, making us realize what a gift it is to be able to speak comfortably and clearly. Voice loss can be very hard to cope with.
As a former choir singer, I have a connection with patients, and I can talk to them on the same level. I have some understanding of where they’re coming from.”
Ted Mau, M.D., Ph.D., a specialist in voice care, understands the stakes. “We have a very direct attachment to our voice,” he says. “It's our primary mode of interaction and communication.”
Dr. Mau is Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center and Director of UTSW’s Clinical Center for Voice Care.
The Center serves patients who use their voices professionally, such as opera and rock singers, teachers, clergy, attorneys, and salespeople. Dr. Mau also cares for people whose voices have changed due to bowing of the vocal folds (vocal cords) with age, as well as those with voice tremor, vocal fold nodules and polyps, and vocal cord paralysis after surgery or infection.
The treatments Dr. Mau and his colleagues offer include microsurgery of the vocal folds, vocal fold injections, laryngeal framework surgery, and voice therapy. “Most patients come to the Clinical Center for Voice Care having already seen several other providers for the same problems,” he says. “There aren’t many physicians with specialized training in voice disorders.”
Because the workings of the voice box are still not completely understood, research is a large component of Dr. Mau’s work. He studies vocal fold biomechanics – that is, how the folds move and are positioned to generate the wide range of sounds we produce with our voices. He also conducts research into spasmodic dysphonia (a disorder in which the vocal folds move involuntarily, causing voice changes); the merits of different kinds of voice therapy; and whether a device that helps patients communicate can improve their quality of life after voice surgery.
Dr. Mau notes that while people can survive without the voice, having one is crucial to well-being. “The voice is something that’s very precious,” he says. “At the Clinical Center for Voice Care, we understand that connection, so we approach our patients with that understanding.”