New Scripps Center Treats Voice & Swallowing Disorders

Only center of its kind in San Diego Opens at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla

As a radio personality for more than a decade, Bruce Asakawa realized how vital preserving his voice was so he could continue with his syndicated gardening program. So he turned to the Scripps Center for Voice & Swallowing in La Jolla to help him manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease that were affecting the pitch and tremor of his voice.

The new center – the only one of its kind in San Diego County – provides expert care and state-of-the-art treatment for individuals with all types of voice and swallowing disorders. In Asakawa’s case, he underwent a relatively new vocal cord injection procedure that closed the gap between his vocal cords and restored the beauty and timber in his voice.

“A voice disorder can affect more than your ability to communicate – it can affect the quality of your life,” says Medical Director Peter Belafsky, MD, PhD. “With our state-to-the-art techniques and equipment, we can properly identify the cause of the disorder then recommend and implement a course of treatment.”

The Center offers special services for people who use their voice professionally, such as customized vocal instruction and vocal performance assessments to evaluate vocal quality and function. Additionally, the Scripps Center for Voice & Swallowing offers specialized diagnostic services including new endoscopic procedures that are more comfortable and minimally invasive for people who have problems swallowing.

“Problems with swallowing can have an impact on proper nutrition, the enjoyment of food and sometimes breathing,” Belafsky said. “Senior citizens are especially vulnerable to swallowing difficulties due to a number of causes.”

The Scripps Center for Voice and Swallowing is located on the campus of Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, so patients have ready access to other advanced or specialty care when necessary.