More Than Words

Patients losing the ability to speak gain a new tool to share thoughts, feelings

Patients with head and neck cancers often lose the ability to speak clearly or to speak at all. So when Roswell Park speech language pathologist James Smaldino saw a woman whose larynx had been removed using "Dynawrite," a text-to-speech device, he wanted to learn more. Smaldino knew of similar technologies, but was struck by the simplicity of the "DynaWrite," which resembles a small laptop computer.

"You type what you want to say and hit 'speak.' This device assists patients in a simple way very quickly," Smaldino said. "It gives them a piece of control back again."

Smaldino's interest and research led to the purchase of five of the devices for patient use with Quality of Life funding from Roswell Park donations.

Patient William Harris, diagnosed with cancer of the vocal cords, used one of the DynaWrite devices during his treatment. “It is a great help in keeping me feeling like I am still part of the flow of things," said Harris. "It’s just another example of Roswell being concerned with the wellbeing of its patients.”