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Adele, Sam Smith, Shakira—besides being worldwide musical sensations, these singers also have something else in common. All three have turned to surgery to help repair damage to their vocal cords.

Like any part of the body, the vocal cords can become overworked or damaged. And when this happens, it’s not easy for singers to get sidelined from the stage.

When local Connecticut singer-songwriter Stephen Rodgers first started struggling with vocal cord problems, it was a terrible setback not just for his music, but also for the way he expressed himself.

“My voice would become hoarse after 45 minutes of singing, then a half an hour after singing,” Rodgers said. “Sort of progressively went downhill.”

With the help of UConn Health, he found his voice again.

Chief of ENT Dr. Denis Lafreniere and his UConn Health Voice Center team worked extensively with Rodgers to figure out what was wrong and how to fix it. Ultimately, they discovered that Rodgers had a lesion on his vocal cord that needed to be surgically removed.

It all went well for Rodgers, and post-surgery UConn Health’s Voice Center rehabilitated both his speaking voice and his singing voice, according to Voice and Speech Pathologist Starr Cookman.

“I was nervous about it at first, but Dr. Lafreniere and Starr talked me through the entire process and made me feel so much more comfortable about it,” Rodgers said.

Going under the knife can be a scary process for anybody, but it can feel especially risky for singers, whose voices—their primary instrument—are in the hands of a doctor.

According to Lafreniere, patients at UConn Health can trust that they’re in expert hands. UConn Health’s Voice Center has a comprehensive approach, where they take care of both vocal tissue problems and voice use issues. This means even beyond just the immediate-surgical fix, UConn Health can help identify the root-cause of vocal issues and correct problematic behaviors.

From the initial evaluation, to the operating table, to the recovery process, UConn Health was with Rodgers every step of the way. Now, he is back to doing what he loves.

UConn Health is Connecticut’s only public academic medical center, combining the power of world-class research and innovation to develop the medical advances and doctors of tomorrow.

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