Our voice is one of the most important aspects of our identity. If a person is not able to speak, then their day-to-day life can become very difficult. The ‘Epidemiological review of laryngeal cancer: An Indian perspective’ published by the National Library of Medicine has said that in India, somewhere between 1.26 per cent to 8.18 per cent of every 100,000 people are affected by throat cancer. And this can lead to loss of voice in many patients.
A cancer specialist from Bengaluru, Dr Vishal Rao has come up with an AUM Voice Prosthesis device, which can enable those who have lost their voice to speak again.
The making of the device
This unique device has been made with Medical Grade Platinum Cured Silicone. The patients whose voice box or larynx is removed during or after surgery, often have their windpipe and food pipe separated. In such cases, the AUM Voice Prosthesis is fitted in the gap between the two pipes. Generally, the voice box vibrates with the wind that comes out of the lungs, but the AUM Voice Prosthesis vibrates with the help of the food pipe.
“When wind enters the food pipe through the lungs, it vibrates. With this, one can adjust their speech in coordination with their brain’s functioning. The device is 2.5 centimetre long and weighs 25 grams”, informed Dr Rao.
Dr Rao is not the only one who worked to make the device a reality. While he received the assistance of industrial engineer Sashank Mahesh, Kaushar Pasha, a toy-maker from Bengaluru also helped in making the wood which is used for placing the device in the throat.
Pasha makes wooden models in Channapatna, a place in Karnataka which is famous for its wooden toys. So, these three men from three different fields came together to make a useful device which is highly appreciated by the patients.
Stories of those who lost their voice
Narayan Swami says, “I worked as the union leader in a company but after I lost my voice, I was unable to help others. In a way I became useless to them. Because of this helplessness, I wanted to harm myself. But with the help of this device, I got my voice and my life back”.
Ramkrishna, who works as a security guard, was diagnosed with throat cancer because of his addiction to smoking. He lost his voice after surgery, but today, he is able to speak again with the help of the AUM Voice Prosthesis.
Nalini Satyanarayan said that although she has crossed 70, she is still young at heart. She is also an example for all those people who think that there is no future after cancer.
The genesis of the device
According to Dr Rao, one patient from rural Karnataka faced difficulties in eating after undergoing surgery for throat cancer. He lost his capacity to speak since his voice box was removed during the surgery. He felt defeated and discouraged because the prosthetic voice sold in the market was too expensive. This led to the idea of making something affordable for everyone.
Speaking about the naming of the device, Dr Rao said as archaeological inscriptions, ‘Om’ is also written as ‘AUM’. In ‘AUM’, ‘A’ means creation; ‘U’ means sustenance; and ‘M’ means annihilation. Since ‘Om’ is said to be the sound of the universe, the device named ‘AUM’ also helps people in regaining their lost voice. To know more about the device, you can visit either his Facebook page ‘AUM Voice Prosthesis’ or the official website of the voice prosthesis.
The entire kit of AUM Voice Prosthesis costs Rs 8,000 whereas other similar devices that are available in the market may cost up to Rs 70,000. For those who are unable to afford this, the device is also made available through fund-raising or free of cost.
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