Nwanmegha Young, MD, is director of the Yale Medicine Speech and Swallow Program, and an otolaryngologist who specializes in the medical and surgical treatment of voice and swallowing disorders. He cares for professional singers, actors and theatrical performers—as well as teachers and others who speak in public or use their voice frequently.
“Many performers need treatment for their voice at some point. It’s a huge vocal load they have,” Dr. Young says. “I always liken them to athletes,” he says, adding that even endurance athletes get hamstring pulls and other injuries. Performers may develop some inflammation in their voice box and try to push through it so they can keep up with tours, performances and other professional commitments. But they can end up causing further damage, even hemorrhage, he adds.
Dr. Young is highly specialized in treating cancers and neurological conditions affecting the voice box, or larynx, which contains the vocal cords. He performs minimally invasive surgeries and can administer botulinum toxin, or Botox, to treat the muscle spasms in the voice box.
“I really enjoy this work. I don’t think I could do anything else,” says Dr. Young. “I enjoy taking care of patients and the interactions between colleagues here.” He says a team approach that involves a sharing of resources and information among diverse specialists can make all the difference in the success of a case. “There is no other place or field I can think of that would be even remotely similar.”
In addition to caring for patients in New Haven, Dr. Young serves as the program site director at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System in West Haven. He is an assistant professor of surgery in otolaryngology at Yale School of Medicine and has conducted extensive research around the treatment of speech and swallow disorders. Connecticut Magazine has included Dr. Young in its annual lists of “Top Doctors” in the state.
Smilow Cancer Hospital, Yale Medicine