magaretnahmias

Interesting Observation about Brian's voice.

Brian Littrell - I'll Be Home For Christmas Live at The Buckhead Theatre 2020 - YouTube

So something caught my ear recently. I was watching  Brian 's performance of I'll Be Home  For Christmas from the December 2020 holiday show, and noticed he had a slight voice  tremor just like my mom does with her essential tremor.  Although I knew he  has  Spasmodic  dysphonia it sounded eerily similar.  In fact, if I did not know about his condition I would have sworn  he had essential tremor especially after learning you can have   essential voice tremor separately from the normal body tremors.  Now that I  listened to it closer, it did not last that long. If you weren't listening to it you might have missed it.

So  What is  Essential Tremor?

I t  is non-degenerative  progressive neurological disorders than can cause shaking in  the body.  It usually affect hands first  whether in motion or resting. As it progresses it can affect the whole body and face and then voice too as the person gets older  Onset is usually late 40s to early 50s although my mom got it when she was 29.  It is also  hereditary which means you can pass it down to someone else.  Medicines are available to treat tremors such as beta blocker normally used for the heart, Anti-seizure medications which my mom takes, tranquillizers and Botox.  For severe  cases a pacemaker like implant can be  put into the brain. Although tremors look similar to Parkinson's, it does not   destroy the brain  although research suggests it could.  Although common it still unknown to the  larger community.

Essential  voice tremor  and Spasmodic dysphonia sound similar  but  originate in different regions in the throat  and require different treatments.  Essential voice tremor can originate  in the voice box, palate   or pharynx    According to the  Tremor Talk, the  donor magazine of the International Essential Tremor Foundation  tremors originating  outside the voice box are the most common reported in 93% of patients.  Of those 54%  had body  tremors.  This confirms my mom's progression from body to voice tremors. The onset usually happens around 60-69 years ( the seventh decade of life in life stage terms)   My mom was 68  when she got it.  In contrast Spasmodic Dysphonia  affects only the vocal cords when air is pushed out of them  . Depending on the type can cause breathiness or straining.  You could definitely hear that before in Brian's voice  another reason why I thought the tremor was odd especially after so much improvement. 

A special form of Botox is used to treat   essential voice tremor, with medical treatments being highly effective   In contrast voice therapy is only  the effective treatment for  Spasmodic Dysphonia although I found a video stating that the pacemaker like device I mentioned earlier is being  investigated  as possible treatment. 

Knowing his history voice tremors are unlikely though although they definitely been easier to treat and he at the typical onset age. In addition,  the statistics stated in the article favor a progression from body to voice tremors not voice tremors alone . Though article states that SD doesn't affect singing I wonder if deviations from the norm are common because it has definitely affecting Brian's singing with competing condition compounding it. I was not following the great when the conditions started so it could haven been worse before.  If that is the case he has improved greatly since that time.  Regardless I thought it was interesting because it sounds like what mom has although it isn't. It is not as bad as I thought when I first heard it.

Source:  Essential Tremor of The Voice  vs  Spasmodic Dysphonia   Tremor Talk Magazine  Jan 2021  #33
Internet search for the names of the medicines used to treat  Essemntial  Tremors .

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