Meet a Specialist: Phillip Song, M.D.
As a laryngology specialist at Mass. Eye and Ear, Dr. Phillip Song treats patients suffering from a range of conditions related to the voice and throat. “I originally became interested in laryngology, because it was an area of medicine attempting to answer numerous ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions. I wanted to understand those issues related to the voice and throat, which can so deeply affect a person’s quality of life,” Dr. Song recalls. “I felt especially pulled toward this specialty due to my own throat problems, which included hoarseness and reflux. This has allowed me to connect more deeply with patients.”
A Board Certified member of Mass. Eye and Ear’s Laryngology Division and Associate Medical Director of the Voice and Speech Lab, Dr. Song has a host of experience treating patients suffering from conditions related to the voice and throat. Dr. Song stresses that most conditions are related to three major functions: eating and drinking, breathing, or talking. “I often see otherwise healthy patients, who are experiencing voice-related problems. If those patients sing or perform professionally, their voices are their livelihood; it’s what they have worked toward,” Dr. Song emphasizes. “On the other hand, I also treat patients suffering from very serious health conditions, such as airway stenosis or throat cancer, who are in need of immediate care.” Treatment options vary significantly depending on the patient’s condition, but common treatments include surgery to improve voice and swallowing, airway reconstruction, or laryngeal EMG.
Much of Dr. Song’s focus is on neurolaryngology, the study of how brain disease affects laryngeal (voice and speech) function. For this reason, a significant number of Dr. Song’s patients suffer from neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), or have sustained traumatic brain injuries. “Some of my patients suffer from complex neurological disorders, which affect their voice and swallowing. My main focus is to improve laryngeal function for these patients,” Dr. Song explains. “We have a dynamic relationship with Spaulding Rehabilitation Center, and patients with complex laryngeal issues are often referred to me by Spaulding.”
Dr. Song emphasizes that each patient possesses his or her own set of goals. “My biggest challenge is defining patients’ unique goals and devising treatment options to best meet those needs. For example, it is extremely difficult to help someone who has sustained a traumatic brain injury, swallow again. It is equally as challenging to assist a professional singer hit his or her upper register again. I’m faced with a variety of challenges every day, and I’m grateful for that,” Dr. Song acknowledges. As Associate Medical Director of the Voice and Speech Lab, Dr. Song emphasizes the diversity of the department at Mass. Eye and Ear. “We have one of the finest teams of voice pathologists in the country. It is very difficult to find a group as equally adept at voice, breathing disorders, and respiratory issues as we have in the Voice and Speech Lab at Mass. Eye and Ear,” Dr. Song remarks.
Dr. Song’s newest endeavor at Mass. Eye and Ear involves developing a neurolaryngology center. The center will integrate speech and language pathology, neurology, and neurolaryngology, to facilitate treatment for patients with serious neurological conditions. These patients may have experienced stroke or traumatic brain injury, or suffer from disorders such as Parkinson’s or ALS. Dr. Song says, “The new center is a novel approach to neurolaryngology. It will allow us to provide a network of providers in one location, to help patients through their treatment processes. I’m thrilled to have such a large role in this center’s development.”
Mass. Eye and Ear’s physicians and speech and language pathologists not only treat patients at Mass. Eye and Ear; they offer care to those in the community as well. Dr. Song explains, “We work with several conservatories throughout Boston, to assist students and rising vocalists. Mass. Eye and Ear’s diverse group of physicians and speech and language pathologists continually provide exceptional care to those suffering from voice and throat problems, here at Mass. Eye and Ear and in the community.”
Contact Dr. Song’s office at 617-573-3557.
View Dr. Song’s online bio for more information.