Justin Bieber is not the first celebrity to be in the news due to disease or illness. The 28-year-old pop singer was diagnosed with Ramsey Hunt Syndrome (RHS). His accompanying facial paralysis is especially debilitating, given he makes a living from his voice (speech).
What usually follows the news blitz of such events is better public awareness of the condition. In Bieber’s case, speech therapy will play a critical role in his recovery. But past cases of celebratory illness have taught us that inaccurate information can interfere with the learning opportunity.
For example, a 2000 study found that well-meaning celebrity advocates promoted incorrect breast cancer screening guidelines around First Ladies Ford and Reagan oncology treatments. The same happened when a big-city mayor and senator were diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Let’s Not Lose the Lesson About Virtual Speech Therapy
There is already disinformation and incomplete information swirling around Bieber’s RHS. One media account, for example, noted medications that can relieve symptoms but did not mention needed speech therapy for the singer to regain control of his voice.
Here’s what to know about RHS and speech therapy:
- Time equals function: Regaining voice and facial control as soon as possible is crucial for a successful recovery. There’s no knowing if facial paralysis is short or long-term. However, speech therapy is indicated for all such cases.
- Professional entertainers must perform from a position of confidence: At Great Speech, we’ve helped thousands over the years to again feel confident. Isolation and depression are genuine threats when speech becomes impaired due to illness or accident, especially for high-profile celebrities.
- Some 46 million Americans experience some form of communication disorder: Bieber is among the most recent struggling with such an affliction. Untreated, such communications disorder is a nearly $200 billion problem in direct care and lost wages.
- The solution to these disorders, including RHS, is speech therapy: And virtual speech therapy is a great alternative to traditional speech therapy, as patients like Bieber can get their speech therapy at home with a therapist over their computer. Patients with facial paralysis often feel self-conscious about their appearance when leaving home to check into an outpatient treatment center.
Bieber Can be an Inspiration for Others
Nearly 18 million adults have trouble using their voice. Bieber’s recovery will be widely watched and documented. Just as actor Michael J Fox leveraged his diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease (another disorder much improved with speech therapy) to inspire others, Bieber too can emerge as a great example. The pop singers’ successful recovery with the help of speech therapy will create awareness and acceptance of others recovering from speech disorders.