Speech Therapy 311.
(photo credit: Kaplan Medical Center)
The ability to speak – lost eight months ago by a 21- year-old Palestinian
allegedly from the emotional trauma of an encounter with security forces – has
been restored by a clinical communications specialist at Rehovot’s Kaplan
The humanitarian gesture was that of Pnina Erenthal, who
has much experience in treating psychogenic aphonia.
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The patient was
Muhammad Devabassa, a resident of Tarkomia near Hebron and a construction worker
inside Israel. After the encounter with the security forces, he was taken to a
different hospital and tried to speak, but found to his horror that he couldn’t
say a word. Erenthal, who heard about the case, recently tried to locate him
through Doctors Without Borders and his family physician.
“I was sure I
could restore his speech,” she said, “on the basis of my extensive experience in
treating psychogenic aphonia.”
She finally found him and volunteered to
treat his condition at Kaplan; approval for his entrance was granted by the
All the three symptoms for the condition were present, she
said. There was a lack of coordination between the voice and the vocal cords,
which were not diseased; a difficult traumatic condition; and relatively quick
disappearance of the problem. She tried to help him make nonverbal throat sounds
such as a cough or gargling sound and reduce the muscle tension in his voice
box. She also helped him feel safe and provided a friendly
Erenthal said she “took the weak voice and helped him build
it into sentences and texts. The first thing he said was about the trauma he had
suffered,” but she did not provide details.
“I immediately called his
family doctor to tell her the treatment had succeeded.
Erenthal was told
by the doctor that she had already been informed by the Betzelem organization,
which deals with humanitarian cases.
Devabassa said he was very excited
by Erenthal’s initiative to restore his voice.
“I want to study
industrial engineering and management in university, and now I hope I will be
accepted. Thanks so much to Pnina – she is a dear woman – and to Kaplan Medical
Center which arranged all the authorizations.”