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Giving people back their voice

Freudenberg Medical supports humanitarian work in Kenya

Freudenberg has been supporting US head and neck surgeons with their humanitarian work in Kenya for some years now. In October 2016, Jennifer Starkweather, Clinical Specialist at InHealth Technologies, spent nine days with some of them in Malindi, where the patients treated by the physicians include people who have lost the ability to speak as a result of disease.

“My time with the medical team was a truly enriching experience. The patients are incredibly grateful for the help they receive,” Jennifer Starkweather said. Head and neck surgeons from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, spend about a fortnight in Kenya twice a year. While they are there they train surgeons locally and give underserved people a new quality of life by providing free surgery. Thanks to the commitment of the medical team, four patients were given back the ability to speak within the nine days that Jennifer Starkweather was in Malindi ? and a further two got their voice back just a week later. Their treatment included being fitted with voice prostheses. InHealth Technologies donates these devices along with many other items of medical equipment and materials to Vanderbilt University for its humanitarian work.

“The assistance I provided in Malindi was just a tiny contribution toward the tremendous work done by the medical team from Vanderbilt University,” Jennifer Starkweather underscored. “Four head and neck surgeons, two anesthesia teams, nurses and local Kenyan doctors treated more than 75 patients who came to Tawfiq Hospital in Malindi from all over Kenya.”

Jennifer Starkweather completed her masters degree at Vanderbilt University and worked as a speech therapist there before starting with the Inhealth Technologies team in August of 2016. In Malindi she was involved in training Kenyan physicians by showing them how to implant and replace the voice prostheses. She also provided preoperative counseling for the patients and explained to them how to use the Blom-Singer device. Thanks to this voice prosthesis, patients whose larynx has been removed as a result of disease can regain the ability to speak with their own voice.

“The personal contact with the patients showed me just how urgently people in Kenya need medical help,” Jennifer Starkweather said. That is why she particularly appreciates the long-standing social engagement of InHealth Technologies.

InHealth Technologies
  • Since 2006, InHealth Technologies is part of the Freudenberg Medical Business Group with its headquaters in Carpinteria, California.
  • Well-established consumer brand in the ear, nose and throat sector.
  • The most prominent products are the Blom-Singer line of voice prostheses: When a patient’s larynx is surgically removed – for instance as a result of cancer – the patient inevitably loses the ability to speak. A Blom-Singer voice prosthesis allows the patient to talk in a slightly more hoarse version of their own voice by means of a valve that enables sound production.
  • The Katz Extractor, on the other hand, is primarily used in pediatrics. It is a small, lightweight, single use device for quick and easy extraction of foreign bodies from the nose or external ear canal.

Freudenberg Group

Together with our customers and with our research partners, we develop leading-edge technologies, products, solutions and services. The innovative strength of Freudenberg has many facets. Having pioneered innovation throughout our history – from chrome tanning and the development of the Simmerring to sophisticated and high-tech medical devices – our company is an innovation champion.

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