Who is Dr. Vishal Rao?
Dr. Vishal Rao is a Bangalore based oncologist and is changing the lives of throat cancer patients in India. Dr. Vishal possesses a vast experience in the field of Oncology and Head & Neck Surgery and has been trained in Oncology at one of the most prestigious cancer institutes of India, Tata Memorial Hospital at Mumbai. He is also a Visiting Scholar at the Department of Otolaryngology in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, USA. Apart from this, he serves as a Consultant at the Institute of Public Health and as a Director of the Cancer Prevention and Tobacco Control Project with W.H.O Tobacco Free Initiative partners. He has published many medical journals as well has been the reviewer of many international medical journals. Dr. Vishal has also taken up many social initiatives, especially on tobacco-awareness and dreams of a tobacco-free world.
According to Dr. Vishal “Speech and Communication are not a privilege but a right that they deserve. We cannot hold them back from patients only because he/she is poor “, this thing acted as the fuel to his desire and he came up with something that can eliminate the noise of silence that keeps on buzzing in the patients’ mind. He ended up inventing a voice prosthesis device named “AUM” priced at just Rs 50, which aims at providing the throat cancer patients their voice again.
Before inventing AUM, Dr. Vishal used to help needy patients by providing them imported voice prosthesis free of cost.
1) Oncology is the study and treatment of tumors.
2) Otolaryngology is the study of diseases of the ear and throat.
3) Here W.H.O refers to the World Health Organisation
What is Throat Cancer?
Throat Cancer is the condition that is characterized by the development of infectious tumors in the throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx) or tonsils. It usually originates in the flat cells that line the inside of the throat, a muscular tube that extends from the nose to the bottom of the neck. Throat cancer can affect the body differently depending on the part of the throat where cancer develops.
AUM – What is it?
AUM is a $1 prosthetic device, which is 2.5cm in size and weighs just 25 grams. It helps throat cancer patients whose voice box is removed after surgery to speak again, this time using their food pipe which functions as a voice box .Dr. Vishal developed the device after extensive research and trails for over two years along with his friend Shashank Mahesh.
The device is given name AUM with a definite purpose. AUM signifies the primeval sound for a patient who regains his voice to communicate again because regaining one’s voice is so much like a rebirth. The main motive of the AUM is to provide the poor people the best at the price that they can afford. Thousands of people remain silent because they can’t afford the conventional devices available in the market (they cost around 30k-40k).
With this vision, they used imported platinum-curved medical-grade silicone and other materials to develop the tiny Aum Voice Prosthesis.
How does it work?
The AUM tricks the brain into thinking that there is a voice box when air is forced from the lungs into the throat. The mechanism behind the prosthesis is that instead of the vocal cord vibrating, the food pipe is made to vibrate with the back end of the prosthesis sitting at the food pipe. AUM is inserted in the laryngectomy stoma.
This was a simple innovation by Dr. Vishal Rao that has touched many lives in a very simple way. He is working to make his innovation available to regional cancer healthcare centers across India, so that all throat cancer patients, regardless of their income can have this device.