Yolanda D. Heman-Ackah, M.D. is an otolaryngologist, certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology, who subspecializes in professional voice care and laryngology. Her background as a trained musician, dancer and singer makes her uniquely qualified to understand the vocal demands of the performing artist, and to tailor treatment of professional voice disorders based on this understanding. Her primary practice focus is in treating the professional voice user (singers, actors, public speakers), but she also treats other voice and airway problems such as reflux, spasmodic dysphonia, laryngeal papillomatosis, airway stenosis, vocal fold paralysis, arytenoid dislocation and laryngeal cancer. Her approach to the care of the professional voice is multidisciplinary and includes the active involvement of a speaking voice therapist, acting voice therapists, singing voice therapists, gastroenterologists, neurologists, pulmonologists, general surgeons and other healthcare professionals, as indicated by the individual patient's needs. Her additional interests include pediatric airway and voice disorders and head and neck cancer surgery.
Dr. Heman-Ackah received her bachelor's of arts degree in psychology and her doctor of medicine degree from Northwestern University as part of the honors program in medical education. She completed a residency in Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Minnesota and then completed a fellowship in professional voice care and laryngology under the preceptorship of Robert T. Sataloff, M.D., DMA in Philadelphia. Following her fellowship, she founded and directed the Voice Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she brought professional voice care to the Chicago voice community and was assistant professor of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery. She currently has an appointment as associate professor of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery at Drexel University College of Medicine and assistant professor of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery at Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson Medical College here in Philadelphia.
Dr. Heman-Ackah is known nationally and internationally for her pioneering research on the laryngeal chemoreflex, which has furthered our understanding of how laryngeal reflexes can contribute to sudden infant death syndrome, as well as for her research in developing measures for voice analysis and in describing strobovideolarngoscopic findings in singers. Dr. Heman-Ackah has received numerous awards and grants for her research, including awards from the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, the American Laryngological Association, and the American Laryngological Voice Research and Education Foundation. She has been elected to membership in the International Association of Phonosurgeons, and is also a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), the Voice and Speech Trainer's Association (VASTA), the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the Latin Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and of the Voice Foundation. She is the current national medical adviser for VASTA as well. She has written numerous publications, including co-authoring the first textbook on laryngeal electromyography, and is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Voice. She has been recognized by the state and federal governments, and has been appointed to the Physicians' Advisory Board by the National Republican Congressional Committee and to the Pennsylvania Hearing Aid Sales Registration Law Advisory Council by Governor Rendell. She continues to pioneer advancements in voice care through her basic science and clinical research, as well as through educational programs for medical students, residents, singing teachers, speech-language pathologists, otolaryngologists, and other physicians and voice professionals.