Hollins doctor celebrates 50 years of helping those who stutter

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - The president of a world-renowned speech therapy program in Roanoke has hit a major milestone.

Dr. Ronald Webster is celebrating his 50th year helping people overcome stuttering; a struggle for more than 66 million people worldwide.

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Alexandra Albrecht is one of those people. After a lifetime of struggling, it was the treatment she received at Hollins Communications Research Institute that changed everything.

"Well for one, I am finally able to say my name," said Albrecht.

In just 12 days of speech therapy, her lifelong stutter is almost gone.

"There is no more tension in my chest when I talk. I'm not gasping for breath and my face isn't turning red as I'm trying to get breath back into my lungs," explained Albrecht.

A transformation thanks to a program that Webster has spent the past 50 years developing.

"Basically what we do is take speech apart and we rebuild it in people. We begin by slowing speech down," explained Webster.

The program uses therapists and software created by HCRI that monitors the clients speech and corrects it if need be. The client is then taught how to properly use the muscles in his or her mouth to form words correctly.

Webster said it's about slowing down and understanding trouble areas in mouth movement."In that two-second time period, it turns out that you and I and other people can notice tiny details of what we are doing with our speech muscles and can begin to modify those."

They've even developed an after-care program. The voice monitor application can be taken anywhere using an app on your smart phone.

Ninety-three percent of clients speak fluently after the 12-day program, while 79 percent say they were able to improve their career options after.

To date -HCRI has changed the lives of more than 6,500 patients.

"When we see what they are able to do. I think it's really terrific," said Webster.

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