NPR’s Richard Harris back on the air, after vocal fold paralysis

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NPR Science Correspondent Richard Harris is suffering from unilateral vocal fold paralysis, probably due to a virus, he reveals in a post on Shots, NPR’s health blog. “It turns out this disorder is common enough that there’s a line of medical products to address it,” he writes. His specialist at Johns Hopkins used an injection of water, gelatin and sodium carboxymethylcellulose — “yes, cellulose as in the indigestible fiber that tree trunks and paper are made of” — to help align Harris’s paralyzed vocal cord with his functioning one. “Over the next six to 10 weeks, the carboxymethylcellulose will degrade in my gullet,” Harris writes. “That will buy time for the nerve to heal, which it often does. And in the meantime, I’m back on the air.”

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