This month, we here at WebPT are covering all things innovative in rehab therapy. Today, we’ve compiled four seriously cool developments in speech-language pathology. Whether you’re an SLP, OT, or PT, you’re going to love these, so keep on reading.
1. Applying the principles of physics
After realizing that a few of his colleagues weren’t receiving the credit they deserved for their work performance as a result of their speech disorders, Glen Tellis quit his job in advertising and management to study speech language pathology, and more specifically, stuttering.
Today, as Professor and Chair of the Speech-Language Pathology Department at Misericordia University in Pennsylvania, Dr. Tellis is using the principles of physics to propel his research. Tellis told Advance for Speech & Hearing: “We use noninvasive methods, near-infrared spectroscopy and diffuse correlation spectroscopy, which map transcranial recordings to derive changes in oxy- and deoxyhemoglobin concentration from tissue absorption changes, as well as changes in cerebral blood flow. The methods are so noninvasive they can be used on children and infants.”
Tellis’s research seeks to identify differences in the blood flow and concentration of individuals who stutter and those who speak fluidly. The results may be able to “improve diagnoses and treatment for those with communication disorders.”
2. Spreading the word
With 160 million blogs as of 2012, there certainly is a blog for everything and that includes speech language pathology. Experienced providers, students, and researchers are writing on everything from games to help autistic children to the use of technology in the industry. If you’re looking for a new resource on the latest and greatest innovative happenings in the field—or maybe just a laugh from someone who gets it—you’ve got plenty of blogs to choose from. Here are just a few:
3. Spanning the globe
On her first volunteer visit to Vietnam (as part of Operation Smile), Charlotte Ducote, PhD, CCC-SLP, head of the Division of Communicative Disorders at the Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans, “fell in love with the country,” according to Advance for Speech & Hearing. Over her next 18 visits, Ducote learned that the people of Vietnam had relatively little to no access to speech-language pathology services, but they did have access to the Internet (in cafés). As a result of this discovery, she and fellow speech language pathologist Giang Pham, assistant professor in the Department of Communication Disorders at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, created a website to improve speech therapy access in Vietnam. Through the site, users can access information in Vietnamese on topics important to the field. Drs. Ducote and Pham also offer to answer questions and consult through a “contact us” form.
4. Creating good vibrations
According to Advance for Speech & Hearing, Robert E. Hillman, PhD, CCC-SLP, Co-Director and Research Director of the Center for Laryngeal Surgery and Voice Rehabilitation at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School, and Director of Research Programs and Adjunct Professor at the MGH Institute of Health Professions (whew, quite the title), “developed an ambulatory device that unobtrusively monitors daily voice use, similar to existing heart monitoring technology.”
The device includes a penny-sized miniature accelerometer, which mounts on the user’s throat, above the sternal notch and below the larynx, and measures vibrations for up to one week. When the user speaks, a corresponding cell phone application records the vibration and transmits the data to the clinic for pitch, volume, and duration analysis. Hillman explains: “Once we know what patients are doing wrong, another app lets us set the device to remind them not to do those things using the vibration mode on the cell phone as biofeedback.”
Who does Hillman hope to help with the device? Well, along with Co-Director Steven M. Zeitels, MD, FACS, Hillman has worked with many famous performers, including Julie Andrews, Adele, and Steven Tyler of Aerosmith. “Singers are 500 times more likely to develop a voice disorder than anyone else,” Hillman says. However, because “a lot of the common voice disorders are related to how people use, misuse, or abuse their voices,” there are other professionals who may also benefit from the device, including teachers, clergy, salespeople, lawyers, and healthcare workers.
There you have it: Four seriously cool developments in speech-language pathology. What do you think of these? What else is going on in your field? Fill us in using the comment section below.