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School & Program Updates

School & Program Updates

South Carolina Speech and Hearing Research Center Improves Patient Outcomes through Technology

Miss. Angel Harvey was born hearing but lost her hearing due to bacterial meningitis right before she turned two years old. She had hearing parents and a sibling who wanted to communicate with her so she underwent surgery to receive cochlear implants and enrolled in Auditory-Verbal Therapy at the University of South Carolina Speech and Hearing Research Center to learn to listen and talk.

[Photo: Speech-language pathologist and clinical instructor Ms. Jamy Claire Archer, right, works with Miss. Angel Harvey on an iPad during an Auditory-Verbal Therapy session at the USC Speech and Hearing Research Center]

Auditory-Verbal Therapy is a specialized type of therapy for children with hearing impairment requiring a specific international certification. It is offered by less than 10 providers in the state of South Carolina and less than 900 providers worldwide. The Center, located within the Arnold School of Public Health’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, houses one of only three Cochlear Implant/Auditory-Verbal Programs in S.C. with two practicing Auditory-Verbal Therapists and faculty members. There is also an Auditory-Verbal/Cochlear Implant special interest group for graduate students to gain additional knowledge and experience in cochlear implants and this unique type of therapy.

These specialized services and expertise that the Center offers is clearly needed.

Each year, the Center logs 6,000 patient visits and 225 patient outreach hours, providing diagnostic and treatment services for individuals of all ages who have communication challenges in the areas of articulation, fluency, voice, language and literacy, or hearing. Among their many tools to rehabilitate these patients, Center graduate students, staff and clinical faculty members incorporate the use of technology into their treatment methods.

For example, the Center’s first iPad was obtained five years ago with a clinical teaching grant through the USC Center for Teaching Excellence. The success with this device was so clear that the Center obtained additional iPads for use with all patients. Since then, they have also purchased three SMARTboards to use in therapy to facilitate individual sessions as well as group interactions with pediatric and adult patients.

“Our Center and department make every effort to be on the cutting edge of new techniques to bring to our patients, facilitating the best progress and potential,” says Ms. Jamy Claire Archer, a speech-language pathologist and clinical instructor at the Center. “We also use iPads for individuals who have other communication difficulties for myriad different reasons.” Patients with voice disorders use the iPad to speak into for visual reinforcement of the correct vocal production. Other patients, who have had a stroke or have a genetic condition such as cerebral palsy, may have lost their ability to speak. They use the iPad to “speak” for them by making selections and the iPad verbalizes their input.

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