Better Hearing and Speech Month at UT Dallas
May is “Better Hearing and Speech Month” according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
May 6, 2008
|The Electromagnetic Articulograph machine lets researchers see inside patients’ mouths to track their speech movements.|
The University of Texas at Dallas has several research and treatment programs under way to improve the way we communicate. Central to this work is the Callier Center, which treats more than 7,000 patients a year, conducts research on communication disorders and educates students in audiology and communication disorder programs. UT Dallas’ graduate program in audiology is ranked 4th by U.S. News & World Report, and its masters degree in communications disorders is ranked 12th. Both programs are in the top four percent of their respective rankings.
Here is a selection of some of the efforts by UT Dallas to improve speech and hearing health:
- Hearing Loss Rehab Conference – From May 13-17 the Callier Center will host a group of people who have recently suffered hearing losses. Participants, accompanied by a family member or a friend, will learn about new devices that will help them hear ordinary sounds better, such as phones, televisions and doorbells. They will also learn strategies for talking and listening to non-hearing impaired people and they will have a chance to have their hearing aids examined and learn about new hearing aid technology. The conference is being organized by the Advanced Hearing Research Center at Callier-Richardson.
- How Does the Brain Process Speech? – UT Dallas neuroscientist Dr. Michael Kilgard and his student team conducted a study to provide the first-ever description of how speech sounds are processed by neurons in the brain. One in 20 children in kindergarten has difficulties understanding speech that are not related to hearing or problems with their ears. This insight may offer a new approach to treating these children. The study will be published in the May issue of Nature Neuroscience, the top neuroscience research journal.
- Advanced Cochlear Implants -- A post-doctoral fellow in the Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science is developing an improved cochlear implant with a $225,000 award from the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Yi Hu’s implant will allow severely to profoundly hearing-impaired people to hear in noisy environments. Using advanced electronics, his new cochlear implant will act as a digital filter for extraneous noise while leaving the voices of nearby people easy to hear.
- Three-Dimensional Imaging of the Mouth -- Dr. William F. Katz is an expert on speech disorders that occur after a stroke. He says learning how to speak again is painstakingly slow and difficult. People must learn how to use their articulatory organs, which include the mouth, jaw and tongue all working together. With a grant from the Department of Veteran Affairs, Katz is using a very rare machine called an Electromagnetic Articulograph (EMA) which allows patients to literally see inside their mouths as they practice their speech. This 3-D imaging is a good way to provide biofeedback to stroke victims. There are 40 of these machines in the world and only one in Dallas at the Callier Center.
- Know the Signs of Hearing Loss -- Dr. Lee Wilson, head of audiology at the Callier Center, says an estimated 28 million Americans have treatable hearing losses. Dr. Wilson says people 45 years or older should have annual hearing checkups.