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A wide range of speech-language pathology and audiology services for MUHC patients

Patients of the Mcgill University Health Centre with hearing and speech difficulties can count on a team of four audiologists, ten speech-language pathologists and two administrative assistants that work across its four adult hospitals.

Collaborating to treat hearing loss

At the Glen site, audiologists work with patients that experiences hearing impairment, are involved in diagnosing the extent of the hearing loss, assessing the patients’ needs and treatment options and informing patients about the most effective hearing amplification devices. When it comes to treating hearing difficulties, audiologists often collaborate with Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) surgeons, for example when patients receive Bone Anchored Hearing Aids (BAHAs).

“This device involves a surgical procedure to place an implant under the skin on the bone above and behind the ear,” explains Janet Mackay, audiologist at the MUHC. “This permits the sound to be converted from the hearing aid microphone to a bone-vibrated signal which will transmit to the inner ear through skull bones.” Audiologists are involved in assessing patients for BAHA candidacy and programming these devices once the surgery is completed.

audiologists demonstrating use of audiometer in sound booth. Left to right: Gigi Cho and Charles Riendeau
Audiologists demonstrating use of audiometer in sound booth. Left to right: Gigi Cho and Charles Riendeau

A new “team member” at the Glen site

Since 2019, the Glen Speech-Language Pathologists (SLP) have welcomed a new team member. The portable videoscope system named after Susan Langmore, the SLP who pioneered the use of this instrument to evaluate swallowing, has become a fixture in the Intensive care Units. Susan, as she is affectionally known, provides SLP’s with direct visualization of the swallowing anatomy right at the patient’s bedside and facilitates collaboration with the ENT’s.

Carla Di Gironimo, Glenna Waters, Sonia Afanasieva
Carla Di Gironimo, Glenna Waters, Sonia Afanasieva

Monitoring patients over time to find new solutions

The Neuro has a team of three speech-language pathologists who focus on evaluation and management of communication difficulties related to neurological disorders. Kalyna Franko is a speech-language pathologist at the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) outpatient clinic. 

Following an assessment of a patient’s ability to communicate, Kalyna will recommend strategies for both the patient and the family to help maintain communication.

“Some patients may benefit from practising communication strategies or by learning to use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) methods at a specialized rehabilitation centre,” says Kalyna. ““AAC can range from a low technology method, like using a pen and paper to communicate, to using a high-tech device such as using eye gaze to select words on a computer screen that will then be read aloud.”

Given that ALS is a degenerative disease, Kalyna monitors her patients over time and recommends new strategies and approaches as their communication needs change. 

Interdisciplinary collaboration at the MGH

The dynamic duo of Speech-Language Pathologists at the Montreal General Hospital evaluates, treats and counsels patients and families to help determine their speech, language and communication needs. They collaborate closely with the TBI, tracheostomy and ICU teams and are an indispensable resource for geriatrics, oral and maxillofacial, medicine and neurology patients as well.

“Every day, these knowledgeable and compassionate professionals assess and treat patients with complex hearing, communication and swallowing disorders. I can’t thank them enough for their professionalism and dedication to our patients,” says Jesse Burns, manager of the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology at the adult sites. 

Yasmine Kheloufi and Alena Seresova
Yasmine Kheloufi and Alena Seresova