Tag: what does hearing rehabilitation entail

Speech and Hearing Rehabilitation: Conversations with Excel ENT Experts

speech and hearing rehabilitation excel ent birmingham al

While many ENTs offer services related to speech and hearing, at Excel ENT of Alabama, we offer something that’s a little unique, which is full speech and hearing rehabilitation. But why might someone need these services?

At the very heart of the matter is the word “rehabilitation,” which means to restore abilities through training or therapy. Rehabilitation can be used alongside or instead of other treatments, such as medication or surgery. Some disorders do well with therapy only, and others respond well to a combination of rehabilitation and medical treatment.

To learn more about what’s involved with speech and hearing rehabilitation, we sat down with Excel ENT Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP), Amy Pittman, and our audiologist, Dr. Helen Lee Miles, to ask them a few questions.

Speech Rehab at Excel ENT: A Conversation with Amy Pittman, SLP

What’s different about what you offer at Excel ENT? 

While most ENT physicians have the capability to view someone’s throat and vocal cords with a small endoscope, few partner with a speech-language pathologist to provide a holistic approach that includes both medical/surgical and rehabilitative interventions. Addressing all aspects of a voice disorder can be crucial. For this reason, we have had many patients drive here from hours away, even from other states!

What are some reasons or conditions that might cause someone to need speech rehab? 

Many conditions can cause speech problems, but I specialize in voice disorders. Voice disorders are most often caused by swelling, irritation, or growths on the vocal cords, or problems with coordinating respiratory or laryngeal musculature.

What’s typically involved in terms of evaluation, procedures, and therapy? 

A first step in evaluating a voice disorder is to take a look at the vocal cords themselves. We want to make sure the voice problem isn’t a result of something medically serious, and we also want to determine whether medication or surgery is required. We interview the patient to help us identify the problem and come up with a treatment plan. The duration of voice therapy varies, but it often only takes a few sessions to achieve significant improvement.

What is a strobe voice evaluation, and why might it be needed? 

Stroboscopy refers to a specialized method of examining the vibrating vocal cords, which are too fast for the naked eye to see. A bright flashing light lasting a fraction of a second is used to illuminate the vocal cords, allowing us to evaluate their vibration in a detailed way.

What are the results of speech therapy typically like? 

The outcome really depends on the person and the nature of their condition, but most people see great improvement.

Why would you encourage a patient to go through speech therapy, and what are the biggest benefits or advantages? 

Many people achieve excellent results through voice therapy that they could not achieve any other way. Unlike medication or surgery, there are no risks or side effects. Some people are even able to avoid having surgery for vocal cord polyps or nodules by participating in therapy! Even if surgery is required, voice therapy can help patients learn ways to prevent problems from reoccurring in the future.

Hearing Rehab at Excel ENT: A Conversation with Dr. Helen Lee Miles

What is hearing rehabilitation? 

Hearing rehabilitation, referred to as aural rehabilitation, is the process of identifying hearing loss, providing counseling, managing the hearing loss through use of technology such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, or assistive listening devices; and implementing communication strategies to improve a patient’s overall health, ability to communicate with those around them, and their quality of life.

What are some reasons or conditions that might cause someone to need hearing rehab? 

Each hearing loss is different. It can be caused by aging, exposure to recreational or occupational loud noises, genetics, medications, diseases, and syndromes. Some hearing loss can be idiopathic, which means the cause is unknown. Hearing loss can also stem from a combination of these things. It is important to identify the type and degree of each hearing loss to determine the most appropriate intervention.

What’s typically involved in terms of evaluation, procedures, and therapy? 

Typically, the first part of rehab is the identification and diagnosis of hearing loss which is done through a full audiological evaluation including a hearing test to determine the type and degree of hearing loss. Next, patients must be educated on their hearing loss and the recommendations for “next steps.” 

If their hearing loss warrants hearing aids, we would then meet to discuss their needs and wants to determine the best options for them. Then the patient can be fit with hearing aids based on their audiometric results. From there, the patient will be taught about the use, features, and care of the hearing aids. 

It is really important for people to understand that this is a process and follow-up appointments are important to ensure patient understanding and to adjust the hearing aids as needed for optimal use. It is also important for the patient and their loved ones to be taught communication strategies to be used in conjunction with their technology.

Why would you encourage a patient to go through hearing therapy, and what are the biggest benefits or advantages? 

Hearing loss can be associated with isolation and depression. Aural rehabilitation can improve a person’s quality of life and give them the ability to more effectively communicate with those around them. It can help a person by allowing them to have more ease of  listening and keeping them engaged with the world around them. 

Hearing loss can also be associated with cognitive decline. Treatment of hearing loss is not going to prevent things such as cognitive decline or dementia, but it has been shown to delay onset of symptoms. People who have participated in aural rehabilitation are more likely to report overall better health! 

Discover how the team at Excel ENT of Alabama can help with speech and hearing rehabilitation.

If you have speech or hearing issues, both Amy and Dr. Miles are the absolute best, and they will be happy to help however possible. To schedule an appointment with one of our Birmingham ENT specialists, call us at (205) 988-6858, or send us an appointment request.