New Technologies Help Speech and Hearing Patients

PULLMAN, Wash. — New computer-assisted therapies are accelerating
patients’ progress and decreasing therapy time at the Washington State
University Speech and Hearing Clinic.

Patients who have had difficulties improving their hearing and comprehension
through the usual therapies may benefit from computer programs such as Fast
ForWord and Earobics available since last fall at the WSU clinic.

“Some people found incredible results working with Fast ForWord; some
decreased their therapy time from two-three years to only four-six weeks,” said
Carla Jones, clinic coordinator.

Fast ForWord helps people who hear well but can’t process the message they
have heard by slowing down the sounds of speech. After the patient is able to
perceive the sound at a slower speed, the program gradually speeds sounds
up to normal speed. Fast ForWord is the most intensive computer program the
clinic has. Training with the program usually lasts four to six weeks for two
hours per day. Most patients are able to improve their attention, reading and
listening skills.

While the majority of the WSU clinic patients using these programs are
children, many adults also benefit from the therapy.

“Computer programs add the visual part to what we are teaching; the kids
enjoy learning with computer software. It’s more motivating,” said Jones.

The WSU Speech and Hearing Clinic provides services to the public and
clinical experience for students in the department of speech and hearing
sciences. The clinic provides comprehensive evaluations for speech, language
and hearing problems. Clinical staff also help fit hearing aids and assistive
listening devices. Therapy is offered to treat a broad range of communication
problems including speech sound production errors, stuttering, language and
speech perceptual deficits associated with hearing impairment, and auditory
processing problems related to language and learning disabilities. The clinic
charges for services, but no one is denied services if they are unable to pay.