To celebrate the Speech and Hearing Month, we sat down with KITE Senior Scientist Elizabeth Rochon to discuss the importance of raising awareness and advocating for individuals with communication difficulties.
Why is it Important to Celebrate Speech and Hearing month?
It is important to celebrate speech and hearing month to raise awareness and to advocate for individuals with communication difficulties. Speech, language and/or hearing difficulties can lead to social isolation, reduced quality of life and reduced independence. Yet, awareness is very limited.
Speech, language and hearing are critical for communication in daily life, and communication is critical to our existence as social beings in the world. Communication difficulties can be a component of many chronic and acute health conditions, present across the lifespan: from childhood to older age. Communication difficulties are often invisible, silent and misunderstood, leading to mistaken assumptions about an individual’s cognitive status, personality or abilities.
Research has found that hearing loss is one of the main modifiable risk factors for dementia. Audiologists can screen, assess and recommend solutions for hearing difficulties.
Research has shown that aphasia is negatively associated with health related quality of life, more than very many other diseases and conditions. Yet, research has also shown that only about 5% of the general population in the GTA has basic knowledge of aphasia, an acquired difficulty with speaking, understanding, reading or writing after a stroke. This same finding has been replicated across many countries in the world. Speech-language pathologists screen, assess, treat and recommend solutions for individuals with aphasia and their families.
What are some of the current research projects in Elizabeth Rochon’s lab?
VoiceAdapt project: We are testing app-based speech therapy for word finding difficulties, delivered remotely over the internet. It is intended for individuals with aphasia who are at least 6 months post stroke and who are not enrolled in other speech therapy at the same time.
PPA Intervention: We are analyzing findings from a recently completed group therapy intervention for individuals with primary progressive aphasia (PPA), which will inform next steps in our treatment approach for this group.