Helping patients communicate through technology

24/Aug/2020     Health

This week we celebrate Speech Pathology Week which seeks to promote the speech pathology profession and the work done by speech pathologists with the 1.2 million Australians who have a communication disability.

The theme of this year’s week is Communicating with Confidence and Mater Speech Pathologists Lucy Lyons and Julia Matthews share how they have been using unique technology to help their patients communicate with confidence.

“Working in a hospital we see many patients who have a communication disability tied to an array of other medical problems, the inability to communicate under these circumstances can be extremely distressing and isolating for the patient,” Lucy said.

“For patients who may be experiencing motor neuron disease, spinal injuries or any other form of paralysis new software is being developed to help them communicate if they are unable to speak clearly.

“We have recently been lucky enough to trial a very high-tech piece of equipment to help our patients who are not able to verbally communicate, speak. The most basic way of describing it would be a device similar to what Stephen Hawking would have used.”

The equipment named the NeuroNode is now a solution for those living with paralysis and loss of speech which uses eye control technology to help a person not only communicate but control their environment and reach new levels of independence.

“It is an amazing piece of technology, it has been very user friendly with our Speech Pathology and Nursing teams picking it up very quickly. It uses Bluetooth connection to register movement within the body,” Julia said.

“Patients who have trialled this have also been able to pick it up very quickly and for the first time since their illness or accident have been able to communicate with us, their loved ones and even going so far as to make jokes.

“With advances in technology this equipment could be used to control a person’s environment but connecting it into their home devices such as lights and air conditioning. They can also use the device to play music, access the internet and send text messages.”

Lucy and Julia explain as Speech Pathologists they are keen to keep up with advances in technology to best help their patients communicate. 

“To set up this device was a collaborative team effort, we worked with the Occupational Therapists, nursing team and doctors to set therapy goals for our patients during the trial,” Lucy said.

“It worked exceptionally well, and we definitely have patients in the hospital who would benefit from using this technology, now and in the future. All we need now is funding to purchase this equipment for our own,” Julia said.    

To find out more about the Mater Speech Pathology services you can call 07 3163 8685 the team can also assist with fluency, voice, swallowing, speech and langauge difficulties. 

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