"A wish list of needed equipment for the testing, diagnosis and treatment of communication disorders has become a reality for West Texas A&M University’s Speech and Hearing Clinic, thanks to more than $200,000 in grants from the Mary E. Bivins Foundation and the James A. “Buddy” Davidson Charitable Foundation.
The Mary E. Bivins Foundation awarded a $153,581 grant to the clinic to purchase equipment for the facility’s Auditory Brainstem Response Room and Swallow/Voice Room. A $55,000 grant from the James A. “Buddy” Davidson Charitable Foundation is funding the purchase of specialized equipment for the testing of balance disorders.
“We are so thankful for the grants because we are able to serve the people of the Texas Panhandle more efficiently and effectively,” Dr. Brenda Cross, head of the Department of Communication Disorders, said. “The clinic sees more than 200 patients a year, and it is essential that we are able to assess them using the best technology available. The grants are providing that technology, and this leads to better patient outcomes and patient life improvement.”
The Mary E. Bivins Foundation grant is helping the clinic replace equipment that is more than 15 years old and dated in terms of today’s technological advances. The new equipment is currently in use and will make the move to the clinic’s new location at the WTAMU Amarillo Center in 2018. The list of new devices includes everything from examination chairs, cameras, specialized computers and endoscopes for viewing the vocal cords. The new equipment provides higher resolution recordings and images for the diagnosis and treatment of swallowing and communication disorders due to stroke or disease.
“The equipment enables us to perform laryngeal videoendostroboscopy for viewing the vocal cords and assessing the movement of the vocal cords,” Ann Wallace, instructor of communication disorders, said. “This gives us the best resources in the Panhandle for voice evaluation and treatment.”
The James A. “Buddy” Davidson Charitable Foundation grant has enabled the clinic to purchase videonystagmography (VNG) equipment for testing the inner ear and central motor functions for balance disorders. Before receiving the grant, the clinic did not have access to videonystagmography, but the facility now is one of only two in the Texas Panhandle with the necessary equipment to complete a full series of VNG testing. The new equipment, which also will make the move to the clinic’s new location at the WTAMU Amarillo Center, includes a treatment table, VNG system, EOG electrode amplifier and LED monitor.
VNG equipment measures eye movement through infrared cameras. This type of testing is more accurate and more comfortable and documents the patient’s ability to follow a visual object and how the eye responds to information from the vestibular system, the part of the inner ear involved in balance. VNG testing is primarily geared toward the elderly population and helps determine if a patient’s dizziness is caused by inner ear disease rather than diabetes, low blood pressure, anxiety or other problems.
“We now have the most cutting-edge assessment equipment for training our students,” Cross said. “When students graduate from our program, we are confident they will be competitive in the job market because they have trained on the best equipment available.”
The communication disorders program at WTAMU educates and prepares students on the procedures and processes of speech language pathology. Graduate students, under the supervision of faculty members, learn from hands-on opportunities through the WTAMU Speech and Hearing Clinic. The outpatient clinic serves community members from across the Panhandle in the treatment of voice disorders, childhood speech and language disorders, swallowing disorders, hearing loss and more. The clinic is currently located at the Virgil Henson Activities Center, Suite 242 in Canyon. The clinic will move to the new WTAMU Amarillo Center in downtown Amarillo in the fall of 2018."
-West Texas A&M University