Better Together Audiologists’ and speech-language pathologists’ joint treatment of patients with aphasia is key to improved care. From the President
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From the President  |   October 01, 2016
Better Together
Author Notes
  • Jaynee A. Handelsman, PhD, CCC-A, is director of pediatric audiology at the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery in the University of Michigan Health System. She is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Groups 8, Public Health Issues Related to Hearing and Balance; 9, Hearing and Hearing Disorders in Childhood; and 11, Administration and Supervision. jaynee@med.umich.edu
    Jaynee A. Handelsman, PhD, CCC-A, is director of pediatric audiology at the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery in the University of Michigan Health System. She is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Groups 8, Public Health Issues Related to Hearing and Balance; 9, Hearing and Hearing Disorders in Childhood; and 11, Administration and Supervision. jaynee@med.umich.edu×
Article Information
Language Disorders / Aphasia / From the President
From the President   |   October 01, 2016
Better Together
The ASHA Leader, October 2016, Vol. 21, 4-5. doi:10.1044/leader.FTP.21102016.4
The ASHA Leader, October 2016, Vol. 21, 4-5. doi:10.1044/leader.FTP.21102016.4
There are some wonderful articles in this issue about treating patients with aphasia. One by Holly Hinshelwood and Maya Henry addresses the unique treatment approach needed for primary progressive aphasia (as opposed to aphasia secondary to a stroke or other precipitating event).
Another by José G. Centeno and Ana I. Ansaldo discusses needs of bilingual speakers with aphasia. There is also a piece by Mark Krumm that examines how the availability of personal sound amplification products (PSAPs), direct-to-consumer hearing aids and “hearables” might shape the future of audiology.
It was the combination of considering how hearing loss may affect the evaluation and treatment of patients with aphasia—and how the availability of PSAPs and other technology might change the future of audiology—that provided the inspiration for this column.
Collaborative aphasia care
As you may have gathered from my other articles, I fully embrace ASHA’s position that we are two professions and one discipline, and there are so many examples of how and why we need to collaborate and support one another. As a pediatric audiology director, I appreciate the value of having input from our speech-language pathology colleagues, both in assessing progress over time for children who are deaf or hard of hearing and in reinforcing with parents the importance of complying with the hearing-loss management plan.
I also see the value of having audiology input for adults with cognitive challenges or aphasia. I have spent the better part of my career working in tertiary care settings that afforded me rich opportunities to work closely with speech-language pathologists and other specialists in providing care in complex cases. I am sure you would agree that it is important for both professions to think about the potential impact of hearing on speech and language and the impact of a speech, language or cognitive deficit on audiologic performance and management of hearing loss. Having both professions working together as part of the care team is particularly important for patients with aphasia.
I have been reflecting on the value of collaboration in all my experiences working with adults in the tertiary care context. For example, when aphasia occurs as a result of a stroke or other precipitating event, the SLP evaluating the patient may not have information about the patient’s premorbid hearing status. However, it is essential to a valid assessment of comprehension skills that the patient can hear what is being said.
In that instance, the audiologist can provide guidance about hearing screening tools and assess hearing should the screening suggest possible hearing loss. The audiologist may also be able to help provide personal sound amplifiers for use during the speech-language evaluation and throughout the hospital stay.

It is essential to a valid assessment of comprehension skills that the patient can hear what is being said.

Joint family support
Once the patient is stable, the SLP and audiologist can work together on developing functional goals related to the hearing loss. Together, they can determine how managing the hearing loss could affect functional goals related to overall communication. They can also work together to assess progress over time and to modify functional goals as appropriate.
The changing health care landscape is clearly affecting our discipline, and we need to actively participate in the changes. ASHA is working to expand the National Outcomes Measurement System so that we are all better able to provide evidence of our value as members of the health care team. ASHA is also advocating at the local, state and national level to support the professions, and we are having measureable successes.
Although changes in technology will certainly affect how and perhaps where we practice, I am confident that the knowledge and skills that audiologists and SLPs bring to the team will not diminish. The more we appreciate the value we bring to one another, the more we can support our patients and their families in their right to communicate and to fully participate in their lives and those of their loved ones.
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October 2016
Volume 21, Issue 10