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VIDEO: UH Medical School Helps Bring First World Voice Day to Hawai`i

Our YouTube video clip shows highlights (without narration) from the University of Hawai’i Mānoa Campus Center location of World Voice Day in Hawai`i. The John A. Burns School of Medicine Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders helped make April 16 the FIRST-EVER World Voice Day in Hawai`i. Even Governor Neil Abercrombie recognized the importance of the event by issuing a ceremonial proclamation commemorating the occasion. And news stories, including those on the BBC, mentioned that World Voice Day 2013 would “end with the sunset in Hawai`i.”

So why commemorate Voice Day? Well, most of us become hoarse or experience losing our voice during severe colds, which are common this time of year. But we rarely think how devastating it could be to lose our voices for good.

“The voice is vital in communicating at work, school or in everyday social interactions, said Aaron Ziegler, Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) at the UH John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM). “The long-term consequences of poor voice care can range from damaged vocal cords and chronic hoarseness to deadly head and neck cancers,” said Ziegler, a speech-language pathologist and singing voice specialist whose clinical interests are in voice and swallowing disorders. Voice related health problems are believed to result in annual health care costs of $2.5 billion.

Some people damage their voice by smoking, shouting, drinking too much alcohol, or through poor speaking technique. When problems occur, if treatment is ignored, more significant problems can develop, Ziegler explained. If problems persist longer than three weeks, or recur more than three times a year, you should have your voice checked by a professional.

Hawai`i’s World Voice Day included an informational booth (pictured) the University of Hawai`i Mānoa Campus Center and an evening program at the Orvis Auditorium. At 7:30 p.m., Hawai`i participate in a global World Voice Day concert, hosted by a prominent voice scientist in Sweden, Dr. Johan Sundberg. Th evening’s keynote address at Orvis was by Katherine Verdolini Abbott, PhD, University of Pittsburgh (Title: Science & theology; religion & health)

The American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) is also promoting the international health observance day for the human voice, by asking members of the public to assess their voice quality and recognize that harmful speaking techniques, use of tobacco and alcohol, and diet and other lifestyle choices can easily and irrevocably damage the voice.

World Voice Day gives vocal health experts an opportunity to bring renewed awareness about vocal health to the general public and to professionals who have built careers around their voices. The AAO-HNS offers a few simple vocal health tips:

• Never smoke.
• Keep yourself well hydrated. Water is the best.
• Reflux can damage your vocal cords – consider what you eat.
• Don’t scream or shout. Use a microphone if you need to project your voice.
• Rest your voice if you have laryngitis.
• Get evaluated by an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat physician) if you have persistent hoarseness for more than three weeks.

About Communication Sciences & Disorders

For more than 45 years, the University of Hawai’i Speech and Hearing Clinic has been providing speech, language, and hearing services to the Hawai’i community. The clinic provides multi-disciplinary diagnostic evaluations and therapeutic services to children and adults on an outpatient basis. Our clinic has been reborn in a new suite of offices and clinical space at the Gold Bond Building, Suite 625, on 677 Ala Moana Boulevard.

Our graduates work in Hawai`i’s public schools, healthcare facilities, nursing homes, serving the military, and in private practice.

We help those who:
• Have lost the ability to understand or express speech, caused by brain damage including stroke or head injuries sustained in falls or accidents
• Those who stutter
• Have articulation and language disorders
• Language-based learning disorders
• Have suffered traumatic brain injury
• Have voice and swallowing disorders
• Suffer autism
• Suffer dementia
• Suffer hearing loss

Also, we help Hawai`i comply with federal law which mandates speech pathology in the schools for qualified children. Early intervention often helps to reduce or avoid more severe communication disorders and improves academic outcomes.

New Services for the Public:

  • Two doctoral-level assistant professor/audiologists provide high-quality audiology services, including hearing evaluation and hearing aid dispensing and fitting.
  • Our sound booth, audiological diagnostic testing equipments, and hearing aid fitting and verification devices are all newly purchased.
  • We fit state-of-art digital hearing aids based on individual’s need.
  • We provide individualized clinical care to serve people with hearing impairment.
  • We accept patients with a variety of health insurances for audiology services.
  • We are taking patients for hearing evaluation now, and will begin hearing aid services next month (May 2013).

All CSD faculty members are active members of the Hawai`i Speech-Language and Hearing Association, with our department chair, Dr. Henry Lew, currently serving as its President.

JABSOM’s Communications and Science Disorders Department also works to:

CREATE JOBS:

Our graduates usually obtain jobs as a clinical fellows in speech-language pathology and become certified SLPs upon completion of their fellowship.

SERVE OUR AGING POPULATION:

As Hawai`i’s population ages, we expect more instances of health conditions that cause speech or language impairments, such as strokes and hearing loss. These increases are expected to add to the number of speech and language disorders in the population and require more speech-language pathologists to treat these patients.

CONDUCT RESEARCH TO IMPROVE TREATMENT:

CSD also conducts research into communications disorders. One ongoing study aims to learn whether the deployment of U.S. military members has caused them to suffer significant hearing loss. Another project is seeking to discern whether standard measures to evaluate language-learning difficulties need to be revised to take into account cultural differences among people, including those for whom English is a second language.

To reach our Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, call: 692-1580.

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