Parents and physicians now have an alternative to sedating infants to get an accurate hearing assessment. The Speech and Hearing Center offers Auditory Brainstem Response testing using high-tech equipment that allows the child to remain awake during testing. They are the only provider in the area that offers this diagnostic option.
“Sedation is necessary with traditional ABR testing because muscle movement can affect results,” explains Dr. Shawn Lancaster, director of Audiology at the Speech and Hearing Center. “We’re using the Vivosonic Integrity V500, which is a wireless system that allows the child to not only be awake, but to also be mobile. So the child may feed or play during the test without affecting the outcome.” In addition to eliminating the risks involved with sedation, not to mention the added cost to insurance and the parents, this new form of ABR testing is perfect for serving children with behavioral problems, disabled adults, and those who are medically fragile.
Additional advantages of the new testing procedure are that patients are scheduled quickly and results are provided immediately. Clinics that offer sedative testing typically have long wait lists, which delays the diagnosis of hearing loss and subsequent intervention. “The diagnosis and immediate treatment of an infant with hearing loss is critical for the development of normal speech and language skills, and also impacts the child’s future academic success,” adds Dr. Lancaster. “It is common for us to see older children with hearing loss whose parents opted out of assessment when the child was younger due to the inherent dangers of sedating an infant, the high cost of the procedure, and having to navigate between providers. What they don’t realize is that a child’s untreated hearing loss is dangerous for the long-term academic and social development of that child.”
Testing has begun at the center and parents are already attesting to the advantages of having options when it comes to choosing an assessment method for their children. Ms. Dawn Ownby, whose four-year-old just underwent ABR testing at the Speech and Hearing Center, said, “My daughter has undergone a sedated ABR in the past and I was not looking forward to repeating that procedure. It was an enormous a relief to find out I had other options and could have my child tested in an environment that was completely non-invasive.”
The Speech and Hearing Center, a United Way partner agency, has served the community since 1953 and is the only nonprofit organization of its kind in the Chattanooga area. Services offered include diagnostic audiology testing and hearing aid sales; speech, feeding, and swallow therapy; an accredited preschool (Achieve Learning Center) for hearing or speech-impaired children; and industrial audiology testing. For more information about the Speech and Hearing Center, call 622-6900 or visit www.SpeechHearing.com.