She says the sorts of evaluations she conducts can change lives, especially at an early age.
"What we're hoping to do is identify at birth if they're going to need amplification, because their hearing is severe enough to qualify, then we hope to have them aided by six months. The patients that have enough hearing to develop speech wiht hearing aids, that's good. If they're going to require a cochlear implant, we want them to be implanted by one."
During an infant evaluation, Dr. Cross uses the otoacoustic emission test to determine the hair cell function.
"Research is showing if we early identify and fit by six months and if we have to move to a cochlear implant to have that done by age one, then essentially, there will be no developmental speech delays by the time they're three years of age. Before children weren't being identifed until three years of age. Being able to do this has significantly cut down on the amount of special education classes and their ability to communicate."
During the hearing evaluation she goes over the patient's case history and performs the otoscopy test by looking in the ear. Then, she places the patient in a sound-proof room for further testing.
"You're listening for beeps. Some will be very soft, almost to the point where you don't know if you're really hearing it, but fairly certain you're hearing it. Even for the maybes I want you to press the button down when you hear the sound. The ear piece will expand."
The device placed in the patients ear changes the air pressure and makes the eardrum move back and forth.
"We use the machine to see how your ear drums moves, so it gives me a really good idea about your middle ear system. We start at 1000 hertz, which is normal, and we present a tone."
Dr. Cross records the results on graphs called tympanograms.
After the test is complete she goes over the results with the patient and makes recommendations.
Another service offered at the WT Audiology Clinic is hearing aid fitting. A hearing aid is placed inside the Real-Ear System to analyze the gain. This is essential when it comes to pediatric hearing aids.
"Our pediatric population doesn't know what normal is. It's giving x amount of gain at x frequency. We really know that our pediatric population is getting what they need. This is how we make sure we're not over amplifying for one and we're not under amplifying, because in the pediatric population it's just as detrimental to under amplify."
The audiology lab also helps with hearing aid Bluetooth capabilities, custom hearing protection and custom swim plugs. Occasionally insurances will require a referral from a primary care physician; however, they can help the patient get the referral if that is needed. Also, this week they're offering free speech, language and hearing screenings at the clinic.
WTAMU Speech and Hearing Clinic
Virgil Henson Activity Center
Suite 242, Canyon
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