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Speech pathologist provides a helping hand in hearing journey

Published:  30 July 2020

In a first for Townsville Hospital and Health Service (HHS) a Charters Towers speech pathologist has stepped into the role of ‘hearing helper’, enabling a young Hughenden family to stay closer to home by supporting their baby girl to be fitted with life-changing hearing-aid technology using telehealth.

Now four-months old, Angelina Greenaway-Sumner was diagnosed with moderate bilateral hearing loss in April this year, meaning she has limited hearing in both her ears. Angelina was then referred to Hearing Australia to be fitted with a hearing aid.

Townsville HHS speech pathologist Bernadette Cantrall said she was delighted to be able to help Angelina on her hearing journey. 

“Angelina was born with a cleft palate, which is often associated with hearing loss,” Bernadette said.

“Early fitting of a hearing device is hugely important for neurological development and goes a long way in helping the disparity between learning in hearing versus hearing-impaired children.

“The first few years of life provide the foundations of things like language, so to be able to fit her sooner means Angelina will have a better chance at keeping up with her peers as she grows.

“As a speech pathologist, I already work closely with Angelina and her family on feeding and communication, so being able to help them with the hearing aid is a big step to helping Angelina in her health care journey.”

Hearing Australia principal audiologist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services Samantha Harkus said the organisation was grateful that Bernadette was able to help the family with their hearing aid fitting.

“Angelina is being fitted with a bone conduction hearing aid which is a device that creates vibrations that move across the skull to the inner ear where is it sensed by the cochlea (hearing organ); it sits on a headband and is easily taken on and off,” Samantha said.

“The team at the Hearing Australia Centre in Townsville worked closely with Bernadette to organise the hearing aid fitting and Bernadette acted as our hearing helper; our hands during the telehealth appointment.

“Our audiologist in Townsville provided the education and training on the device and Bernadette provided support during the appointment.

“By the end of the session the family were able to use the device themselves.”

Angelina’s Dad, John, said he was delighted to be able to have the fitting done at home in Hughenden.

“Getting to Townsville for a fitting would have been very difficult for us so it’s so good that we’ve been able to stay here in Hughenden,” John said.

John said he was looking forward to seeing if there were any changes in his daughter following the fitting.

“Angelina is such a beautiful baby,” he said.

“She’s so quiet, she sleeps through the night, she’s so happy; I’m excited to see her face when she can hear properly.”

Hearing Australia helps thousands of children, adults, pensioners, veterans and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with more than 450 audiologists providing care through tele-services, online, in home and across their nationwide network of 168 centres. The Hearing Australia centre in Townsville, along with allied health services from the Townsville HHS, will continue to provide ongoing care to Angelina and her family.

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