MSHC Receives Canale Foundation Grant for Videostroboscopy

by Corey Fawcett

Earlier this month, the Memphis Speech and Hearing, Inc. Board of Directors successfully obtained initial funding for videostroboscopy equipment from the Canale Foundation. Obtaining the new equipment is a step toward establishing a Clinical Voice and Vocal Health program at the Memphis Speech and Hearing Center and will enhance the clinicians' opportunities to offer services to diagnose and treat vocal health problems. The funding will cover about a third of the total cost, and the Board and the UofM will work together to raise additional funds for the equipment this year.

Dr. Miriam van MersbergenVideostroboscopy provides a magnified view of the larynx with a specialized light that facilitates identification of vocal fold abnormalities. "It's not advisable to do voice therapy when you don't know what the patient's larynx looks like," states Dr. Miriam van Mersbergen, Assistant Professor in Speech-Language Pathology.

The machine has two ways to digitally capture the vocal folds: one is through a rigid endoscope placed in the mouth and the other is via a flexible endoscope passed through the nose. The video allows SLPs to identify a wide range of voice, swallow, breathing, and speech issues.

Clinical Assistant Professor John Sandidge is excited about the possibilities for enhanced services that the equipment will provide to the Center's clinicians. 'I was thrilled when I learned of the (initial) funding toward the purchase of videostroboscopy equipment for the clinic. Yielding pristine visualization of the larynx and vocal folds (cords), at rest as well as during vocal function, this equipment is integral to any program that serves those with laryngeal pathology, providing a key component in diagnosis, from simple misuse of the vocal mechanism to laryngeal cancer."

The long-term plan for the Clinical Voice and Vocal Health program includes having an ENT/physician onsite at MSHC. And like other programs at MSHC it would function as an educational training ground for future and practicing SLPs, as well as a research hub.

van Mersbergen hopes the clinic will help raise awareness about voice problems, which are easily and economically treatable once identified. Sandidge also pointed out that the Memphis Arts' community is "grossly underserved by professionals who can assess and treat those with voice problems."

"Your voice reflects your ability to speak out, advocate for yourself, and find your place in the whole orchestra of life⁠—when you have a problem with voice, you have a problem with much more than simply how you sound," van Mersbergen said. "If you can raise awareness that it's a problem that can be addressed easily, quickly, and economically, that can have a huge impact on people's health and quality of life." With any luck, the acquisition of the new equipment will help the Memphis Speech & Hearing Center become the premier destination for assessment and care for vocal health problems in the Mid-South.