UofM School of Communication Sciences and Disorders creates communication boards for ICU patients

May 11, 2020 - The University of Memphis School of Communication Sciences and Disorders is creating low-tech sets of communication boards for ICU patients in Memphis-area hospitals. 

The boards are designed for patients who are – or recently were – intubated, or who are in isolation and may not be able to speak. The options offer quick communication with family and staff, including “What is my prognosis?” and “When will I come off of the ventilator?”

Boards have been delivered to Baptist Hospital-Memphis, Baptist Hospital-DeSoto and Methodist Hospital Olive Branch.

“As confirmed COVID-19 cases climbed in Shelby County, we realized that more and more people were going to be on ventilators,” said Dr. Linda Jarmulowicz, dean of the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders. “In the ICU, the first priority is stabilizing the patient, and that often means intubation. It is not possible to speak while you are intubated. Even after a breathing tube is removed, sometimes speaking is difficult. Yet the need to communicate does not subside. These simple communication boards can be kept at bedside and used by patients to express immediate needs.”

The School runs the Memphis Speech and Hearing Center as its clinical training arm for audiology and speech-language pathology students. 

“Because the clinical programs rely on educational placements around the city and region, the School has many contacts in Memphis-area ICUs,” Jarmulowicz said. ”The School printed the boards, students laminated them and Marilyn Wark, director of Clinical Services in Speech-Language Pathology, made the connections with those who could use these resources.”

The School is taking orders for more boards. For more information, contact Wark at mdunham@memphis.edu.