Communication Disorder Unit

Contact: Robert J. Shprintzen, PhD, Director
Location: Jacobsen Hall, 7th floor
175 Elizabeth Blackwell Street
Phone: 315 464-4806

The Communication Disorder Unit offers several clinical services which are an integral part of the comprehensive treatment program of cancer patients at University Hospital.

  • Communication and/or Swallowing Problems
    Licensed speech-language pathologists assess the oral and speech mechanism for patients undergoing surgery or radiation therapy for cancer involving the mouth or neck. Often these patients will experience significant communication and/or swallowing problems. Pre-operative counseling is essential for these patients and their families. This can be scheduled prior to their hospital admission. Post-operative treatment is provided to increase communication and/or swallowing skills. In conjunction with Radiology, a videofluoroscopic examination of swallowing ability is also performed. This provides a video picture of the mouth and the neck for the objective evaluation of swallowing and to evaluate the results of treatment. Compensatory strategies, such as tilting the head and changes in diet, are often beneficial for a person with swallowing problems. Prostheses or electronic augmentative speech devices may be necessary to enhance communication ability. The Communication Disorder Unit offers many such devices on loan to inpatients.
  • Hearing Assessment
    Licensed audiologists at the Communication Disorder Unit provide evaluation and monitoring of auditory sensitivity for chemotherapy patients. Due to the nature of chemotherapy, a baseline audiological assessment with periodic monitoring is recommended. In addition, Brainstem Evoked Response (BSER) testing is available. This is an electrophysiological process which allows nerve evaluation and diagnosis of the peripheral auditory system and neural integrity of the acoustic nerve and pathology of the brain. Intra-operative BSER monitoring during acoustic tumor resection is also provided.
  • Counseling
    The Communication Disorder Unit provides support and counseling for outpatients. When appropriate, a certified social worker meets with patients and families for phychosocial assessments and follow-up.
  • Referrals
    Referrals may be made by patients, families, agencies, and/or physicians.