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Edward D. Mysak Clinic for Communication Disorders
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Edward D. Mysak Clinic for Communication Disorders 

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Telepractice

The Edward D. Mysak Clinic for Communication Disorders is an integral part of the graduate training program in speech and language pathology at Teachers College. The Clinic offers a wide range of diagnostic and therapeutic services to individuals of all ages with communication disorders. Services are provided by program faculty and clinical instructors who hold national and state certification in their respective areas. Qualified graduate students provide or assist in the provision of these services under the direct supervision of the faculty and staff.

The Edward D. Mysak Clinic for Communication Disorders was completely renovated during the summer of 2010.  The renovation allowed us to upgrade all the functions of the clinic by providing a spacious waiting room, clinical laboratory, student work room, additional staff offices, and two additional therapy rooms.  The renovation also facilitated our ability to provide speech and language services through telepractice within our clinic and to incorporate education in telepractice within our curriculum. Telepractice, as a component of the established area of Telemedicine, is a relatively new clinical approach in speech and language pathology. The use of videoconferencing via a secure internet connection allows clinicians to evaluate and treat individuals who may otherwise not be able to physically come into the clinic.

Currently, there are three projects in development for the Telepractice Suite. One project dovetails with TC's international experience in Bolivia, which occurs in June of each year.  During the traditional academic year, Dr. Cate Crowley and a team of TC graduate students use video conferencing to provide services to children once a week who need aural habilitation in La Paz, Bolivia.  In this project, teachers in La Paz are acquiring aural habilitation skills to teach the children who are fluent in sign-language how to acquire spoken Spanish. The use of Telepractice has been essential in working with the teachers and parents, helping them to acquire skills they can use with the children when Dr. Crowley and the TC students are not physically present in Bolivia.

The second project is a collaboration between the Columbia University Telemedicine Swallowing Group, formed and directed by Dr. Georgia Malandraki, and the Telerehabilitation Research Unit of the University of Queensland, Australia, directed by Dr. Deborah Theodoros, and Dr. Trevor Russell. This clinical research project incorporates evidence-based evaluation methods, proposed by the Columbia group, with an advanced teledynamic system, created by the Australian group. This system allows the use of state-of-the-art video and audio capabilities and a variety of other measurement tools in order to provide the most comprehensive swallowing evaluation via the Internet and to serve patients in underserved and remote areas. The main goal of this research study is to investigate the efficacy and efficiency of evaluating swallowing disorders through telemedicine, with the long-term goal to also examine its effectiveness in providing swallowing treatment.

The final project is currently under development. This is a collaboration between TC and a school district in upstate New York. This project is being led by Elise Wagner, Assistant Clinic Director, and involves providing bilingual services to children in a rural setting where there is a lack of bilingual Speech-Language Pathology provider.

Currently the Telepractice Suite consists of three therapy rooms that will be specially equipped to allow teleconferencing. The largest of the three adjacent rooms has a large flat screen monitor with associated computer connections to the internet and to the internal computer systems. The adjacent rooms will also be outfitted with permanent monitors and cameras suitable for telecommunication.

The addition of a Telepractice Suite to the Mysak Clinic for Communication Disorders provides TC's students with a unique opportunity to gain experience with this new evidence-based method of providing services to various populations. Most importantly, TC is one of the first programs in the country to incorporate Telepractice into student clinical training, placing our students on the cutting edge of new and innovative clinical methods.