> University Communications Home
> This Month's News Releases
UWRF Clinic Provides Exceptional Services
By Charlotte J. Muenzenberger
UW-RF News Bureau
FEB. 11, 2005--A little blonde-haired girl picks up the doll and holds
it in her left arm like it was her own child; she animatedly smashes a
bottle against its mouth. A clinician tells the girl, "Feed the baby
her bottle. Here you go." The little girl gives the clinician a blank
stare. "Just feed the baby the bottle."
The girl throws the bottle away, and the clinician once again picks up
the bottle and hands it to the girl. This time the clinician says in a
soothing tone, "It's alright, you won't hurt the baby." The
little girl clutches the bottle and then in one swift motion sticks it
into the doll's mouth.
The little girl is a client at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls
Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic. Raechel Des Combaz, a graduate student
at UW-RF, is the clinician, and the clinic, run entirely by UW-RF graduate
students and their supervisors, provides prevention, assessment and intervention
for any and all kinds of communicative disorders.
Established in 1963 as part of the department of communicative disorders,
each week the clinic serves between 45 and 50 residents of all ages from
western Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota with disorders ranging from articulation
and phonological disorders to hearing and cognitive disabilities. Some
examples of the types of disorders served include laryngectomy, multiple
sclerosis, Lou Gehrig's disease, cerebral palsy, stroke, autism and traumatic
Located in the lower level of the Wyman Education Building on the UW-RF
campus, the clinic consists of many separate rooms and labs, each devoted
to solving communication problems. The augmentative communication laboratory
provides the latest technology offering the use of laser devices that
allow patients to look in a certain direction causing the laser to point
at a picture to communicate their needs. This way the patient only has
to move his or her head slightly to make it work.
Another innovation is the use of a small button the patient can press
with his or her head to communicate. These are just some examples of the
many new devices created to aid in communication for those who cannot
The clinic also serves clients with degenerative diseases. In instances
where an illness causes patients to eventually lose their voices, a computer
allows clients to use their own voices by storing words and phrases. Voice
output devices such as head mounts, light beams and voice analysis also
makes life simpler and improves communication.
Another feature of the clinic is hearing testing and screening both on-site
at the clinic and in nearby schools. Offered each fall, the clinic performs
hearing screening at St. Croix Central, Prescott, and River Falls school
districts. In the spring, the clinic offers speech and language screening
at those sites as well.
Clinic director and assistant Professor of communicative disorders Mike
Harris explains that the clinic benefits both clients and the graduate
students who work there. "By bridging the gap between theory and
practice, the clinic allows students to practice in their future profession
and build skills while supervised by a faculty and staff of certified
speech-language pathologists," says Harris.
Supervised by department professors and professionals who work in the
field, students evaluate clients, create appropriate therapy goals, and
implement treatment for clients. Guided and supported by her supervisors,
Des Combaz works with clients diagnosed with a wide variety of speech
and/or language disorders. "I feel that the clinical experience here
at the University has prepared me well for a future career in the field
of speech-language pathology," says Des Combaz.
"The clinic is a perfect fit with the mission of the University,"
says Harris, particularly with outreach and service as well as training
future speech and language professionals. The clinic improves learning
for clients and UW-RF students alike.
For more information on services of the UW-RF Speech-Language-Hearing
Clinic, call 715/425-3801 or take a virtual tour at: www.uwrf.edu/comm-dis/Clinic%20Tour.htm.
Tuesday, 22-Jun-2010 16:21:19 Central Daylight Time