Madelyn Hamilton said she doesn’t know where she’d be without the Visi-Pitch system at St. Catharines’ Hotel Dieu Shaver.
Hamilton, a 30-year radio broadcasting veteran and public speaker, has always valued her voice.
But in 2021, she was diagnosed with neck and head cancer, and through chemotherapy, lost a lot of the ability to use her voice. She also lost the ability to taste and no longer has salivary glands.
“My vocal range was significantly compromised,” she said. “I couldn't be guaranteed that the voice that I had in the morning was the voice that I would have at noon, which would be the voice that I would have in the evening.”
Rotary Club of St. Catharines funds vital equipment for Hotel Dieu Shaver
When the Speech Language Pathology (SLP) Program at Hotel Dieu Shaver began experiencing technical issues with their specialized Visi-Pitch System (hardware and software that was more than 15 years old), it was determined that a complete new system was required.
The Visi-Pitch System is an assessment and therapeutic tool used to service patients experiencing impairments in (1) voice, (2) speech, and (3) stuttering/dysfluency. Therapists conduct objective, instrumental assessment to measure patients’ performance and provide treatment using biofeedback in real-time, thanks to the state-of-the-art technology available through the Visi-Pitch System.
It is vital that our Speech Language Pathology team at Hotel Dieu Shaver (HDS) have the tools they need to restore health, rebuild lives and renew hope for every patient that comes through the program. When the request for a new Visi-Pitch System – at a cost of $21,000 – came, HDS Foundation turned to a group who strives to make a difference in the communities in which they live – the Rotary Club of St. Catharines.
“We are pleased to be able to provide the funding needed to purchase this vital equipment for Hotel Dieu Shaver”, says Sandra Holloway, President of the Rotary Club of St. Catharines. “Knowing that this upgraded, state-of-the-art system is providing the best care to people in our community is gratifying for all of our members who work so hard raising funds throughout the year.”
HDS Foundation applauds the generosity of the Rotary Club of St. Catharines members for their dedicated commitment to improving healthcare services for all residents across Niagara Region. Because of their generosity, the new technologically advanced Visi-Pitch System has been purchased and is currently being used to support both inpatients and outpatients at HDS.
“From a best practice perspective, one of the great benefits about the Visi-Pitch software is that is gives therapists a way to use biofeedback and visual feedback to the patient during treatment tasks rather than verbal feedback only”, says Lori Serafino-Harper, Manager of Audiology, Speech & AAC at Hotel Dieu Shaver. “It will truly give patients a better feel for what they need to do to achieve clear, good quality speech and voice and help achieve better results in a faster period of time.”
SPEECH LANGUAGE PATHOLOGY PROGRAM AT HDS
This program provides assessment and treatment to adults (18+) in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Additionally, the program is assisting a number of COVID-19 resolved patients with voice and respiratory impairments post-virus who will benefit from the assessment and treatment programs Visi-Pitch has to offer.
Services are provided to individuals with recently acquired disorders of speech, language and cognitive communication disorders, including: Dysphagia or Swallowing; Language, including comprehension, verbal expression, reading and writing; Speech, including slurred speech, apraxia of speech and acquired stuttering; Voice; Cognitive-communication, including memory, attention and executive functioning; and Hearing screening.
Visi-Pitch is an application software designed for voice and speech capture and analysis and is used in a clinical assessment of speech and voice to provide an understanding of phonatory behaviour. The software is used in conjunction with the acoustic hardware device, including microphone and speaker.
The Visi-Pitch system helps therapists provide objective, numerical measures of respiratory capacity, voice quality and speech production for HDS medical staff and community physicians who are in the process of determining a diagnosis of a patient’s current symptoms.
The new software with the Visi-Pitch system offers therapists several new assessment tools and options when evaluating a patient’s voice, respiratory and speech capacity. This software will improve the patient’s overall outcome in the SLP Program.