TECHNOLOGY recently enabled specialists in the mainland to test an infant on-island for hearing loss at the University of Guam.
On Oct. 19, Venerannda Leon Guerrero brought her infant to the Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service (CEDDERS) testing center at UOG and watched an audiologist in Colorado via webcam conduct a diagnostic test to determine whether her baby has a hearing loss.
The remote test marked the first technology-enabled distance diagnostic testing for hearing loss on very young infants on-island, UOG announced in a press release.
The initial testing was made possible through the Teleaudiology Project, a collaboration between Dr. Debra Hayes and Dr. Susan Dreith of the Bill Daniels Center for Children’s Hearing, Children’s Hospital-Colorado, and the UOG CEDDERS Guam Early Hearing Detection and Intervention project, with support from the Guam Department of Education, Division of Special Education – Early Intervention Program. This 18-month partnership is a pilot project that addresses the critical need for services from Pediatric Audiologists in the Pacific.
Dr. Dreith and Dr. Ericka Schicke at Children's Hospital-Colorado operate the diagnostic audiological equipment remotely from Colorado, after audiometrists on Guam prepare the parent and infant for testing. Both have obtained their licenses to practice as audiologists on Guam, UOG indicated.
The Diagnostic Audiological Evaluation may take two hours to complete, which requires the infant to be asleep during the evaluation.
Parents are able to find out results at the end of the test.
Early diagnosis for hearing loss in young infants is a service in dire need on Guam, which prompted the establishment of the collaborative project.
Infants that do not pass their newborn hearing screening can now be evaluated before 3 months of age, thus allowing early intervention services if needed by the time the infant reaches 6 months of age.
“I think this accomplishment under UOG/Guam CEDDERS is a major step forward in the use of technology to support our community. Thanks to this partnership, babies on this island will get the needed pediatric audiological services from certified professionals – an area lacking on Guam,” stated Velma Sablan, associate professor at UOG and experienced professional in the field of early hearing detection and intervention.
For more information on infant hearing screening, visit www.guamehdi.org or call 735-2466.