Helping adults with cochlear implants (CIs) maximize their ability to hear and understand again is at the core of what Christin Ray, PhD, CCC-SLP, aims to accomplish in her new role as assistant professor-clinical in The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery.
Dr. Ray, a speech-language pathologist (SLP), guides Ohio State Wexner Medical Center’s newly established Comprehensive Aural Rehabilitation Clinic for adult CI users. Since 2016, she has participated in research to establish a better understanding of aural rehabilitation and how it can benefit adults who have CIs.
She has co-authored several papers and presented at various national conferences on the topic hoping that the clinical care model she and her colleagues are developing becomes standard practice across the country.
Playing a Unique Role
Ohio State neurotologist Aaron Moberly, MD, Dr. Ray’s colleague and research co-investigator, explains the importance of her role: “As a speech-language pathologist, Dr. Ray brings a clinical skill set unique to SLPs to assist patients with hearing loss to develop learning strategies to acclimate to the novel auditory input provided by their cochlear implants.”
Dr. Ray notes that an SLP has traditionally been included in pediatric CI use because children often haven’t learned language by the time of implantation. In the adult world, however, “auditory training rehabilitation is most often carried out by an audiologist in conjunction with self-guided auditory training techniques with limited or no involvement of an SLP.”
The new Aural Rehabilitation Clinic is built on the understanding that adult adaptations to cochlear implants are widely variable and that intervention by an SLP can be critical to the overall success of a patient working to regain speech recognition skills and communicate effectively in their everyday lives.
“There is so much more to a successful implant than simply the surgery and turning the implant on,” says Mark Inman, chief operating officer and administrator for the Eye and Ear Institute at Ohio State. “How one adapts to the implant, how they interpret the sound, and ultimately process the sound is the measure of success. Dr. Ray’s intervention will help improve the success.”
Dr. Ray sees patients preoperatively and postoperatively. She provides structured, individualized auditory training, helping individuals acclimate their brains to speech sounds for improved communication. She addresses patients’ individual weaknesses and guides them as they work toward their own goals for communication.
A native of central Ohio, Dr. Ray received her master’s degree in speech and hearing science from The Ohio State University. From there, Dr. Ray worked for four years in Ohio State’s Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery.
“Working in an academic medical center surrounded by incredible talent and colleagues invested in collaboration, teaching and learning really enhanced my own passion for the same things,” Dr. Ray says. “I was inspired to go back and get my PhD [at Ohio State] and subsequently have been lucky to return to the department, where exceptional patient care is driven by a culture that encourages strategic and divergent thinking among a highly motivated and capable team of professionals.”
She adds, “I’m drawn to collaborative, innovative projects and continuous improvement. This is a great opportunity for all of those things!”