February 8, 2018

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Communication Sciences and Disorders Students Gain Hands-On Experience

VALDOSTA — A group of graduate students from Valdosta State University’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders recently gained hands-on experience in working with the elderly. 

Dr. R. Renee Hannibal said that her CSD 5120: Aphasia and Other Neurogenic Disorders class spent several weeks working with the elderly residents of PruittHealth-Lakehaven, a skilled nursing and rehabilitation center located in Valdosta. The students were able to put their classroom knowledge into practice as they observed each resident in an effort to identify any memory, orientation, problem-solving, reasoning, comprehension, and/or hearing problems.

Hannibal’s Aphasia and Other Neurogenic Disorders course focuses on the diagnostic and therapeutic principles related to aphasia, traumatic brain injury, and progressive neurological communication disorders.

Throughout the experience, the students were also able to work alongside the PruittHealth-Lakehaven activity director, which allowed them the opportunity to engage with and get to know the elderly residents. They helped with meal planning and played Bingo. They read letters and newspapers. They listened to stories about the good old days. They participated in various group activities planned for the residents.

Hannibal said the partnership between VSU’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and PruittHealth-Lakehaven has been going strong for nearly 15 years. It helps the students fulfill the adult interaction component of their academic program and to gain experience working with persons who suffer from cognitive, communicative, and swallowing problems.

“Some of my students told me that this was the first time they had ever visited a skilled nursing and rehabilitation center,” shared Hannibal, associate professor and certified speech-language pathologist.  “Many of them reported that this project had truly impacted their lives and left a lasting impression on them. A few decided to continue working with the center as a volunteer.”

The Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at VSU is committed to engaging students in learning, research, clinical practice, and service. This mission is based on artistic, humanistic, scientific, and cultural principles related to communication disorders. It offers a Bachelor of Science in Education in communication disorders, a Master of Education in communication disorders, and a Doctor of Speech-Language Pathology in communication sciences and disorders. It also operates the on-campus Speech and Hearing Clinic, which offers hearing evaluations, communication and cognitive evaluations, and therapeutic services to men, women, and children from the South Georgia area.

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