“We spoke to a neurologist at UC Health and other health care providers to determine their needs and how the patient information form could best capture all this data,” says Mamlekar. “Using that input, we created a simple tool to support communication with people who are on a ventilator, wearing masks or are unable to speak because of respiratory challenges.”
The tool includes a page for patients to describe how they are feeling emotionally, if they are worried or have trouble sleeping. There is also a page for the patient to describe the location and severity of any pain they have.
Mamlekar earned her master’s in audiology and speech-language pathology in India and was interested in doing more work with augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), which encompasses the communication methods used to supplement or replace speech or writing for those with impairments in spoken or written language. While working in a medical setting in her hometown of Mumbai, she started applying for positions related to AAC. During that process, she learned of the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA), a professional association for speech–language pathologists, audiologists and speech, language and hearing scientists in the United States and internationally. Through the ASHA, Mamlekar became aware of the work of Aimee Dietz, PhD, professor in CSD in the UC college who specializes in the area of AAC interface design. Mamlekar moved to Cincinnati in 2016 after being accepted into the CAHS doctoral program.
Data about the communication tool will continue to be collected this summer. Mamlekar says she is looking to get feedback from health care providers on ways it can be improved. After that, she plans to write a grant to support transitioning the communication tool to a fully developed application. Learn more about the project here.
Lead image of the Health Sciences Building/Photo/Colleen Kelley/UC Creative + Brand.