Speech & Hearing
The Pen Bay Speech and Hearing Center is dedicated to serving the communication needs and addressing swallowing disorders in our community, from newborns to senior citizens. We are a department of Pen Bay Medical Center, providing audiology and speech pathology services. We offer a team approach to audiology, communication and swallowing services. Our program is staffed by speech pathologists and an audiologist, who are certified by the American Speech and Hearing Association. Speech pathology and audiology services are available on the acute care level at Pen Bay Medical Center and for outpatients at PBMC.
We believe that the family is the key ingredient to successful intervention, whether for children with developmental delays, or adults recovering from a brain injury or dealing with a loss of hearing. We provide family-focused evaluations and therapy. For children, this means that parents attend the sessions with their children. A spouse, close friends or other caregivers may accompany adults. By playing an active role in the evaluation and therapy sessions, family members gain a better understanding of the communication needs of their loved one.
The Pen Bay Speech and Hearing Center is dedicated to serving the communication needs and addressing swallowing disorders in our community, from newborns to senior citizens. It is a department of Pen Bay Medical Center, providing audiology, speech pathology and pediatric PT/OT services.
Pen Bay Medical Center is an integrated health care system. This enables PBSHC to follow adult patients from the acute stage of illness in PBMC to skilled nursing rehabilitation at the Knox Center or Quarry Hill and finally to our outpatient clinic as the patient’s recovery progresses.
When appropriate, consultations are provided to local schools for children and in the workplace for adults. Through our affiliation with PBMC, we work closely with physicians to provide a thoroughly integrated approach to therapy.
Audiological Services for Children & Adults
- Complete hearing evaluations
- Balance testing
- Hearing aid evaluations
- Aural rehabilitation
- Hearing aids
- Fitting, repair, maintenance
- The latest in digital technology
Services for Adults
The Pen Bay Speech and Hearing Center, a division of Pen Bay Medical Center, is pleased to provide a range of communications services to adults.
- Adult dysphagia (difficulty or discomfort in swallowing)
- Balance testing
- Head injuries
- Voice disorders
- Speech Treatment for Parkinson's patients
- Acute care rehabilitation at PBMC
Dizziness is one of the most difficult complaints to assess because it is a subjective sensation that cannot be directly and objectively measured. Dizziness frequently represents many separate overlapping sensations that can be caused by a multitude of different pathophysiologic processes. Dizziness also is one of the most common patient complaints seen in ambulatory care today and therefore clinicians in almost all disciplines will be faced with evaluating this difficult problem.
Evaluation and treatment of patients with dizziness will differ significantly once the category of dizziness has been determined. A vestibular disorder is described as a sensation of spinning and is accompanied by nystagmus that patients may report as a feeling that their eyes were rapidly snapping or jerking to and fro. This will relate to a sensation that the environment around them is moving. Patients with vestibular dysfunction may equate the feeling to a sensation of having motion sickness and describe feelings of imbalance, as though they were falling or leaning to one side. Vertigo is often aggravated by head movements. This is often obvious in patients who complain of dizziness stimulated by specific situations such as driving in traffic or shopping in a busy supermarket. Other symptoms include nausea and vomiting or changes in auditory or neurologic skills. The most enduring and commonly used test of vestibular function is the VNG. The latest technology utilizes infrared video cameras recording the movement of each eye.
Dysarthria, the difficulty of speaking and dysphagia, the difficulty of swallowing can be limiting symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and can be helped through a speech pathologist. A program called the Lee Silverman Voice Therapy Program, has been developed and has demonstrated great value to those with Parkinson’s disease.
Pen Bay Speech and Hearing offers the Lee Silverman Voice Therapy Program helps reverse the decline of patients speech by focusing on increasing volume through a set of intense exercises.
Virtually every person (89 percent) with Parkinson Disease will have problems with speech. These start early in the disease process and progressively diminish quality of life.
Common speech problems include:
- Soft voice
- Mumbled speech
- Monotone speech
- Hoarse voice
What is an audiologist?
An audiologist is a professional specializing in prevention, assessment, and non-medical management of hearing disorders.
The audiologist's scope of practice includes assessment and rehabilitation of balance system dysfunctions.
Audiologists must hold a graduate degree in Audiology, be certified by the American Speech and Hearing Association and be state certified. They are required to pass a demanding national competency examination. Our certified audiologists will administer a complete diagnostic evaluation and recommend the most advanced treatment available which may include hearing aid amplification. Audiologists refer patients to physicians when the hearing problem needs medical or surgical evaluation.
Why should I see an audiologist?
Audiologists hold masters or doctoral degrees from accredited universities with special training in the prevention, identification, assessment and non-medical treatment of hearing disorders.
By virtue of their education, training, and licensing, they are the most qualified professionals to assess hearing disorders.
What are the symptoms of hearing loss?Do you...
- Often feel tired or stressed during conversation?
- Avoid social situations?
- Find yourself denying hearing problems?
- Often misunderstand conversations?
- Turn up the volume on your TV so loud that others complain?
- Have difficulty understanding speech in noisy places?
If you experience many of these symptoms consistently, you may have a hearing loss. About one in ten Americans do. In adults over 65, 40% experience hearing loss.
Why do I have a hearing loss?Possible causes of hearing loss include:
- Deterioration of the hearing system due to the normal aging process.
- Damage to the hearing system due to serious illness, medications, or heredity.
- Problems such as ear infections, injury, ear disease or excessive ear wax.
- Damage to the hearing system due to prolonged exposure to loud noise.
If I have a hearing loss, why do loud sounds bother me?Most people with hearing loss are more sensitive to loud sounds than are people with normal hearing. This hypersensitivity to loudness, called recruitment, is caused by the physiology of the inner ear.
Today's hearing aids are much more successful at compensating for loudness sensitivity. With the use of microchips, automatic signal processing and digital technology, today's hearing aids can provide extra amplification for soft sounds and less amplification as sounds get louder.
How does hearing loss affect my family?
Often people find it difficult to accept that they have a hearing loss. They may wait several years to seek help, causing irritation, impatience and stress within their family.Realization and acceptance can med these family challenges.
What are general affects of hearing loss?
These are some of the affects of untreated hearing loss:
- Sadness and depression
- Worry and anxiety
- Lessened social activity
- Emotional turmoil and insecurity
Why should I choose an audiologist for hearing aids?
This is an important question. Your audiologist can advise you if hearing aids are recommended for your hearing loss. Hearing aids alone may not be an instant answer to your hearing problems. They should be a part of a program that includes complete testing, careful counseling, instruction and follow-up. Today's hearing aids are much more complex than in the past. To use them correctly requires a complete understanding of hearing loss. Such diagnosis is a specialty of audiologists.
What can an audiologist do for my balance and dizziness problems?
Approximately 85 percent of all dizziness and vertigo can be attributed to an inner ear disorder. Audiologists are trained to perform detailed evaluations of balance and equilibrium. They participate as full members of vestibular rehabilitation teams to recommend and carry out goals of vestibular rehabilitation therapy including, for example, habituation exercises, balance retraining exercises, and general conditioning exercises.
Pen Bay Speech and Hearing provides personal service to find the best hearing aid for you.
Hearing aids are the primary means of managing hearing loss that cannot be treated medically or surgically. Your audiologist at Pen Bay Speech and Hearing Center will conduct a comprehensive hearing evaluation to determine whether or not you are a candidate for hearing aids. Based on your evaluation, the audiologist may recommend hearing aids or make a referral to investigate medical or surgical options.
There are three major components to a hearing aid. The microphone picks up the sound, the amplifier makes the sound louder, and the receiver (speaker) delivers the sound. Digital technology offers an additional sound-processing chip within the hearing aid that manipulates the incoming speech signal to allow for clearer and more comfortable understanding, especially in noise. Most hearing aids today are completely automatic, while others (when necessary) still offer user-adjustable controls. Your audiologist will work with you to review hearing aid options. The two of you will select the best configuration for your particular needs.
Hearing Aid FAQs
What is a hearing aid?
A hearing aid is a small electronic device that you wear in or behind your ear. It makes some sounds louder so that a person with hearing loss can listen, communicate, and participate more fully in daily activities. A hearing aid can help people hear more in both quiet and noisy situations. However, only about one out of five people who would benefit from a hearing aid actually uses one. A hearing aid has three basic parts: a microphone, amplifier, and speaker. The hearing aid receives sound through a microphone, which converts the sound waves to electrical signals and sends them to an amplifier. The amplifier increases the power of the signals and then sends them to the ear through a speaker.
How can hearing aids help?
Hearing aids are primarily useful in improving the hearing and speech comprehension of people who have hearing loss that results from damage to the small sensory cells in the inner ear, called hair cells. This type of hearing loss is called sensorineural hearing loss. The damage can occur as a result of disease, aging, or injury from noise or certain medicines. A hearing aid magnifies sound vibrations entering the ear. Surviving hair cells detect the larger vibrations and convert them into neural signals that are passed along to the brain. The greater the damage to a person’s hair cells, the more severe the hearing loss, and the greater the hearing aid amplification needed to make up the difference. However, there are practical limits to the amount of amplification a hearing aid can provide. In addition, if the inner ear is too damaged, even large vibrations will not be converted into neural signals. In this situation, a hearing aid would be ineffective.
How can I find out if I need a hearing aid?
If you think you might have hearing loss and could benefit from a hearing aid, visit your physician, who may refer you to an otolaryngologist or audiologist. An otolaryngologist is a physician who specializes in ear, nose, and throat disorders and will investigate the cause of the hearing loss. An audiologist is a hearing health professional who identifies and measures hearing loss and will perform a hearing test to assess the type and degree of loss.
How Are Referrals Made?
Physicians may refer directly to Pen Bay Speech and Hearing Center for children and adults. Referrals are also received from the state agency, Child Development Services, under the direction of a physician.
How Is Payment Made?
Many of the services at PBSHC are covered by private insurance, Medicare, MaineCare or Child Development Services. PBMC has a Free Care Services program for families who qualify based on income guidelines. Families are welcome to contact PBSHC directly with questions, concerns or to schedule an appointment.