MQ Health - Macquarie University

Hearing, speech and language

MQ Health’s collaborative and pioneering approach is fostering opportunities for innovation in hearing, speech and language. Tackling the challenges of assessment, prevention and intervention, MQ Health researchers are leading the way forward, ensuring wide dispersion of knowledge, delivering models of best practice, and influencing healthcare policy at a national level.

Assessment and intervention for aphasia

Aphasia is a condition caused by damage to the areas of the brain that process language. It affects an individual's ability to understand and produce spoken and written language, and can have a devastating impact on many aspects of their life. The most common cause of aphasia is stroke – about one-third of people who have a stroke develop aphasia.

With the vision to improve and transform lives, researchers within MQ Health are conducting ground-breaking research focusing on:

  • how language is represented in the mind and how aphasia changes this,
  • the best ways to rehabilitate language after brain damage, and
  • intervention strategies to support people with aphasia.

Insights from such research support MQ Health’s speech pathologists to work directly with those who have aphasia. Our expert team provides evidence-based assessment and intervention, which is specifically tailored to the needs of people with aphasia and their families.

Understanding the brain to improve audiology diagnostics, devices and interventions

The brain adapts to the stimulation it receives, and when it comes to hearing, it adapts to the sounds, speech and music it is exposed to. Typically, the brain adapts more effectively for young children who are developing their language skills than for those adults who have lost their hearing over time, and therefore have used different types of amplification technologies to help them deal with their hearing loss. Therefore, in adults with hearing loss, it is difficult to estimate the quality of speech stimulation their brain has received and, consequently, how it has adapted to hearing loss. In addition, current standard audiology tests are limited in their ability to inform about real-life, everyday listening difficulties.

MQ Health strives to develop more real-life evaluations of listening and to gain a better understanding of how the brain adapts to hearing loss, and further adapts to interventions such as hearing aids, cochlear implants and training. In this way, MQ Health clinicians and researchers are able to deliver the best hearing solutions for those adults with hearing loss.

Designing patient-centred and evidence-based hearing healthcare services, pathways and solutions

Today there are many solutions available that support those with hearing difficulties. However, the uptake of these solutions is estimated to be low. Why is this the case?

First, there are a few resources out there to help people objectively compare the solutions available. Second, no standard referral pathway exists throughout the lifetime to support hard-of-hearing individuals and their families in their learning, work and social environments.

With these challenges in mind, MQ Health’s Centre for Implementation of Hearing Research was established to rethink and redesign existing service models, with the aim of improving the services and quality of life for those with hearing difficulties. This includes the way that we develop, conduct and interpret research projects – and how we can then share this knowledge with clinicians involved in hearing healthcare such as audiologists; ear, nose and throat specialists; and GPs; as well as with clients.