Fall 2004

Crossroads Speech & Hearing--
Helping Patients For More Than 20 Years

by John Fries

The speech and hearing professionals at Crossroads Speech & Hearing, Inc. in McMurray have operated a successful practice for more than 20 years. During that time, they’ve helped countless patients, including a few generations of family members, and numerous neighbors. They’ve worked hard to earn their patients’ trust and confidence, and have always placed patients’ needs as their top priority.

Much can happen in two decades. For example, there was a time in the not-too-distant past when hearing aids were cumbersome and the "aid" they provided was good, but not great. However, times and technology both change, and today the Crossroads staff are proud to be among the first professionals in the U.S. to offer new a radical new approach to helping people hear better than ever.

A few months ago, two Crossroads audiologists—Susan Hodges, M.A., CCC-A and Asha Bhashyam, M.A., CCC-A—were among 300 hearing care professionals from across the US who were invited to participate in an advanced hearing technology conference presented by Oticon Inc., a leading manufacturer of hearing aids. The highlight of the conference was the introduction of the Oticon Syncro, a new, state-of-the art hearing aid that uses artificial intelligence to mimic the way sound is processed by the brain.

By making up to 17,000 intelligent calculations per second, the Syncro significantly improves speech understanding in loud environments. "Most hearing aids amplify every sound in the environment and can’t distinguish between foreground and background sounds," said Hodges. "So, a person speaking to you and a car going down the street can have equal volume through the same device. The Oticon Syncro, on the other hand, is the first hearing aid that’s able to sort all the sound."

A computer chip enables the Syncro to recognize and prioritize multiple sound bands and frequencies, thus reducing background noise. "This provides the wearer with the most natural sound available in a hearing aid to date," said Hodges.

Crossroads was established in McMurray in 1981 by directors Kathryn L Rector, M.S., CCC-SLP and Christie-Ann Conrad, M.S., CCC-SLP, both licensed, certified speech pathologists. The practice offers individualized speech, language, cognitive-linguistic, voice, swallowing and hearing services throughout western Pennsylvania, providing diagnostic evaluations, therapies, education and counseling. In addition to its office near Donaldson’s Crossroads, there are also outpatient locations in Wexford and West Mifflin.

The Crossroads staff works with both adults and children, presenting with a wide range of speech language swallowing, and hearing problems. Crossroads therapists are trained in various techniques in working with individuals with stuttering problems. Crossroads therapists also specialize in delivering service to business executives who want to eliminate regional an/or foreign accents. On-site corporate classes and worksite individual treatment sessions are available upon request.

Although many of the services provided by Crossroads focuses on pre-existing conditions, Hodges offers two bits of advice for long-term ear health: "Use earplugs when doing work or participating in activities that involve noise," she said. "This includes using power tools, cutting the lawn with a power mower, and, of course, listening to loud music."

She also recommends not putting anything in your ears, even cotton swabs. "Just clean the outside with a washcloth, and seek medical help if you think you have an obstruction, like excessive ear wax build up."

Crossroads Speech & Hearing, Inc. is located at 205 E. McMurray Road in McMurray. The staff can be reached at 724-941-4434. Office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily and evenings by appointment. The practice accepts most major forms of health insurance and health maintenance organizations when referred by a physician.

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Copyright © 2005 by John Fries, Pittsburgh, PA.
Please direct all correspondence to john@johnfries.com