Screenings event helps community members identify health concerns

Stephanie Howard always thought her son Braxton’s behavior issues were rooted in hard-headedness, but after attending the ECU College of Allied Health Sciences’ free screenings event, she has a new theory.

During the hearing portion of the screenings event, Dr. Hannah Nelson and audiology student Katie Szczepkowski discovered that Braxton, 5, had fluid in both of his ears, which could mean that Braxton’s tendency to ignore instructions might be because he never heard them in the first place.

“He struggles with listening, but we just have chalked it up that he’s hard-headed and he doesn’t want to listen,” said Howard, who traveled from her home in Wilmington for the event. “But this opens it up now to think that maybe he can’t hear us as well as we think he can. We just assumed he could. He’s never had any issues with fluid in his ears that we were aware of, so this was good. I’m glad I came.”

Howard can now take that information to her pediatrician for a referral to an ear, nose and throat specialist for a full diagnosis.

The event, which provided community members with free health and wellness screenings on Friday, May 31, was courtesy of the ECU College of Allied Health Sciences.

The screenings were sponsored by the college’s Speech-Language and Hearing Clinic, the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and the Department of Occupational Therapy — which provided a wide array of assessments for community members of all ages.

Depending on age, participants had the opportunity to be screened for a number of health-related issues. Speech and language assessments included screenings for language skills, speech sounds, fluency, literacy skills, voice, resonance and social communication. Hearing assessments included screenings for tinnitus and hearing aid cleanings. Occupational therapy screenings included social skill assessment, as well as motor and adaptive skill assessment for children. Adults were able to receive instruction on the proper positioning of their computer workstations to avoid strain, and older adults had the opportunity to be assessed for fall risk.

Todd Staton of Greenville attended the event to have his hearing checked. As a sound technician for his church, Staton said he had some concerns about hearing loss.

“I was just curious. I’ve been wanting to have my hearing checked and make sure I’m good at a young age because I don’t want to be 40 with hearing loss,” Staton said. “But, today it seems like everything’s fine.”

The event, now in its second year, was started by the Speech-Language and Hearing Clinic and the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. This year was the first that the Department of Occupational Therapy joined the event. Department chair Dr. Denise Donica said she valued the opportunity to provide students with more interprofessional experience and an additional chance to provide services to the community.

“We really loved the idea of partnering with other disciplines that our students will be working with when they get out into practice,” Donica said.

Todd Staton participates in a hearing evaluation during the free health screenings event.