Senior Project Jumpstart!

Natania A -

Hey everyone! I will be visiting Paseo Village for the first time tomorrow to officially start my research project. However, the process leading up to this point has been a lengthy one. Preparing for the start of my project, I composed an informed consent form for the potential participants of my study and gained IRB approval from school, as well as approval from the facility. After reviewing my project proposal, as well as the language assessment I will be using, my site mentor not only approved of my project, but also connected me with two other facilities, Fairmont Village and Sunshine Village, allowing me to expand my project and to increase my potential sample size. I have been looking forward to beginning my project and am excited to meet the staff, the patients, and my site mentor, Dr. L, at Paseo Village tomorrow. 

I have also created a playlist with songs that I am expecting most of the residents to be familiar with. I have included popular songs during the 1960s, such as “Do Re Mi” from the “Sound of Music,” “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers, and “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond, to list a few.

My first goal once I enter the facility will be to identify patients who will be eligible to participate in my study. I will then need to explain the nature of my study, including possible risks and benefits, to each of the potential participants and give them or their legal guardians informed consent forms to sign. I am anticipating that the process of obtaining consent from patients and families will take about one to two weeks, after which I can have patients listen to the music and can begin administering the language tests.

The language assessment is designed to test one’s morphological, phonological, phonetic, and syntactic processes, which I have described in detail in my project proposal. There are two versions of the assessment of similar difficulty. Here is a link to the language tests for reference: 

Although not directly related to my project, I also had the opportunity to observe Senate hearings yesterday at the state capitol with a nurse practitioner at Paseo Village. Specifically, I attended the Health and Human Services committee hearing, during which the Senate was hearing bills and testimonials relating to the access to healthcare for patients with psychiatric disorders. Astonished to learn that many patients with acute psychosis were not able to receive the proper care they needed and that there were current bills being introduced in order to reform AZ state law, I felt fortunate that I was able to support the cause yesterday and am further motivated to serve these underserved populations. 

Thank you for reading and feel free to reach out with any questions!

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    Natania, I am so excited to hear that your project may be expanding to a few other centers. Do you think that the different types of music will have different impacts on patient performance? I am also so impressed to hear that you observed the Senate hearings and were able to draw some connections to your project. Access to psychiatric care is such a pertinent issue!
    Hi Natania. I think this project ties in with the desired outcome of my project as well in regards to judging speech improvement. An ambitious thought: What if the model I am working on that rates speech quality could apply to other diseases besides laryngeal dystonia? LD is a motor disorder where the muscles in the neck spasm, causing breaks. How do the four diseases you mentioned previously affect speech? I would assume the difference between LD and those four is Broca's vs. Wernicke's area.
    Hi Natania! I'm so impressed by your experience with the state Senate hearings on psychiatric care. I'm also so excited to see the progress you made regarding possibly expanding your sample size and designing your consent forms! I had a question: what are your specific eligibility criteria, and how often will you be administering the language tests after listening sessions?
    Brittany Holtzman
    Hi Natania! What an opportunity to get to observe the Senate hearings! I can't wait for you to start your internship! It sounds like you will be able to get a good sample size as long as patients are willing to participate.
    Hi Aanand! For eligibility, the main criteria is whether the patient's primary diagnosis falls into one or more of the four disorders I'll be testing: Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Schizophrenia, or Bipolar Disorder, and of course, their or their guardian's willingness to participate in the study. I will be having patients listen to music 10 minutes prior and during the examination and will be administering 2 tests of similar difficulty 3 weeks apart from each other. Patients will only be listening to music during one of the examinations. Half of the participants will have music the first time and half will have music the second time.
    Hi Rohan! That would be very interesting to investigate whether you could apply your model to neurological disorders or other disorders that affect speech production! In terms of the four disorders that I am testing, Parkinson's is also a motor disorder that disrupts motor speech, or in other words, the articulation of words and ability to make certain sounds. Alzheimer's, on the other hand, affects patients' fluency and word comprehension. They have trouble naming people or objects, and often simply repeat words that they hear. Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are a bit different, as they are psychiatric disorders. Patients with bipolar disorder experience a lack of speech during their depressive phase and excessive speech during their manic phase. Similarly, patients with schizophrenia, specifically with negative symptoms, tend to speak less, have long pauses, and often speak with a monotone voice. As you can see, Broca's and Wernicke's can definitely play a role, but there are many aspects of language that are affected in these patients.
    Thank you Ms. Bennett! I am expecting some patients to become more animated from the music than others, as the music will inevitably stand out to some more than others. However, I have chosen a wide selection of songs from the 60's with the hope that there are at least a few songs that trigger positive emotions in each participant, thereby improving their mood, attention, and language abilities. The list of songs will also be standardized for all participants.
    Alana Rothschild
    It is amazing that your site mentor connected you with other facilities to include in your research. That is such a testament to your preparation and tenacity- way to go! How did your visit go at Paseo Village??? Keep up the good work!
    Arya Bhakta
    Hi Natania! This is such a unique project. Best of luck!

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