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LENA Clinical Research Lab
The LENA Clinical Research Lab is housed in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and is located on the first floor of Waldron Hall. Research is conducted in both the Radford University Speech-Language and Hearing Clinic and in the community by Corey Herd Cassidy, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, and graduate student assistants who are either enrolled in clinical practicum, conducting research for earned fellowships or scholarships, and/or working on theses. The research conducted within this lab focuses on children between the ages of birth through five years who are receiving either clinical intervention or childcare within group service delivery environments. The Language Environment Analysis (LENA) System is used to assess and analyze the outcomes of the services provided.
The LENA System is the world’s first automatic language collection and analysis tool for speech language professionals and parents. The LENA digital language recorders and software provides data, including estimations of Adult Words, Conversational Turns, and Child Vocalizations, from within a child’s natural language environment. These components are all pertinent to the analysis of subjects within a group service delivery environment.
Current research indicates that music can be utilized to reach specific speech and language goals with children as young as infants and toddlers. Over the past two years, Dr. Cassidy has collaborated with Dr. Trish Winter, Assistant Professor in the Music Therapy Department, to investigate the impact of music therapy approaches on the speech and language development of toddlers and preschool aged children enrolled in the Radford University Preschool Language Lab. This project has provided opportunities for students in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and Music Therapy students to collaborate in designing and implementing music therapy and speech/language approaches to support speech, language, and communication development in young children with a variety of disorders and diagnoses. Music is incorporated into each session of the Preschool Language Lab to address interaction, imitation, articulation, and sound blending skills; to promote social interaction; and to encourage practice and generalization of target skills. The LENA system has been used to study the efficacy and impact of the music-based activities on the clients’ vocalizations, initiations, and interactions within the group intervention model. This collaboration was initially funded thorough a mini-grant from the College of Visual and Performing Arts and has since been funded with a University Wide Interdisciplinary Research Award. Preliminary findings from this project have been presented by faculty and graduate students at the American Speech Language Hearing Association’s national convention, the annual conference of the Speech-Language-Hearing Association of Virginia, and the American Music Therapy Association’s national conference.