Updated: Feb 21, 2020
Post by Maren Eikerling (IRCCS - Associazione La Nostra Famigli 'Istituto scientifico Eugenio Medea')
Half of the Training School in Como was already over when the students met early Thursday morning to catch the bus to visit the hospital and research center IRCSS Medea/La Nostra Famiglia in Bosisio Parini - located in Northern Italy, in the middle of the countryside between the Lake of Como and Milan, surrounded by lakes, forests and mountains. In the institute, researchers and clinicians’ work focuses on the diagnosis and rehabilitation of children with impairments of diverse causes and extents.
The visit to the institute consisted of two parts: the morning sessions focused on the role of multilingualism within Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) services, whereas in the afternoon, visits to different labs around the campus gave impressions on the multidisciplinary work carried out in the institution.
Maria Luisa Lorusso presented the results of a previous project carried out by her and the Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP) Sofia Limarzi on SLT practice with multilingual children. In her presentation, she discussed different treatment approaches and addressed problems that SLPs face when treating multilingual children. She reported findings from scientific literature as well as observations derived from the results of a survey completed by SLPs working in the institute. In contrast to the recommendations found in scientific literature, SLPs hardly manage to integrate elements of the first language of their patient. Videos recorded during treatment sessions of three different bilingual children treated in the institute showed some examples of bilingual as well as cross-linguistic intervention and assessment procedures and gave some insight into the SLP’s work. The students discussed further difficulties concerning the treatment of bilingual children with the SLPs working in the institute: Not only the identification of clinical markers in languages they don’t speak is difficult, but even extracting them from scientific literature and design the tasks for the treatment sessions accordingly is very time-consuming an thus hardly feasible in everyday practice. Overwhelmed with the choice of “primo”, “secondo” and “dolce” (1st and 2nd course, dessert) in the refectory during lunch time, the students took a little break strolling around playgrounds and football fields on the campus before starting the tour with visits to the different labs. In the so-called “Grail” and “Astrolab” bioengineers presented, how to use Virtual-Reality-techniques for rehabilitation. Very different treatment and diagnostic approaches were presented in the molecular genetics labs by biologists. Besides that, the students were introduced to fMRI procedures carried out in the institute both in brain/neuro(psychological) research and in clinical diagnosis.
In the “Centro Ausili” (Centre for Assistive Technologies), different communication systems for severely motor and/or cognitively impaired children were presented. The technician pointed out, how simple electronic and non-electronic devices can facilitate communication, presenting applications for tablets, computer softwares and eye-tracking procedures for communication purposes. The students got to try computer mice and keyboards that were specially designed to suit the children’s needs, using colours, bigger buttons and simple, user-friendly mechanisms. At the end of the tour, the students got to visit the Babylab and were provided with information on technologies and current research projects in the field of on neuro-developmental disorders by researcher Chiara Cantiani. Introducing the students to a longitudinal study carried out in the institute starting from infant age, she exemplified the use of the different technologies to assess brain activity as well as motor and behavioural achievements in the typically developing population as well as in children with a clinical diagnosis or with family risk of a neuro-developmental disorder as for example Autism Spectrum Disorder.
More information on the institute
Association “La Nostra Famiglia”
The complex, built in 1963 as a Rehabilitation Center, has become Scientific Institute for Hospitalisation and Treatment (Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico (IRCCS) in 1985. The Association’s mission is “To protect the dignity and improve the quality of life, through health and social rehabilitation interventions, of people with disabilities, especially in developmental age and their families”. According to this mission services for diagnosis, rehabilitation and further support for the disabled person and his family is offered. Besides that, research training, dissemination of knowledge is carried out in the research units. The rehabilitation center offers rehabilitation services for interdisciplinary interventions in different sectors (for example, speech therapy, neuropsychological etc.) through weekly visits or high-frequence multi-specialist and/or intensive rehabilitation treatments or in residential form.
Scientific Institute for Hospitalisation and Treatment (IRCCS E. Medea, Bosisio Parini)
The headquarters of the Institute of Hospitalisation and Treatment (IRCSS) “Eugenio Medea”, the only Italian scientific institute recognised for research and rehabilitation for children has its headquarters in Bosisio Parini. The institute operates at the level of hospitalisation and clinical-diagnostic services operating units and develops scientific research activities in sectors related to diagnostic activities and medical and rehabilitative care.
The research activity of the Bosisio Campus is carried out in the department of neurophysiology and a developmental neuropsychiatric and psychopathology center and has in-house hospital activities and extra-hospital activities with an interdisciplinary team (doctors, psychologists, educationalists, speech therapists, etc.) Research activity represents the fields of language and learning disorders and other neurodevelopmental pathologies.
E-Health for Neuro-Developmental Disorders
The e-health sector arouse from the overlaps of technological development and the growing demand for health services, offering innovative solutions that are also ethically and economically feasable. With better understanding of cognitive and neuropsychological functioning, increasingly sophisticated systems for data collection and measurement of cognitive processes, e.g. language acquisition in typically developing and impaired children, are some of the potentials of the e-health systems. Interdisciplinary teams of clinicians and researchers make it possible to exchange information, support and guide, monitor and intervene, creating the paths to implement health programs by intercepting real social needs.
Our research for e-health tools range from new diagnostic systems to rehabilitation, screening and prevention programs, e-learning and the creation of interactive networks. The evaluation and intervention in learning, language and communication disorders, the management of the most complex interactions related to bilingualism, the enhancement of cognitive development in preschool children, are some of the goals of our current and future projects.