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Vocal Parts, Vocal Fold Pathology, Swallowing, The Ear
CD-ROM Software with Support Cards – comprising four individual products
Blue Tree Publishing Inc.
Reviewed by: Julian McGlashan, Senior Lecturer, QMC Nottingham
The Blue Tree Publishing Company's website (www.bluetreepublishing.com) claim to be leaders in multimedia software for patient and student education. The above 4 titles however appear to be the first four products they have produced but it is evident from the website that they have more in the pipeline. Each product consists of a CD-ROM that comes with a set of laminated support cards showing some of the images from the CD-ROM. The support cards can be bought separately but if you buy the CD they are included in the price. You need a Windows PC (or Mac PPC format) running at 400MHz or better, a sound card with MIDI and 100MB per programme on the hard drive (280MB for Vocal Pathology). Loading the programs and installing QuickTime (which runs the movies and comes with the CDs) was extremely straightforward.
On launching the programme main screen invites you to click on one of three icons: Head View, Larynx View and Vocal Folds View. Each consists of a set of schematic diagrams of the relevant anatomical region that can be seen either as still or animated images. For instance, in the Larynx View clicking on the relevant icon enables the larynx to be seen in different perspectives including cross-section. Unfortunately there are some basic errors in labelling of some of the muscles and accompanying text such as the posterior cricoarytenoid muscle being labelled as the cricothyroid muscle in one of the images. In the Head View there is a small animation of the insertion of a rigid and flexible endoscope, although the images of the endoscopes from different perspectives, seems rather superfluous. The Vocal Fold View allows you to see an animated view of the vocal fold vibration and stroboscopic images of normal larynges.
Overall I think these are excellent teaching aids for students although it is a shame about the wrong labelling. At the end of the program there is rather a bizarre game in which you have to assemble a larynx from its various constituent parts, each of which drop from the top of the screen and I think you get a score on how quickly you can assemble one. There are no instructions and I shall ask my son for advice!
Vocal Fold Pathology
This CD follows the same format in that there are several icons on the main screen to click on covering malignant, benign, neurological and inflammatory lesions of the larynx. There are a series of good quality still images and excellent movie sequences of the vocal folds vibrating and during respiration available for viewing and usually three for each condition. There is an additional icon you can click on which gives the relevant CSL graph for a typical patient with each condition although there is little explanatory information to help interpret the findings. For each patient there is a small text field giving some clinical information and also a brief description of the main features seen. The images have been recorded by Dr C Richard Stasney, at the Texas Voice Centre and appear to be the first module of a series and I think this is an excellent teaching aide for students and trainees covering the basic pathologies and their laryngo-stroboscopic appearance.
This CD is fairly basic with rather simplistic diagrams such as a 'food bolus' passing from the mouth to the stomach which is really at a 6th Form biology level. There are some images of the posterior aspect of the larynx and hypopharynx, some slightly better animation views of the phases of swallowing accompanied by some video-fluoroscopic images.
The Ear CD covers the basic anatomy of the external, middle and inner ear using schematic illustrations and some video images of the tympanic membrane. It provides a reasonable introduction to anatomy and physiology of the ear and is an aide to study.
Overall the Publishers have done an excellent job in creating good quality diagrams and CDs, which are extremely easy to navigate through and use. The Vocal Parts and Ear CDs would be useful for medical students, speech therapy students as an adjunct to their teaching but the Swallowing CD is only of limited use in my opinion. The Vocal Pathology CD is very well done as a good teaching aide for ENT trainees and Speech Therapists and I look forward to further CDs in this series.
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