Boys Town National Research Hospital Launches Mobile Hearing Research Trailer
July 22, 2022
What does a national research hospital do when it needs to reach a wider population? It invests in a mobile research trailer, of course!
From ear, nose, and throat services to general pediatric care, orthopedic, internal medicine, and behavioral health, Boys Town National Research Hospital in Omaha, Neb. Is a leader in clinical and research programs focusing on childhood deafness, visual impairment, and related communication disorders.
Over the years, the research at Boys Town has found how to screen newborn babies’ hearing in the U.S. and across the globe. It also discovered how hearing aid technology helps adults and children hear and understand speech, how children listen and learn in noisy environments, and how balance may impact how we learn and remember.
Taking their research on the road
“Dr. Lori Leibold (Director, Center for Hearing Research at Boys Town) has had this vision for – well, I’ve worked with her for seven years and she’s been talking about it the entire time,” said Maggie Miller, Research Audiologist at Boys Town. “The inspiration behind this mobile testing unit is that we can bring research into the community, rather than asking the community to come participate in research in our lab. Therefore, it will make the data that we collect as part of these research studies more representative of these other populations that don’t typically get to come in and participate inside the lab.”
The trailer was years in the making. The team at Boys Town initially reached out to Advantage Trailer before the Covid-19 pandemic. Because of manufacturer closings as well as parts and staffing shortages, the trailer took longer to come to fruition than anticipated. But according to the research team, it was all worth it.
“I had a really hard time envisioning what this was going to look like until it arrived, and when it finally came, it for sure exceeded my expectations,” Miller said. “It’s bigger than I expected; it’s just beautiful. The colors are more vibrant than I thought they were going to be. The floor is wonderful. It’s great. This definitely exceeds our expectations, and I know I’m not the only one who thinks that. I’ve heard that from others in our group too.”
This mobile research trailer is a 28-foot gooseneck built by ATC. The front half houses a countertop for equipment, a space for a portable workstation, and a handicap-accessible wheelchair ramp. The rear of the trailer is a custom-built sound booth with state-of-the-art equipment for testing and research. The gooseneck area is used for storage, accessible from inside or outside. There are two separately controlled air conditioning units – one for the main room and one for the sound booth. There are also plenty of power outlets, USB ports, and HDMI jacks, and the entire trailer has an electric leveling system.
Started with a simple conversation
“We’ve been designing this for about three years. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, there were lots of delays,” Miller said. “This started with just a simple conversation between our lab and Dan Webb (owner of Advantage Trailer), and Dan really brought our vision to life. There was so much back and forth, it was incredible. Lots of emails, Zoom calls, phone calls, sketches, drafts, pictures, and us translating our ideas to Dan, him putting them onto paper, and bringing it to life. It has just been a really cool experience.”
While the hearing research team at Boys Town has its own sound-treated audiometric test booths, including an anechoic chamber, within the hospital in downtown Omaha, being able to take their services mobile will be invaluable –both to the individuals they will be able to reach and to the greater population that will be able to be represented in the research studies.
“The trailer will be used by multiple hearing research and speech and language research labs at Boys Town,” Miller said. “It can be used for testing babies using visual reinforcement audiometry, we can play games with older children to test their hearing, if we need a quiet space for additional speech and language assessments, that can be done inside the booth as well.”
In the short term, the team plans to utilize the mobile hearing research trailer on the west campus at Boys Town to provide hearing screenings to employees and their families five days a week. Longer-term, however, the sky is the limit.
“The greater plan is to make this trailer hit the road and either take it to different neighborhoods and communities within Omaha, or we can take it all around the country if we want to,” Miller said.
Boys Town Adds New Vehicle to Fleet to Help With Future Research via KMTV3 News Now Omaha
Boys Town National Research Hospital Launches Mobile Research Unit via WOWT6 News Omaha
Advantage Trailer takes pride in bringing ideas like this to life. If you could use a custom trailer like this for your brand or organization, please give us a call at 888-280-6695 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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