Audiological Advances for Hearing Loss Treatment
Patricia McCarthy, Ph.D., Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL
Ross J. Roeser, Ph.D., University of Texas-Dallas/Callier Center for Communication Disorders, Dallas, TX
New information about how we hear, as well as the explosion of new technology has made help available for almost everyone with hearing loss.
Improved Identification of Hearing Loss
With recent advancements, it is now possible to perform comprehensive testing to determine:
- If hearing loss exists, even for the youngest populations
- The amount and nature of the hearing loss
- The benefits that are possible through available treatments
Breakthroughs in identification techniques include:
- Universal neonatal hearing screening — to test the hearing of babies within the first 48 hours of life; now required by law in most States. Such tests identify hearing loss in infants so that treatments can begin as soon as possible.
- Auditory brainstem response (ABR) testing — for use with difficult-to-test populations and for medical diagnosis of auditory disorders. The ABR test can be performed on individuals of any age, even the youngest infant. There is no longer any reason to delay referral of infants for hearing evaluation because they are "too young to test."
- Immitance testing — for objective and complete evaluation of middle ear function and assessments of the nerve function of the ear.
- Otoacoustic emissions testing — that provide information regarding the hearing nerve in the inner ear and help identify the cause of hearing loss.
- Special auditory tests — for identification of the exact location of the auditory impairment.
Auditory rehabilitation is now available for individuals of all ages who have hearing loss. New and modernized techniques include:
- specialized educational programs for children with hearing loss
- individually tailored and computerized training in speech reading (lip reading), auditory training, and counseling
- assistance in everyday listening through custom-designed personal hearing aids
- assistance in specific listening situations (telephone, television, and group listening devices) through the use of assistive listening devices
- help for those with profound deafness through the use of cochlear implants, tactile hearing aids, and alerting devices
- benefit to those who suffer from tinnitus (ringing in the ears) through counseling and the use of specially designed tinnitus maskers
Help is now available for almost everyone with a hearing loss.
- If you THINK you have a hearing loss, diagnostic testing is available
- If you KNOW you have a hearing loss, rehabilitation is available