Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sharpen Your Senses & Improve Safety

Leaves rustle, a twig snaps, your prey moves. To hit your target you must properly interpret the sounds of nature. Siemens SecureEar enhances the sounds around you, and protects your hearing by suppressing loud impulse noises, like a gun shot.
Good eyesight and a steady hand are essential when you’re hunting, and so is a keen sense of hearing. But the loud blasts of a rifle or shotgun pose a dilemma: while wearing uncomfortable muffs to protect your ears from the gun noise, you might not be able to hear the game, or your companions.
Introducing SecureEar, the new hearing protection solution from Siemens. This small instrument is ideal if you want to protect your hearing but you don’t want to miss the snap of a twig in the woods. And it’s not just for hunting; SecureEar is also recommended for use in situations where there are sudden loud noises like those coming from motor sports, car races, or environments where blasting equipment is used.

Exact fit.

SecureEar is worn inside the ear canal. A Hearing Care Professional fits the instrument individually based on an impression of your ear. The exact fit of the instrument acts like a plug that dampens gun noise. This high passive protection can reduce the blast of a rifle by up to 35 dB SNR (NRR under evaluation).

Acoustic telescope.

SecureEar also incorporates hearing technology that picks up and slightly amplifies the sounds relevant for hunting (including soft sounds like leaves rustling or a normal conversation). It acts like an acoustic telescope which you can adjust to suit the occasion.

Sound expertise.

As a world leader in the field of audiology, Siemens delivers top sound quality. SecureEar utilizes a four-channel chip with digital
processing. This helps suppress sounds coming from loud shop tools, lawn mowers, and other similar equipment, while enhancing speech and other soft sounds.

Uncompromised hearing.

The instrument settings are pre-defined for optimum impulse noise protection as well as loud noise suppression – without any compromise to hearing and understanding.

SecureEar is built to your individual needs.

  • Custom made exactly to your ear shape
  • Fits comfortably in the ear
  • Does not get in the way when shooting (unlike muffs)
  • Dampens gun noise by up to 35 dB SNR (NRR under evaluation)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hearing Aids Improve Quality of Life, Empower People with Hearing Loss to Stay Socially Active,

September 7, 2011—Edison Stanford Hearing Center is helping Salt Lake City residents with hearing loss regain their quality of life and remain socially active by raising awareness of a new comprehensive research study that shows how today’s technically advanced, sleekly designed hearing aids benefit people’s lives. According to the findings of the study, conducted by the Better Hearing Institute (BHI), eight out of ten hearing aid users say they are satisfied with the changes that have occurred in their lives specifically due to their hearing aids. And 82 percent of hearing aid users say they’d recommend hearing aids to their friends.
“These findings are both timely and encouraging,” says Paul Lloyd, BC-HIS, ACA. “More and more people are suffering from noise-induced hearing loss at younger and younger ages. But what many people don’t realize is how dramatically the quality of their lives can improve with the use of hearing aids.”
According to this comprehensive study of more than 2,000 hearing aid users, nearly 70 percent of respondents said their ability to communicate effectively in most situations improved because of their hearing aid. A little more than half said their hearing aids improved their relationships at home, their social life, and their ability to join in groups. And roughly forty percent noted improvements in their sense of safety, self-confidence, feelings about self, sense of independence, and work relationships. Between 25 and 33 percent of hearing aid users said they even saw improvements in their romance, sense of humor, cognitive skills, and mental, emotional, and physical health.
According to Lloyd, outdated notions about hearing aids pose a significant barrier that inhibits people from addressing their hearing loss. All told, public perception of hearing aids hasn’t kept pace with the new technologies and discreet designs of today’s modern devices. And unfortunately, these misperceptions are holding people back from addressing their hearing loss and improving their quality of life.
The BHI study bears out that 79 percent of people who do seek help and use hearing aids are satisfied with them, and 86 percent are satisfied with the benefit they derive from hearing aid usage.
What’s more, as hearing aid technologies advance, individuals are becoming even more satisfied. Consumers, for example, are more satisfied with mini-BTEs than ever before and report superior sound quality, cosmetics, and functionality in more listening situations. In fact, in recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids because they have become miniaturized and nearly invisible due to the fact that an ear-mold is no longer necessary.
Ninety-one percent of all hearing aid users surveyed are satisfied with the ability of their hearing aids to improve communication in one-on-one situations. And more than three in four are satisfied in small groups (85%), while watching television (80%), outdoors (78%), during leisure activities (78%), while shopping (77%), and while riding in a car (77%).
“Today’s hearing aids are about staying young, not growing old,” explains Sergei Kochkin, PhD, BHI’s Executive Director, who authored the study. “People want to hold onto their vitality as they enter and move through middle-age. But when someone ignores a hearing loss—which oftentimes has progressed gradually over time as a result of repeated noise exposure—that individual unwittingly begins losing the very vitality they treasure. What this research shows, however, is that those who do face their hearing loss and use hearing aids are experiencing significant and satisfying improvements in their quality of life.”
Another important take-away from the study is that benefit received from the hearing aid, and quality of life improvements, were highly related to the quality of care provided by the hearing healthcare professional. Ideally, hearing health professionals will include testing in a sound booth; use probe microphones to verify the hearing aid fit; use an array of counseling tools to help people hear better and adapt to their hearing aids; and validate improvement in hearing associated with hearing aid use.

“I strongly urge people in Salt Lake City to make an appointment to get their hearing checked today,” says Lloyd. “Because hearing loss typically happens so gradually, it’s difficult for people to understand the full extent of the loss and the negative impact it has had on their well-being. But the good news is that hearing aids can help the vast majority of people with hearing loss regain their quality of life.”

To help consumers in purchasing hearing aids, and to guide them in what to look for in quality hearing healthcare, BHI has published a comprehensive publication entitled, "Your Guide to Buying Hearing Aids," which is available at

The four-part BHI survey used the National Family Opinion Panel to assess consumer perceptions of the functionality of modern hearing aids; compared the new invisible mini-BTE hearing aids to traditional style hearing aids; asked respondents to share how their lives changed as a result of their hearing aids; and evaluated the role the hearing healthcare professional had on consumer success with hearing aids.

Edison Stanford Hearing Centers of Utah have been helping individuals improve their quality of life through amplification and hearing loss correction for more than 30 years. With two locations in the Wasatch Valley, we are dedicated to educating and assisting the public with complimentary hearing evaluations and screenings.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Free Hearing Aid Guides

Launching today you can download three separate buyers guides for hearing aids, including:

  • Your Guide to Hearing Aids
  • Your Guide to Buying Hearing Aids
  • Your Guide to Hearing Aid Financing
To download, simply visit:

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Edison Stanford Hearing Centers of Utah Walk4Hearing Team

Edison Stanford Hearing Centers of Utah has created a team for the Walk4Hearing event scheduled in Sugar House Park on October 12, 2011. This event is to help increase awareness about hearing loss and hearing loss treatment. To donate to the team, or learn more, please visit Walk4Hearing.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Aural Education and Rehabilitation

Once hearing loss has been identified, it is essential that the next step includes education and counseling on the options available to help improve communication. There is a common misconception that hearing aids represent a cure for hearing loss. In reality, hearing aids are simply a tool to aid in the rehabilitative process. With realistic goals and knowing what to expect from hearing aids, an individual suffering from hearing loss can be successful in improving communication and understanding through amplification. This process takes dedication, commitment, and help from a hearing health care professional.


Knowledge is power, and the first step to improving hearing loss is to be properly informed. All aspects of hearing loss should be covered by a hearing health care professional. From type and degree of hearing loss, tools for communication, and preventative and rehabilitative recommendations, the more an individual understands about the issue, the better decisions they can make to correct it.
If, after a through hearing exam is performed and amplification is recommended, a hearing health care professional should provide a step-by-step guide to the fitting and aural rehabilitation process. Before continuing with a fitting, the individual should conduct some of their own research in the types of hearing instruments available, how the adjustment process works, and the use of communication strategies to help aid in the rehabilitation process. The hearing health care professional should offer support and information in all of these areas, including several amplification options for your specific loss, as well as outlining a level of support after being fit with hearing aids.
Creating that support group of family and friends is key to the success of the individual who suffers from hearing loss. Educating these close individuals during the decision process allows them to better understand the hearing difficulties facing the individual and options available with today’s technology.

Expectations and Goals

Successful hearing aid use begins with setting realistic goals. Everyone’s needs and expectations are different, and so it is vitally important the hearing impaired sit down, one-on-one, with the hearing health care professional to outline the specific goals and expectations. Understanding what realistic expectations are is the first step. For example, if an individual expects their hearing to return to normal, this is unrealistic for even the most sophisticated hearing instruments available. If, however, the individual expects the hearing aid to ease the effectiveness of communication, this is a more realistic goal. Like many things in life, unrealistic expectations are the main cause of frustration with hearing aids. Including family and friends in the process of setting goals and understanding expectations will also contribute greatly to the success of the individual.
Identifying specific and timely goals is of the utter most importance. For example, most first time hearing instrument users experience fatigue during the first couple of months wearing their hearing aids. It is a good idea to set small goals that include specific levels or increments of hearing aid use. For example, during the first week, the individual might set a goal to wear the hearing instruments for only 2-3 hours per day, and increase the wear time by an hour every week. Other goals might include specific listening environments or situations that are particularly difficult for the individual to communicate in.

Post Fittings Sessions

The rehabilitation process begins immediately after the individual is fit with hearing aids. This process is much more than simply purchasing and wearing the hearing aids. It is imperative that the hearing health care professional provide post-fitting sessions as needed. These sessions are opportunities for the individual and hearing health care provider to work one-on-one verifying the hearing aid fitting, making proper adjustments, counseling on hearing aid use, and providing communication training.

Verification, Counseling, and Communication Strategies

Verification is most often performed using a Real Ear Measurement system. The hearing health care provider inserts a small microphone into the ear canal, along with the hearing instrument, and measures the actual amplified sound reaching the ear drum. This process helps provide objective information that can be compared side-by-side with the audiogram of the individual. It also provides an opportunity for the professional to make adjustments, based on the data, to the hearing aid to ensure a successful and proper fit. Other verification includes subjective situations including speech comprehension tests, and speech in noise tests, that measure the individual’s ability to understand speech in certain listening environments.
Starting with hearing aids can be very challenging. Because most hearing loss occurs gradually over time, the individual can become comfortable living in their quiet world. Small sounds that were once natural, such as footsteps, wind, or clanking dishes, can become a nuisance when brought back at all at once with the aid of hearing instruments. Adjusting is an individual issue and may take weeks or months. The hearing health care professional should be willing to help counsel and guide the individual through this period of adjustment.
Hearing instruments are effective tools for aiding in communication. Like all tools, however, they are only effective if used properly. Often time individuals who have suffered from chronic hearing loss have developed poor listening skills that require adjusting. Once hearing aids have been fit, it is extremely important that the individual’s communication skills be properly addressed. Working one-on-one with your hearing health care professional, the individual should be counseled and guided on improving communication skills including visual cues, environmental manipulation, where to position a listener in different situations, communicating in noise, and many other helpful communication skills.

Group Hearing Aid Orientation

Many hearing health providers are offering group hearing loss rehabilitation services, rather than on an individual basis. These sessions are attended by individuals who suffer from hearing loss, as well as their family and friends or support base. The Hearing Loss Association of America's Utah Chapter meets at 5709 South 1500 West Taylorsville, UT 84123-5217 every Wednesday from 7-9pm. For more information you can visit their website at


When choosing a hearing health care provider, be sure to determine if they will be able to offer the variety of services required. Hearing aids are not a quick fix. Simply purchasing a hearing instrument and wearing it will not ensure a successful fitting or improved quality of life. Hearing instruments are simply tools that must be understood, adjusted, and used properly. If the individual’s motivation is improved communication by proper amplification, learning effective communication strategies, and effective counseling the chances are excellent for a proper fitting.
To learn more, or to schedule a complimentary hearing exam, call us at Salt Lake City 801-485-5595 | Provo 801-373-5887 or visit our website at

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Helping a Loved One with Hearing Loss who doesn’t Want Help

All too often we think we are helping a loved one who suffers from hearing loss, but refuses to use hearing aids, when we repeat ourselves, speak clearly, speak louder or interpret others if they do not understand. In reality we are aiding them in avoiding the help they need. Such efforts, though well intended, impede the individual from seeking the real help they need, hearing aids.

When we do these small things to help a loved one hear and understand they soon become co-dependent upon our ears to do the listening for them. Many individuals with hearing loss don’t realize the degree they’ve come to depend on other’s ears. It only takes a moment however, for them to quickly realize that without help from others they’re in a world of silence. This co-dependency significantly lowers the quality of life for both the individual suffering from hearing loss and the individual on whom they depend. This is why we at Edison Stanford Hearing Aids Centers of Utah recommend the following practical tips to help aid you in motivating an individual with hearing loss to seek appropriate and professional help:
  1. Stop repeating yourself. Explain that you are allowing him, or her, the opportunity to realize the severity their hearing loss has on their ability to function in daily living. This does not mean you need to stop helping the individual all together, rather take a moment to point out the fact that you must repeat yourself often in order for them to understand. Once they notice that this is a common occurrence they will soon realize how much they rely on you to help them hear.
  2. Stop raising your voice.
  3. Stop being the messenger by carrying the communication load for the family. Don’t fall into the “he said” “she said” routine. Your loved one needs to be responsible for getting the information directly from the source.
  4. Do not engage in conversation from another room. As often as this might occur in daily living. Try to avoid it at all costs. It sets up the conversation for failure from the beginning.
  5. Create a telephone need. The same rules apply for the telephone. Don’t become their interpreter for all telephone conversations. Help them to notice their problems hearing on the telephone and create motivation for them to seek professional help.
  6. Schedule a free hearing exam. Once your loved one realizes they need professional help, schedule a complimentary hearing exam at one of our two Utah locations, Salt Lake City (801-485-5595) or Provo (801-373-5887), or visit us on the web at

Friday, July 8, 2011

Hearing Loss and Utah Jobs

Did you know that over 28 million Americans suffer from hearing loss and only 5% have taken steps to treat the problem? When an individual delays a decision to get hearing help, they are unaware of the fact that receiving early treatment for hearing loss has the potential to literally transform their lives. Research by the National Council on the Aging on more than 2,000 people with hearing loss demonstrated that hearing aids clearly are associated with impressive improvements in the social, emotional, psychological, and physical well-being of people with hearing loss in all categories from mild to severe.

Hearing loss treatment was shown to improve: Earning power, communication in relationships, intimacy and warmth in family relationships, ease in communication, emotional stability, sense of control over life events, perception of mental functioning, physical health, and group social participation.

We understand that there is a great possibility some of the employees in Utah suffer from hearing loss and we are offering to help in any way possible. Our office of professional staff is ready to provide a complimentary hearing exam to any of the public over the age of 18. Due to the nature of the testing process, we recommend that the hearing exam is performed in our sound treated office, or for a preliminary evaluation, individuals can take our free 5-min hearing test online at

It is also our pleasure to inform the public that through a new Utah State funded program, individuals whose job performance may be affected by hearing loss could qualify to have hearing aids provided at no charge. Working with the local government office we have already assisted in improving the quality of life for many individuals. We are confident that this has resulted in increased productivity and improved job performance for these individuals. These funds, however, are limited and we strongly recommend starting the process as soon as possible.

Please contact our office at your earliest convenience to set up a free hearing screening for your company. You may reach us, Monday-Friday, at our Salt Lake Office 801-485-5595 or Provo Office 801-373-5887.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Your Guide to Care and Maintenance of Hearing Aids

Do you currently own hearing aids? We are pleased to announce the release of Your Guide to Care and Maintenance of Hearing Aids published by the Better Hearing Institute.

Visit our website to download your free copy of the guide.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Reps Latham & McCarthy Reintroduce Hearing Aid Tax Credit with Support from 36 Representatives

Representatives Tom Latham (R-IA) and Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) today reintroduced the bipartisan Hearing Aid Tax Credit (H.R. 1479) with 36 original co-sponsors, including 4 members of the House Ways and Means Committee. The bill is unchanged from legislation in the 111th Congress that attracted a record 131 co-sponsors by the end of the session. In the Senate, Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) are organizing original co-sponsors as they prepare to reintroduce companion legislation in that chamber.

The Hearing Aid Tax Credit would provide assistance to many of the 34 million people who need hearing aids to treat their hearing loss. Medicare expressly excludes coverage of hearing aids as do most private insurance policies, and as a result, cost is cited as a prohibitive factor by two thirds of the people who do not treat their hearing loss. If enacted, H.R. 1479 would provide a $500 tax credit per hearing aid for children and people age 55 and older. That would be a critical assist since 61% of all hearing aid purchases involve no third party payment of any kind, and only 25% of people who could benefit from hearing aids actual use them according to the latest MarkeTrak report.

HIA’s Chairman, Todd Murray, points out that “given that hearing aids can help 95% of people with hearing loss, it is tragic that the lack of financial assistance continues to create a significant barrier to access for millions of Americans.” The Hearing Aid Tax Credit is actively supported as a way to provide some assistance by hearing health organizations including the Alexander Graham Bell Assn for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell), Hearing Loss Assn of America (HLAA), Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA), American Academy of Audiology (AAA), American Speech Language Hearing Assn (ASHA), American Tinnitus Association (ATA), International Hearing Society (IHS) and Hearing Industries Association (HIA).

The hearing health community has worked as a coalition to focus Congressional attention on the importance of hearing health and the burdens associated with the lack of financial assistance for treatment. In addition to coalition efforts on Capitol Hill, HIA has sponsored local AG Bell, HLAA and IHS chapters that have hosted events for Representatives and Senators in their districts to demonstrate the importance of this legislation to voters. Five local events to thank hearing champions were held in the 111th Congress including programs that attracted 180 people in the Philadelphia suburbs for Rep. Allyson Schwartz; 200 people in Henderson, NV for Rep. Dina Titus; 120 people in suburban Houston for Rep. Pete Olson; 180 people in E. Lansing, MI for Sen Debbie Stabenow and 120 people in La Crosse, WI for Rep. Ron Kind. A total of 13 constituent events have been held since the hearing coalition first started work in support of the tax credit.

In addition, this legislation has attracted dramatic grassroots attention, motivating Americans across the nation to send more than 75,000 emails and letters to their elected Members of Congress since 2008 by visiting Murray notes that “hearing loss is an issue that affects millions of people, and this legislation could have a great impact on their ability to afford hearing aid treatment - we are honored that so many Representatives have recognized this fact and have lent this cause record support.”

HIA, headquartered in Washington, DC, is the national trade association of manufacturers of hearing aids, implantable hearing devices, assistive listening devices, component parts and power sources for amplification devices. Visit for information about the bill, or contact Andy Bopp,

Monday, May 23, 2011

Will We Hear the Light? - Surprising Discovery that Infrared Can Activate Heart and Ear Cells

University of Utah scientists used invisible infrared light to make rat heart cells contract and toadfish inner-ear cells send signals to the brain. The discovery someday might improve cochlear implants for deafness and lead to devices to restore vision, maintain balance and treat movement disorders like Parkinson's.

"We're going to talk to the brain with optical infrared pulses instead of electrical pulses," which now are used in cochlear implants to provide deaf people with limited hearing, says Richard Rabbitt, a professor of bioengineering and senior author of the heart-cell and inner-ear-cell studies published this month in The Journal of Physiology.

The studies - funded by the National Institutes of Health - also raise the possibility of developing cardiac pacemakers that use optical signals rather than electrical signals to stimulate heart cells. But Rabbitt says that because electronic pacemakers work well, "I don't see a market for an optical pacemaker at the present time."

The scientific significance of the studies is the discovery that optical signals - short pulses of an invisible wavelength of infrared laser light delivered via a thin, glass optical fiber - can activate heart cells and inner-ear cells related to balance and hearing.

In addition, the research showed infrared activates the heart cells, called cardiomyocytes, by triggering the movement of calcium ions in and out of mitochondria, the organelles or components within cells that convert sugar into usable energy. The same process appears to occur when infrared light stimulates inner-ear cells.

Infrared light can be felt as heat, raising the possibility the heart and ear cells were activated by heat rather than the infrared radiation itself. But Rabbitt and colleagues did "elegant experiments" to show the cells indeed were activated by the infrared radiation, says a commentary in the journal by Ian Curthoys of the University of Sydney, Australia.

Curthoys writes that the research provides "stunningly bright insight" into events within inner-ear cells and "has great potential for future clinical application."

Shedding Infrared Light on Inner-Ear Cells and Heart Cells

The low-power infrared light pulses in the study were generated by a diode - "the same thing that's in a laser pointer, just a different wavelength," Rabbitt says.

The scientists exposed the cells to infrared light in the laboratory. The heart cells in the study were newborn rat heart muscle cells called cardiomyocytes, which make the heart pump. The inner-ear cells are hair cells, and came from the inner-ear organ that senses motion of the head. The hair cells came from oyster toadfish, which are well-establish models for comparison with human inner ears and the sense of balance.

Inner-ear hair cells "convert the mechanical vibration from sound, gravity or motion into the signal that goes to the brain" via adjacent nerve cells, says Rabbitt.

Using infrared radiation, "we were stimulating the hair cells, and they dumped neurotransmitter onto the neurons that sent signals to the brain," Rabbitt says.

He believes the inner-ear hair cells are activated by infrared radiation because "they are full of mitochondria, which are a primary target of this wavelength."

The infrared radiation affects the flow of calcium ions in and out of mitochondria - something shown by the companion study in neonatal rat heart cells.

That is important because for "excitable" nerve and muscle cells, "calcium is like the trigger for making these cells contract or release neurotransmitter," says Rabbitt.

The heart cell study found that an infrared pulse lasting a mere one-5,000th of a second made mitochondria rapidly suck up calcium ions within a cell, then slowly release them back into the cell - a cycle that makes the cell contract.

"Calcium does that normally," says Rabbitt. "But it's normally controlled by the cell, not by us. So the infrared radiation gives us a tool to control the cell. In the case of the [inner-ear] neurons, you are controlling signals going to the brain. In the case of the heart, you are pacing contraction."

New Possibilities for Optical versus Electrical Cochlear Implants

Rabbitt believes the research - including a related study of the cochlea last year - could lead to better cochlear implants that would use optical rather than electrical signals.

Existing cochlear implants convert sound into electrical signals, which typically are transmitted to eight electrodes in the cochlea, a part of the inner ear where sound vibrations are converted to nerve signals to the brain. Eight electrodes can deliver only eight frequencies of sound, Rabbitt says.

"A healthy adult can hear more than 3,000 different frequencies. With optical stimulation, there's a possibility of hearing hundreds or thousands of frequencies instead of eight. Perhaps someday an optical cochlear implant will allow deaf people to once again enjoy music and hear all the nuances in sound that a hearing person would enjoy."

Unlike electrical current, which spreads through tissue and cannot be focused to a point, infrared light can be focused, so numerous wavelengths (corresponding to numerous frequencies of sound) could be aimed at different cells in the inner ear.

Nerve cells that send sound signals from the ears to the brain can fire more than 300 times per second, so ideally, a cochlear implant using infrared light would be able to perform as well. In the Utah experiments, the researchers were able to apply laser pulses to hair cells to make adjacent nerve cells fire up to 100 times per second. For a cochlear implant, the nerve cells would be activated within infrared light instead of the hair cells.

Rabbitt cautioned it may be five to 10 years before the development of cochlear implants that run optically. To be practical, they need a smaller power supply and light source, and must be more power efficient to run on small batteries like a hearing aid.

Optical Prosthetics for Movement, Balance and Vision Disorders

Electrical deep-brain stimulation now is used to treat movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease and "essential tremor, which causes rhythmic movement of the limbs so it becomes difficult to walk, function and eat," says Rabbitt.

He is investigating whether optical rather than electrical deep-brain stimulation might increase how long the treatment is effective.

Rabbitt also sees potential for optical implants to treat balance disorders.

"When we get old, we shuffle and walk carefully, not because our muscles don't work but because we have trouble with balance," he says. "This technology has potential for restoring balance by restoring the signals that the healthy ear sends to the brain about how your body is moving in space."

Optical stimulation also might provide artificial vision in people with retinitis pigmentosa or other loss of retinal cells - the eye cells that detect light and color - but who still have the next level of cells, known as ganglia, Rabbitt says.

"You would wear glasses with a camera [mounted on the frames] and there would be electronics that would convert signals from the camera into pulses of infrared radiation that would be patterned onto the diseased retina that normally does not respond to light but would respond to the pulsed infrared radiation" to create images, he says.

Hearing and vision implants that use optical rather than electrical signals do not have to penetrate the brain or other nerve tissue because infrared light can penetrate "quite a bit of tissue," so devices emitting the light "have potential for excellent biocompatibility," Rabbitt says. "You will be able to implant optical devices and leave them there for life."

The heart cell study was led by Rabbitt, with University of Utah bioengineering doctoral student Gregory Dittami as first author. Co-authors were Suhrud Rajguru, a former Utah doctoral student now at Northwestern University in Chicago; Utah doctoral student Richard Lasher; and Robert Hitchcock, an assistant professor of bioengineering at the University of Utah.

Rabbitt's coauthors on the inner-ear study included first author Rajguru; Dittami; Claus-Peter Richter and Agnella Matic of Northwestern University; neuroscientist Gay Holstein of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York; and neuroscientist Stephen Highstein of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass.
Taken from

Monday, May 16, 2011

Budget Misses on Childhood Hearing

Today, the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (CASLPA) expressed its disappointment at the absence of dedicated funding in the federal budget for universal newborn hearing screening programs (UNHS) to detect permanent childhood hearing loss (PCHL).

"By not providing dedicated funding for a universal newborn hearing screening program, they are missing a real opportunity to improve care while saving money," said CASLPA audiology board director, Dr. Sean Kinden.

Approximately three to five per 1,000 babies born each year in Canada have some degree of hearing loss. UNHS programs use an inexpensive and non-invasive test that can quickly and accurately screen for hearing loss in newborns. The screening process is simple and should ideally be performed before a newborn leaves the hospital. At about $35 per test, such screening is less expensive than a number of other current newborn screening tests.

Historically, only those babies with high-risk factors have been screened for PCHL, but studies estimate that nearly 50 per cent of infants with hearing loss have no high risk factors. Relying on risk assessment alone means as many as half of children with PCHL are missed. Because it is very difficult to detect PCHL based on observation alone, the absence of UNHS programs inevitably delays the identification of affected children.

"Undetected PCHL has been described by some researchers as a neurologic emergency," said Dr. Kinden. "Extended periods of auditory deprivation have a significant impact on a child's overall brain development and sensory integration. Deficits in speech, language, cognitive, academic, social and emotional development are expected results of untreated hearing loss. The most direct and effective way of limiting the impact of these factors is to reduce the age at which hearing loss is identified and to start intervention as early as possible."

UNHS is increasingly becoming the standard of care in many developed countries, including the United States, where 95 per cent of newborns are screened with UNHS programs. While Ontario and New Brunswick were the first to mandate UNHS programs in 2002, they remain non-existent in many areas of Canada.

"It is not a question of whether or not childhood hearing loss will be detected, but when. The later it is detected, the higher the cost will be to government," concludes Dr. Kinden. "By acting early through UNHS programs, treatment for hearing loss is less expensive and can be significantly more effective. This improves outcomes for the child and, ultimately, saves the government money. That's a win-win situation."

With more than 5,800 members, CASLPA is the only national body that supports and represents the professional needs of speech-language pathologists, audiologists and supportive personnel inclusively within one organization. Through this support, CASLPA champions the needs of people with hearing and communication disorders. Visit CASLPA at or learn more at

Monday, May 9, 2011

New Sync Stereo Earmuffs from Howard Leight Combine Hearing Protection with High-Fidelity Sound Quality

Optimizing acoustical earcup design, volume management technology, and personal hearing protection, Honeywell Safety Products introduces Sync™, the next generation of stereo earmuffs from Howard Leight®. Sync delivers the proper levels of hearing protection in hazardous noise environments with high-fidelity stereo sound from users’ personal portable audio MP3 players.

“Most stereo earmuffs used in industry today provide a moderate level of hearing protection, but often sacrifice the sound quality of the attached MP3 players – which can work to discourage their use,” said Renee S. Bessette, COHC, Global Brand Manager, Howard Leight / Honeywell Safety Products. “In contrast, Sync stereo earmuffs optimize new designs and technologies that provide both hearing protection and true listening enjoyment. Sync entices usage – to deliver protection from noise-induced hearing loss  (NIHL) on the job or at home.”

Sync stereo earmuffs feature:
  • Protection from Hazardous Noise - With an NRR 25, Sync provides ideal, consistent hearing protection and ensures appropriate attenuation in most industrial environments. Sync’s Volume Management Technology™ manages sound levels reaching the user’s ear to a safe level.
  • Plug In and Go – There are no volume knobs or power switches to coordinate nor batteries to replace. Ease-of-use is enhanced by maintaining volume and power control through the MP3 device. Users simply plug MP3 players and personal audio devices and listen.
  • Personal Listening – Sync can be used with a user’s own MP3 player, mobile phone and other personal audio devices, ideal for use at work or at home. Its technologically advanced acoustical bass chamber enhances bass sounds that are typically sacrificed in industrial stereo earmuffs.
  • Cool, Modern Style - Sync’s earcup design is DJ-inspired, and the sound quality is on par with other professional audio headphones. Sync’s stylish design easily surpasses other industrial earmuffs. Both comfort and fit are ensured by its padded diamond-patterned headband and its reinforced forkslides that keep it in place when worn.
Sync is now available for ordering through industrial safety distributors in the U.S. and Canada.

For more information, visit

About Howard Leight®

Howard Leight/Honeywell Safety Products is a leading global provider of passive and intelligent hearing protection solutions, and the founder of the HearForever™ initiative. For over 30 years, Howard Leight has pursued the prevention of occupational noise-induced hearing loss through innovation in hearing protection design, technology, performance and comfort, and the promotion of progressive Hearing Conservation Programs. Leading solutions include the highest attenuating Max® single-use earplug; patented Air Flow Control™ technology for optimal earmuff attenuation; QuietDose™ personal in-ear dosimetry; and the industry-changing VeriPRO® earplug fit testing system. Visit:

Visit the Howard Leight website at Follow us on Twitter (@HowardLeight) at

About Honeywell

Honeywell International ( is a Fortune 100 diversified technology and manufacturing leader, serving customers worldwide with aerospace products and services; control technologies for buildings, homes and industry; automotive products; turbochargers; and specialty materials. Based in Morris Township, N.J., Honeywell’s shares are traded on the New York, London, and Chicago Stock Exchanges. For more news and information on Honeywell, please visit

Monday, May 2, 2011

House and Senate Champions Prepare to Reintroduce Hearing Aid Tax Credit

Representatives Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) and Tom Latham (R-IA) and Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) are organizing Congressional hearing champions to reintroduce the Hearing Aid Tax Credit in the new Congress. Rep. Latham is the new Lead Republican Sponsor of the bill, replacing Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI) who retired in December. Reps Latham and McCarthy have sent a letter to every Representative soliciting support, and reintroduction is likely in April. A coalition of hearing health organizations has also contacted every past co-sponsor and urged them to support reintroduction of the bill, while AARP has again endorsed the Senate version of the bill that provides coverage for people of all ages.

As part of efforts to champion passage of the tax credit, HIA is continuing to sponsor events held by local hearing health activists in support of tax credit champions in various states. Possible venues for events in 2011 include Portland, ME; the Chicago suburbs; Henderson, NV; and northern Iowa. Contact for more details, or if you want to help with one of these events.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Brains Are Wired So We Can Better Hear Ourselves

Berkeley - Like the mute button on the TV remote control, our brains filter out unwanted noise so we can focus on what we're listening to. But when it comes to following our own speech, a new brain study from the University of California, Berkeley, shows that instead of one homogenous mute button, we have a network of volume settings that can selectively silence and amplify the sounds we make and hear.

Activity in the auditory cortex when we speak and listen is amplified in some regions of the brain and muted in others. In this image, the black line represents muting activity when we speak. (Courtesy of Adeen Flinker)

Neuroscientists from UC Berkeley, UCSF and Johns Hopkins University tracked the electrical signals emitted from the brains of hospitalized epilepsy patients. They discovered that neurons in one part of the patients' hearing mechanism were dimmed when they talked, while neurons in other parts lit up.

Their findings, published today (Dec. 8, 2010) in the Journal of Neuroscience, offer new clues about how we hear ourselves above the noise of our surroundings and monitor what we say. Previous studies have shown a selective auditory system in monkeys that can amplify their self-produced mating, food and danger alert calls, but until this latest study, it was not clear how the human auditory system is wired.

"We used to think that the human auditory system is mostly suppressed during speech, but we found closely knit patches of cortex with very different sensitivities to our own speech that paint a more complicated picture," said Adeen Flinker, a doctoral student in neuroscience at UC Berkeley and lead author of the study.

"We found evidence of millions of neurons firing together every time you hear a sound right next to millions of neurons ignoring external sounds but firing together every time you speak," Flinker added. "Such a mosaic of responses could play an important role in how we are able to distinguish our own speech from that of others."

While the study doesn't specifically address why humans need to track their own speech so closely, Flinker theorizes that, among other things, tracking our own speech is important for language development, monitoring what we say and adjusting to various noise environments.

"Whether it's learning a new language or talking to friends in a noisy bar, we need to hear what we say and change our speech dynamically according to our needs and environment," Flinker said.

He noted that people with schizophrenia have trouble distinguishing their own internal voices from the voices of others, suggesting that they may lack this selective auditory mechanism. The findings may be helpful in better understanding some aspects of auditory hallucinations, he said.

Moreover, with the finding of sub-regions of brain cells each tasked with a different volume control job – and located just a few millimeters apart – the results pave the way for a more detailed mapping of the auditory cortex to guide brain surgery.

In addition to Flinker, the study's authors are Robert Knight, director of the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at UC Berkeley; neurosurgeons Edward Chang, Nicholas Barbaro and neurologist Heidi Kirsch of the University of California, San Francisco; and Nathan Crone, a neurologist at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland.

The auditory cortex is a region of the brain's temporal lobe that deals with sound. In hearing, the human ear converts vibrations into electrical signals that are sent to relay stations in the brain's auditory cortex where they are refined and processed. Language is mostly processed in the left hemisphere of the brain.

In the study, researchers examined the electrical activity in the healthy brain tissue of patients who were being treated for seizures. The patients had volunteered to help out in the experiment during lulls in their treatment, as electrodes had already been implanted over their auditory cortices to track the focal points of their seizures.

Researchers instructed the patients to perform such tasks as repeating words and vowels they heard, and recorded the activity. In comparing the activity of electrical signals discharged during speaking and hearing, they found that some regions of the auditory cortex showed less activity during speech, while others showed the same or higher levels.

"This shows that our brain has a complex sensitivity to our own speech that helps us distinguish between our vocalizations and those of others, and makes sure that what we say is actually what we meant to say," Flinker said.

Taken from

Monday, April 18, 2011

Musicians Less Likely to Experience Age Related Changes in Auditory Cortex

ScienceDaily - The old adage "use it or lose it" applies to hearing, suggests a new study. Older musicians do not experience certain changes in the auditory cortex he part of the brain involved with hearing hat are associated with aging, according to research presented at Neuroscience 2010, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, held in San Diego.

"This finding is important because it suggests that age-related changes in the auditory cortex that contribute to decline in auditory perception may be mitigated by musical training," said Benjamin Zendel, a doctoral student who co- authored the study with Claude Alain, PhD, of the University of Toronto.

Zendel and Alain presented participants with complex sounds under two conditions: active, in which they focused on the sounds, and passive, while they were doing another activity. During these tests, the researchers used electroencephalography to measure the participants' brain waves lectrical activity caused by the firing of brain cells.

During periods of attentive listening, the auditory cortices of older musicians responded the same as those of younger adults, whereas older non-musicians showed typical age-related changes. The researchers note that the musicians spend much of their time paying attention to the details of sound, and this experience may be important for sparing auditory cortex responses.

"Our findings suggest that musical training, which is widely available, may enhance neural connections in the auditory cortex and thus might be useful in preventing age-related changes that contribute to hearing difficulties," Zendel said.

Research supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Taken from


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Discover Sound Check Hearing Screener App, Now Available on iTunes from Starkey

Sound Check is a hearing screener app designed to quickly evaluate an individual's hearing to determine if it is within a normal range, or if there is potential hearing loss.

Sound Check:
  • Displays results in an easy-to-understand format
  • Includes learning materials and links to websites with detailed information on hearing loss and how to get help
  • Has a hearing professional locator feature
  • Automatically saves screening results to track changes over time or for further discussion with a qualified hearing professional
Download the FREE Sound Check app today or call your Starkey Representative at 800.328.8602 to learn more.

Click here to download via a computer:
  • Make sure that iTunes is installed
  • Follow the prompts to download and then sync with your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch

To download directly to your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch:
  • Turn on your device
  • Launch App Store (you will be required to have an iTunes account)
  • Search for Starkey
  • Select the Sound Check app to download
  • Follow the prompts to download and install

Monday, April 11, 2011

GUMC Researcher Says Tinnitus Is Much More Than a 'Hearing Problem'

The irritating phantom noises that tinnitus patients hear are a result of the brain trying, but failing, to repair itself

Washington, DC – Tinnitus appears to be produced by an unfortunate confluence of structural and functional changes in the brain, say neuroscientists at Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC).

The phantom ringing sounds heard by about 40 million people in the U.S. today are caused by brains that try, but fail to protect their human hosts against overwhelming auditory stimuli, the researchers say in the January 13th issue of Neuron. They add that the same process may be responsible for chronic pain and other perceptual disorders.

The researchers say that the absence of sound caused by hearing loss in certain frequencies, due to normal aging, loud-noise exposure, or to an accident, forces the brain to produce sounds to replace what is now missing. But when the brain's limbic system, which is involved in processing emotions and other functions, fails to stop these sounds from reaching conscious auditory processing, tinnitus results.

"We believe that a dysregulation of the limbic and auditory networks may be at the heart of chronic tinnitus," says the study's lead investigator, Josef P. Rauschecker, PhD, a neuroscientist. "A complete understanding and ultimate cure of tinnitus may depend on a detailed understanding of the nature and basis of this dysregulation."

Tinnitus isn't curable, although antidepressants appear to help some patients, as does the use of masking noise to diminish focus on the ringing sensations.

Using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), the Georgetown researchers tested 22 volunteers, half of whom had been diagnosed with chronic tinnitus. They found that moderate hyperactivity was present in the primary and posterior auditory cortices of tinnitus patients, but that the nucleus accumbens exhibited the greatest degree of hyperactivity, specifically to sounds that were matched to frequencies lost in patients.

The nucleus accumbens is part of the corticostriatal circuit, which is involved in evaluation of reward, emotion, and aversiveness, says Rauschecker. "This suggests that the corticostriatal circuit is part of a general 'appraisal network' determining which sensations are important, and ultimately affecting how or whether those sensations are experienced," he says. "In this study, we provide evidence that these limbic structures, specifically the nucleus accumbens and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, do indeed differ in the brains of individuals with tinnitus."

Functional lapses in these same areas have also been implicated to altered mood states and to chronic pain. "Both of these conditions may also involve the inability to suppress unwanted sensory signals," Rauschecker says.

Based on their findings, the researchers argue that the key to understanding tinnitus lies in understanding how the auditory and limbic systems interact to influence perception – be it sound, emotions, pain, etc.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Scientists ID Key Protein that Links Diet with Healthy Hearing

Gainsville, Fla. - Restricting calories extends life and slows a range of age-related disorders in mice, rats and other organisms. But even after eight decades of research on the subject, scientists are still unclear just how caloric restriction exerts its age-battling influence.

Now, for the first time in mammals, researchers at the University of Florida and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin have sleuthed out the role of a key player in the process, using age-related hearing loss as an example. The protein in question, called Sirt3, could provide a new target for anti-aging drug therapies. The findings are reported in the Nov. 24 issue of the journal Cell.

The researchers found that when Sirt3 is absent, caloric restriction loses its anti-aging powers. They uncovered details of how the protein, an enzyme found primarily in mitochondria — the energy-producing centers of cells — wards off cell death by maintaining an environment that combats destructive chemicals.

“Knocking it out seems to be very negative for mitochondrial function and allows the accumulation of oxidative stress and damage to neurons and other cells,” said Christiaan Leeuwenburgh, one of the study’s senior authors who is chief of the biology of aging division in the UF College of Medicine department of aging and geriatric research and a member of the UF Institute on Aging. “That’s an important clue about the role that Sirt3 plays in protecting cells from age-related damage.”

Age-related hearing loss is the most common sensory disorder among the elderly, affecting more than 40 percent of people older than 65 and projected to affect 28 million Americans by 2030, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The disorder is marked by the death of sensory hair and nerve cells in the inner ear. While those cells are long-lived, they do not regenerate, so their demise means permanent loss of hearing. But all is not lost, since the environment in which those cells reside can be remodeled over time as damaged organelles such as mitochondria get replaced. Caloric restriction helps to rescue those damaged cells by reducing oxidative damage.

Having previously shown that restricting the diet induces expression of the protein Sirt3 in the inner ear, the researchers now show that Sirt3 aids caloric restriction by combating some of the chemical changes that play a major role in the process of aging.

The enzyme belongs to a class of compounds called sirtuins that are known to have anti-aging effects in lower organisms including yeast and flies. Until now, however, there wasn’t clear evidence that the effect extends to mammals.

“This is a major step in terms of understanding aging retardation by dietary restriction — it doesn’t work without Sirt3,” said Shinichi Someya, first author of the paper and an assistant scientist in genetics and medical genetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

In normal mice, lowering calorie intake to 75 percent of a regular diet reduced hearing loss, but in Sirt3-deficient mice, dietary restriction had no such effect. Further, after caloric restriction, mice lacking Sirt3 lost more cellular structures vital for hearing — sensory hair and nerve cells in the ear — than did normal mice on a similarly restricted diet.

Corresponding with that observation, the researchers found that while caloric restriction reduced oxidative damage to DNA in inner ear cells in normal mice, it did not have that effect in mice that lacked Sirt3.

Closer examination revealed that Sirt3 regulates a mitochondria-based defense mechanism called the glutathione antioxidant system, via which caloric restriction works to help maintain the appropriate chemical balance needed to keep sopping up damaging oxygen-containing chemicals as they appear.

Effects seen in the ear were also observed in brain and liver tissue, suggesting that Sirt3 might have a role well beyond age-related hearing loss, and a potential benefit in cardiovascular and neurological diseases.

“They’ve taken it all the way from the physiological level down to the molecular level,” said S. Michal Jazwinski, a professor of medicine and biochemistry at Tulane University and director of the Tulane Center for Aging, who was not involved in the study. “This may be something that is generally operable in other tissues as well, and may explain the overall caloric restriction effect.”

The new findings identify Sirt3 as a target around which to focus anti-aging therapeutic efforts, including investigating ways to activate its production in the body.

“We’re now finally identifying the major genes involved in the action of caloric restriction, and this provides new opportunities for the development of therapies that may be able to provide the benefits of caloric restriction,” said Tomas Prolla, a professor of genetics and medical genetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who led the research team.

Taken from

Monday, March 28, 2011

ReSound Hosts Better Hearing Seminars

ReSound is partnering with hearing professionals nationwide to host a series of patient education seminars designed to help the hearing impaired get on the road to hearing better.

ReSound, the industry technology leader in hearing aid solutions, is partnering with hearing professionals to host a series of patient education seminars about “hearing better”.

ReSound is taking new steps to help the hearing impaired overcome the stigma associated with wearing a hearing aid and understand what they can do to hear better.

“When it comes to hearing better, the number one obstacle for people with hearing loss is accepting that they need a hearing aid,” said Kurt Schaffer, Strategic Account Manager, ReSound. “Our patient education seminars are a place for people with hearing loss to ask questions and become comfortable with taking the next step.”

ReSound estimates that the typical hearing impaired individual will endure 7 years of denial before seeking treatment. With one in six baby boomers experiencing hearing loss and only 13% of doctors routinely screening for hearing loss during a physical, it is hardly surprising that the number of hearing impaired Americans is expected to rise to 78 million before 2030.

Hearing loss, when left untreated, can lead to social isolation, depression and a decrease in quality of life. It is also common for family members and friends to feel irritation, frustration and even anger because communication is difficult and attempts to offer help are met with denial.

“My audiologist honestly saved my marriage”, said Emil Spears, a patient at ENT Associates of Greater Kansas City. “My wife was at breaking point. She was tired of me not being able to communicate and having to be my interpreter in social situations. My advice to others like me, don’t think about what you have to lose. It’s what you have to gain.”

To learn more about hosting a Hearing Better seminar at your practice, Contact the ReSound Consumer Marketing Team at 1 (800) 248-4327 or

About ReSound

ReSound is the industry technology leader in hearing solutions. Since the company’s inception in 1943, ReSound has been responsible for a number of hearing industry firsts, including Wide Dynamic Range Compression (WDRC), Digital Feedback Suppression (DFS) and the first open-standard digital chip. Headquartered in Ballerup, Denmark, GN ReSound is part of The GN ReSound Group, one of the world’s largest provider of hearing instruments and diagnostic audiological instrumentation. Visit

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hearing Health 4U

HearingHealth4U,  a non-profit organization committed to helping people hear better by providing quality used hearing aids at affordable pricing.

The only way we can accomplish this is by support of the hearing aid community.  We are in need of as many used hearing aids as possible to meet the ongoing growing demand of the hard of hearing community that can't afford the high cost of new hearing aids.

We know that there are thousands of used hearing aids lying around in drawers, boxes, on shelves etc. that could have a second chance of helping someone in need hear again.

Maybe you are one of these people that has an extra set or two of used hearing aids lying around, not having any use for them anymore.  We would ask you to consider donating them to help someone in need hear again.

To learn more visit:

Monday, March 21, 2011

Hearing Loss in Play for Dolphin and Whale Strandings

Researchers urge hearing tests for stranded animals before and after antibiotic treatment.

Few events in the marine world are as upsetting to the public and mystifying to experts as dolphin and whale strandings.

But a new study by a team of scientists led by the University of South Florida and Mote Marine Laboratory has discovered that hearing loss may play a role in some of the animals’ distress.

In a study published in the new edition of the journal PLoS One, researchers found severe to profound hearing loss in 57 percent of the bottlenose dolphins and 36 percent of the rough-toothed dolphins studied after the animals stranded.

Given that these species rely on echolocation for orientation and feeding, the researchers believe that hearing loss could play a significant role in some strandings, said David Mann, a USF biological oceanographer and the paper’s lead author. The finding might also provide good cause for veterinary experts, scientists and resource managers to rethink the rehabilitation and release of dolphins given the role hearing loss might play in their trauma.

The finding also has implications for how stranded dolphins and whales should be treated, Mann said.

“If you have a dolphin that comes in with high-frequency hearing loss, there may not be much point trying to release it,” Mann said. “All stranded rehab animals should have their hearing tested — because rehabilitation and release is time and money intensive, and everyone wants to do what is in the best interest of the animal.”

During the study, a team of 16 scientists from marine science colleges and institutes across the United States and the Caribbean examined 36 dolphins and toothed whales in Florida and at a number of aquariums and rehabilitation centers. The animals had been found stranded or entangled in fishing gear between 2004 to 2009, and ranged in age from calves to adults, including one dolphin believed to have reached a ripe old age, given his lack of teeth.

The scientists found strong trends among the bottlenose and rough-toothed dolphins suffering from hearing loss, and the only short-finned pilot whale examined also had profound hearing loss. Interestingly, no hearing impairments were detected in any of the seven Risso’s dolphins from three different stranding events, or from two pygmy killer whales, one Atlantic spotted dolphin, one spinner dolphin, or a juvenile Gervais’ beaked whale that were also part of the study group.

The researchers tested the animals’ hearing using “auditory evoked potentials.” So-called AEPs are commonly used to measure hearing in human infants. Sensors are placed on an animal’s head to measure brain activity in response to a sound.

The method was used to measure hearing in the stranded cetaceans and compared to measurements obtained during health assessments of the free-ranging dolphins living in Sarasota Bay, which are the subjects of the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program. The program, a collaboration between Mote and the Chicago Zoological Society, began in 1970 and today is the longest-running study of a dolphin population anywhere in the world.

More than half of the dolphins tested had been brought to Mote’s dolphin hospital for treatment. Randall Wells, director of the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program, said hearing loss has long been discussed as a potential reason for dolphin strandings.

“Cetacean hearing problems were hypothesized to be a cause of strandings even before the 1970s, when Mote became one of the first organizations studying why marine mammals strand, through necropsies and treatment of live-stranded cetaceans,” Wells said. “Finding that many stranded cetaceans do indeed have hearing problems is an important advancement in our understanding of these phenomena."

As a result of the study, the researchers urge marine mammal veterinarians to conduct hearing measurements both before and after drug treatment. Rescued dolphins are sometimes treated with a class of antibiotics that could damage crucial hair cells in the ear that allow the animals to hear. Mann said dolphins released back into the wild with damaged hearing may be at risk.

Mann said while hearing may be a factor for some stranded animals, other dolphins and whales may still have a multitude of health issues. That’s why it’s important that hearing tests be incorporated into the animals’ care and rehabilitation.

There are five main contributing factors to hearing loss in marine mammals:
  • Intense chronic noise, from things such as shipping
  • Transient intense noise, such as explosions and underwater seismic testing
  • Age-related hearing loss
  • Congenital hearing impairment
  • Antibiotic drug treatment.
The group also pointed to evolving studies by USF researcher Eric Montie showing that exposure to the chemical PCB in marine mammals may play a role in hearing development in dolphins as it has been shown to in rats.

The researchers did not know the noise exposure history in the dolphins found to have hearing loss, although they suspect that two rough-toothed dolphins that stranded when they were young might have had hearing defects from birth.

Taken from

Monday, March 14, 2011

ReSound Donates Hearing Aids to Help America Hear Program

ReSound is now the exclusive provider of hearing aids for the Help America Hear program, created by the Foundation for Sight & Sound.
ReSound, the technology leader in hearing aid solutions, has partnered with the Foundation for Sight & Sound to provide hearing aids to Americans in need via itsHelp America Hear program.

In most US states, Medicare and Medicaid do not pay for hearing aids and neither do many insurance companies. Help America Hear was created in 2009 to help hearing impaired individuals with limited financial resources. Since then, 130 patients have received hearing aids through the program.

“There’s a lot of great charity work being done abroad,” said Mitch Shapiro, President, Foundation for Sight & Sound, “but so little here on American soil. Our partnership with ReSound is really a grass roots initiative to get hearing aids to those people that cannot afford to buy them.”

Help America Hear relies on pro bono work from hearing professionals, whether it is participating in mission trips, fitting individuals with donated ReSound hearing aids or simply nominating eligible patients for assistance.

To receive a hearing aid through Help America Hear, the individual must undergo a thorough screening process to ensure that all financial resources have been explored and exhausted. Shapiro interviews each candidate himself, reviews check book statements to determine spending habits and requires the candidate to sign an affidavit stating that Help America Hear is a last resort.

“I feel blessed to have been given this opportunity to hear again,” said Ora Johnson, Dothan, AL, who was fitted with two ReSound hearing aids in December 2010. “This Christmas, I got the best gift of all – the gift of sound.”

For more information on how you can support Help America Hear, visit or talk to your ReSound representative.

About ReSound

ReSound is the industry technology leader in hearing solutions. Since the company’s inception in 1943, ReSound has been responsible for a number of hearing industry firsts, including Wide Dynamic Range Compression (WDRC), Digital Feedback Suppression (DFS) and the first open-standard digital chip. Headquartered in Ballerup, Denmark, GN ReSound is part of The GN ReSound Group, one of the world’s largest provider of hearing instruments and diagnostic audiological instrumentation. For more information about ReSound, visit

Monday, March 7, 2011

Age-Related Hearing Loss and Flolate in Elderly

Alexandria, VA - Age-related hearing loss (ARHL), one of the four most prevalent chronic conditions in the elderly, is associated with low serum levels of folic acid, according to new research published in the December 2010 issue of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery.

Hearing loss is a major public health problem globally, with more than 28 million Americans between the ages of 60 and 74 dealing with the loss. Despite the high prevalence of hearing impairment, the biological basis of age-related hearing loss is unknown. In the current study, findings show that low serum levels of folic acid among elderly people are significantly associated with hearing loss in high frequencies.

"Based on our research, age-related hearing loss may be associated with poor micronutrient status. The role of folate in cellular metabolism, the nervous system, and vascular function are important for the auditory system," said study author Akeem Olawale Lasisi, MBChB, FWACS, FMCORL.

The study included face-to-face interviews with 126 elderly Nigerian men and women above 60 years old who had no known medical conditions and had been examined by physicians. The study excluded those who were found to have a history of diabetes, stroke, hypertension, ear diseases, ear infections, ear trauma, ear surgery, or exposure to noise and ototoxic drugs such as aminoglycosides, antibiotics, and diuretics.

The main finding of the study was that low serum levels of folic acid were significantly associated with high-frequency hearing loss in the elderly. In medically underserved populations like that in the study, relatively low levels of vitamin intake can be expected. That suggests a need, say the authors, for continuing study into the role of vitamins in auditory function, particularly in developing countries where malnutrition is rife.

Monday, February 28, 2011

AT&T Introduces Video Relay Service App for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Users

App Allows Users To Make Video Relay Service Calls With iPhone 4

AT&T* announced a new video relay service (VRS) app for iPhone 4 that allows deaf and hard of hearing customers to make VRS calls. The AT&T VRS app is available today on the App Store.

AT&T VRS is a service that allows a person who uses American Sign Language (ASL) to place a relay call to a hearing person by communicating through a certified ASL interpreter. AT&T has offered video relay services to customers for many years, but the new AT&T VRS app provides a more flexible and convenient way for users to make VRS calls on the go. iPhone 4 customers can make unlimited VRS calls using the AT&T VRS app at no additional cost.

"AT&T is committed to serving the deaf and hard of hearing communities, and our new AT&T VRS app is one more way we're enhancing our offerings," said Susan Johnson, senior vice president of AT&T Customer Information Services. "Now our customers can make a VRS call at Wi-Fi hotspots using iPhone 4, which makes VRS easier and more accessible for everyone."

The AT&T VRS app is simple and easy to use. Users launch the app, log-in, and then can either choose to place a VRS call by selecting someone from their contact list or by manually dialing a number. The app contacts an AT&T ASL interpreter who then initiates a FaceTime video call with the user.** The interpreter will connect the ASL user to the hearing person they are calling, and relays the conversation between the two parties through ASL.

In addition to the app, AT&T VRS also offers a free software download called AT&T Video Link that turns a computer or laptop into a video phone. This software works on certain Macs and PCs enabled with a web cam and a broadband connection.

AT&T VRS will also provide users with a ten-digit telephone number and supports all the FCC required 911 emergency capabilities.

The AT&T VRS app is available for free from the App Store on iPhone or at For additional information about AT&T VRS, please visit, or access AT&T VRS via video phone at or 877-642-0877.

* AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc.

** FaceTime works over Wi-Fi.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Growth-Factor Gel Shows Promise as Hearing Loss Treatment

A new treatment has been developed for sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL), a condition that causes deafness in 40,000 Americans each year, usually in early middle-age. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Medicine describe the positive results of a preliminary trial of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1), applied as a topical gel.

Takayuki Nakagawa, from Kyoto University, Japan, worked with a team of researchers to test the gel in 25 patients whose SSHL had not responded to the normal treatment of systemic gluticosteroids. He said, "The results indicated that the topical IGF1 application using gelatin hydrogels was safe, and had equivalent or superior efficiency to the hyperbaric oxygen therapy that was used as a historical control; this suggests that the efficacy of topical IGF1 application should be further evaluated using randomized clinical trials."

At 12 weeks after the test treatment, 48% of patients showed hearing improvement, and the proportion increased to 56% at 24 weeks. No serious adverse events were observed. This is the first time that growth factors have been tested as a hearing remedy. According to Nakagawa, "Although systemic glucocorticoid application results in hearing recovery in some patients with SSHL, approximately 20% show no recovery. Topical IGF1 application using gelatin hydrogels is well tolerated and may be efficacious for these patients."

Editor's Note: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Journal Reference:

Takayuki Nakagawa, Tatsunori Sakamoto, Harukazu Hiraumi, Yayoi S Kikkawa, Norio Yamamoto, Kiyomi Hamaguchi, Kazuya Ono, Masaya Yamamoto, Yasuhiko Tabata, Satoshi Teramukai, Shiro Tanaka, Harue Tada, Rie Onodera, Atsushi Yonezawa, Ken-ichi Inui and Juichi Ito. A Topical insulin-like growth factor 1 treatment using gelatin hydrogels for glucocorticoid-resistant sudden sensorineural hearing loss: a prospective clinical trial.BMC Medicine, (in press)

Taken from

Monday, February 14, 2011

White Noise Therapy Alone Not Enough to Curb Tinnitus

Tinnitus - what many think of as “ringing in the ears” — is the perception of sound without any real acoustic stimulation. Sound masking therapy, a common component of tinnitus treatment, is of uncertain benefit when used on its own, a new evidence review finds.

Tinnitus sufferers might hear one sound or multiple ones; they can hear them continuously or intermittently. The sounds are imperceptible to others. For most people, the phantom sounds — hissing, whooshing and others — hardly matter.

But for a small minority, tinnitus causes severe problems, such as anxiety, insomnia and even major depression sometimes leading to suicide.

Jonathan Hobson, lead author of the new Cochrane review, said that sound therapy relies on distraction, with an additional noise — often called white noise — reducing the contrast between the patient’s tinnitus signal and the background noise. This reduces the person’s perception of the phantom sounds and the distress they cause.

Hobson and colleagues at the Centre for Hearing and Balance Studies at Bristol University, in England, summarized the results of six studies of 553 adults with persistent tinnitus who underwent sound therapy either alone or combined with other treatments.

People receive sound therapy in several ways: by devices worn in or on the ear, by headphones connected to an MP3-like device or with an under-the-pillow speaker for night use.

Sound masking rarely is a standalone therapy; other treatment methods usually accompany it. Tinnitus therapies include medications, psychological interventions such as cognitive behavioral therapy and holistic approaches such as acupuncture.

Most tinnitus sufferers are adults between about 50 and 70 years of age who also have diminished hearing. Accordingly, for most, hearing aids represent a first line of treatment, improving the hearing of actual external sounds and diminishing the phantom sounds at the same time.

The review was published by the Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research. Systematic reviews draw evidence-based conclusions about medical practice after considering both the content and quality of existing medical trials on a topic.

“[The review] does not provide high-quality evidence that sound therapy devices are better than alternative treatments, but they are probably better than no treatment at all and certainly no harm or adverse effects have been reported with their use,” Hobson said. “The six trials included were all very different in nature and compared sound therapy devices to a variety of other interventions: information, counseling, tinnitus retraining therapy, hearing aids or no treatment.

U.S. tinnitus expert, Robert Sweetow, Ph.D., views the use of sound therapy somewhat differently. He said that sound therapy, as used today, does not aim to mask tinnitus. “Rather, it is meant to mingle with the tinnitus and provide acoustic stimulation to the brain to help compensate for the lack of stimulation caused by hearing loss,” he said.

Hobson said that one study did report that subjectively patients found the sound therapy devices to be useful with lower levels of 'tinnitus annoyance' with their use.

Sweetow, a professor of otolaryngology at the University of California, San Francisco, has treated patients and studied tinnitus for more than 30 years. He agreed with the reviewers that the weight of evidence does not support sound therapy as a primary treatment.

“Rather they, and I, would consider sound therapy to be adjunctive to counseling,” Sweetow said. “The authors acknowledge this, stating that the studies they reviewed used a combination of approaches, making it impossible to properly delineate why effects occurred.”

Sweetow also concurred with the authors that there are few good long-term studies supporting sound therapy. Still, he said, “I would not like to see the medical community conclude that sound therapy is not helpful on the basis of this analysis. Rather, I would conclude that sound therapy is useful only when combined with a counseling component to complete a therapeutic process.”

“Hearing aids are a part of sound therapy and there is absolutely no doubt that they help most tinnitus patients.” Sweetow added.

He cautioned review readers from concluding that there is no evidence in support of sound therapy: “There is simply no way one can, or should, separate sound therapy from counseling strategies since the ultimate goal must be habituation, or conscious suppression, rather than elimination of the tinnitus.”

Source: Health Behavior News Service, part of the Center for Advancing Health

Hobson J, Chisholm E, El Refaie A. Sound therapy (masking) in the management of tinnitus in adults (review)Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 12.