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

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