News

Following are a selection of interesting news items from our field. This section will be updated on a continuous basis so check back often in between issues, to see what is new.

Unitron and City University of New York (CUNY) Partner to Help Physicians Better Screen Patients for Hearing Loss

Source: Market Wired

PLYMOUTH, MINNESOTA
Unitron, a global innovator of advanced hearing solutions, in partnership with Barbara E. Weinstein, Professor and Founding Executive Officer of the Doctor of Audiology Program (Au.D.) at CUNY, has designed a hearing healthcare toolkit to help physicians better screen patients for hearing loss and help them break down the barriers keeping them from getting the help they need.

The new "Hearing Healthcare Toolkit for Use in Primary and Geriatric Care" was created by Barbara E. Weinstein, Ph.D., The Graduate Center, CUNY, and Brian Taylor Au.D., Director of Practice Development and Clinical Affairs, Unitron, Plymouth, MN.

"The number of Americans who need hearing healthcare services but don't get them is disturbing," explains Taylor. "As a company, Unitron is focused on providing solutions for healthcare providers so they can better serve their patients, and get them the treatment they need. Early screening is another way of helping mitigate the effects that hearing loss can have on long-term health and quality of life."

Ongoing research has uncovered links between hearing loss and a growing list of other health conditions. In some cases, hearing loss may be an indicator of serious conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease. Untreated hearing loss may also contribute to health risks such as dementia, depression, falling and illnesses that require hospitalization.

"Primary care physicians typically serve as gatekeepers for individuals who may be hearing impaired," says Weinstein. "In many instances they do not recognize the profound physical, cognitive and emotional consequences of untreated hearing loss, which might initially be perceived as less urgent than other health concerns."

Unitron invites hearing healthcare professionals to download the toolkit free of charge at www.unitron.com/HHCPToolkit. The website also includes a downloadable guide for using the toolkit and a customizable cover letter that hearing healthcare professionals can send to physicians along with the toolkit, available at www.unitron.com/PhysicianToolkit.

Diabetics Twice As Likely To Develop Hearing Loss

Source: Healthy Hearing

New research shows connection between diabetic individuals and hearing loss.

Sleep Your Way To Better Hearing

Source: Healthy Hearing

Getting adequate sleep is important for maintaining proper health - your hearing included.

New Study Shows Promise for Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Cure!

Source: Healthy Hearing

Researchers have discovered a protein that wards off damage from excessive noise levels.

Listening carefully: Brain waves indicate listening challenges in older adults

Source: Max-Planck-Gesellschaft

The elderly often complain about hearing difficulties, especially when several people are talking all at once. Researchers have discovered that the reason for this does not just concern the ear but also changes in the attention processes in the brain of older people. Particular importance is attached to the alpha waves whose adaption to altered hearing situations improves speech comprehension in everyday situations.

Study: Improved Hearing Enhances Quality of Life in Moderate Dementia. Preliminary Findings Suggest Enhanced Role for Hearing Healthcare Professionals

Source: Unitron

PLYMOUTH, MINNESOTA. This document corrects and replaces the press release that was sent Thursday, January 29, 2015 at 12:38 PM EST.

Early findings in a new study by the University of North Texas and Unitron, a global innovator of advanced hearing solutions, suggest that the quality of life is improved in impaired listeners diagnosed with moderate dementia by treating hearing loss with hearing aids, as well as the quality of life of the caregiver. The study is being conducted by Amyn M. Amlani, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Speech and Hearing Sciences at the University of North Texas, in partnership with Brian Taylor, Au.D., Director of Practice Development and Clinical Affairs at Unitron.

Researchers have already been able to show some improvement in cognitive ability among participants using hearing aids, suggesting new therapeutic potential for the devices. If conclusive, the findings could enhance the role of hearing healthcare professionals in rehabilitating patients diagnosed with cognitive decline in relation to his or her hearing.
"This study looks at whether improved hearing can improve cognitive functioning for people who have already been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia," said Dr. Amlani. "In particular, we want to understand whether better hearing can play a role in helping people with dementia lead more active and engaged lives, particularly if hearing loss is identified and treated early."

Previous studies have found that people with hearing loss are significantly more likely to develop dementia over time compared to those with normal hearing. But no data yet exists showing that dementia can actually be improved through the use of hearing aids.

"Given the expected sharp increase in dementia cases over the next few decades, our findings could have significant implications for aging individuals as they begin experiencing hearing loss," said Taylor. "Unitron is focused on providing solutions for healthcare providers so they can better serve their patients, and get them the treatment they need."

The study includes adults 50-90 years' of age with moderate dementia who are inexperienced with amplification devices. It measures speech-recognition performance in noise, cognition and self-reported improvements in quality of life. The study is expected to be completed in late 2015.

Cochlear Implant Users Can Hear, Feel the Beat in Music

Source: Science Daily

People who use cochlear implants for profound hearing loss do respond to certain aspects of music, contrary to common beliefs and limited scientific research, says a research team. The scientists say exposure to the beat in music, such as drums, can improve the emotional and social quality-of-life of cochlear implant users and may even help improve their understanding and use of spoken language.

How Songbirds May Help Build a Better Hearing Aid

Source: University of California

UC Berkeley neuroscientist Frederic Theunissen and his graduate students are studying the songbird, which is particularly adept at hearing well in noisy environments, in hopes of developing a hearing aid that processes sound the way the brain does. Presently, hearing aid wearers often struggle to listen in noisy, crowded spaces, because hearing aids amplify every sound they receive. Theunissen's team are now working with Starkey Hearing Technologies to test a new generation of hearing aids that can separate sounds from background noise, without distorting the sounds or blocking out the background noise completely.

Two Brain Regions Join Forces for Absolute Pitch

Source: Science Daily

People who have "absolute pitch" can identify notes immediately without relying on a reference tone. Intensive research is being conducted into the neuronal basis of this extraordinary ability. The researchers have now detected a close functional link between the auditory cortex in the brain and the frontal lobe in these extraordinary people -- a discovery that is not only important in theory, but also in practice.

Bats Improve Chances of Finding Food by Eavesdropping on Each Other

Source: Discovery News

Bats eavesdrop on each other to improve their chances of finding prey, according to a study published in Current Biology. "When you sit in a dark cinema theater and someone opens a bag of chips, everyone in the theater knows that someone is eating chips and approximately where that someone is. Bats work similarly," said Yossi Yovel, the lead researcher.