Tag Archives: hearing loss

Beyond Hearing: Music Appreciation for BAHS Users

Beyond mere entertainment, music plays a profound role in shaping human experiences and enriching quality of life, socialization, and psychosocial well-being.1 In fact, listening to and making music is touted by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a way to improve quality of life.2

One of the most profound ways music enriches our lives is through its ability to evoke and express emotions. Listening to music, as well as specific music therapy, has been shown to improve anxiety, depression, feelings of hopelessness, and even fatigue.3

Beyond its emotive impact, engaging with music stimulates cognitive functions and enhances brain health.4 For individuals facing cognitive decline or additional communication disorders, music therapy has emerged as a promising intervention for preserving cognitive function and enhancing overall quality of life. Music therapy is often utilized when targeting social and communication skills and is beneficial for both the pediatric and adult population.5

Music has a remarkable ability to foster social bonds and cultivate a sense of belonging within communities. Whether it’s attending a concert, participating in a choir, or simply sharing playlists with friends, music provides a shared language through which people connect and communicate. By increasing an individual’s social interaction, we can not only provide enhanced social support, but also reduce loneliness and isolation.2

How hearing loss impedes music appreciation

Unsatisfactory music appreciation in individuals with hearing loss, with or without hearing aids, has been well documented. Research shows that individuals with post-lingual hearing loss of any degree note a significant decrease in music enjoyment post-onset of hearing impairment. Additionally, those with more severe losses noted a greater decline in music enjoyment both with and without amplification. Individuals with single-sided deafness noted music to be less natural, pleasant, and distinct than before the onset of hearing loss.6

While music appreciation and perception has been studied in individuals with cochlear implants and hearing aids, with varying results, there is a lack of similar research into bone anchored hearing systems (BAHS).

Music perception in BAHS users

By utilizing a myriad of quantitative tasks evaluating pitch, harmony, rhythm, and timbre, a recent study aimed to fill this gap and compared music appreciation and perception in BAHS users and peers with normal hearing. BAHS users included in the study were diagnosed with either asymmetric hearing loss or single-sided deafness. As noted above, without some form of amplification, these individuals not only experience speech perception difficulty, but unsatisfactory music perception and appreciation. The present study found that when utilizing a bone anchored device, users not only obtained similar scores when comparing their BAHS ear to their “better ear,” but they also performed similarly to their normal hearing peers. These findings are important, as they show that BAHS can help to maintain the integrity of music for users.7

When focusing on the Ponto™ system, users had better scores on instrument identification tasks when compared to users of a competitor’s device.7 Let’s dive into how Oticon Medical maintains music integrity and improves quality of life for our users.

Ponto and music appreciation

98 percent of all users report an increased quality of life after minimally invasive Ponto surgery8, and as we discussed prior, a large part of quality of life is music! But how do the Ponto 5 family of hearing processors maintain music integrity?

Figure 1: Maximum Force Output (OVFL90)

Figure 2: Output 50 dB SPL, Full-On Gain

  • Optimized output (Fig. 1) and uncompromised gain (Fig. 2) – Not only do Ponto 5 Mini and SuperPower hearing processors provide access to an increased dynamic range, but they provide appropriate gain and better audibility for even soft sounds.
  • No risk of feedback – While charts and graphs can show how much gain is provided by a product, those figures don’t take feedback into account. As a user moves through their day, the risk of feedback is ever-present; whether they’re hugging a loved one or taking off a hat. With traditional feedback management, gain is reduced whenever feedback is present. This limits users’ gain throughout the day. The Ponto 5 processor employs a feedback management strategy that not only maintains gain but prevents audible feedback.
  • Special programs – Ponto 5 makes several preset special purpose programs available to its users, including one for music. This program is specifically designed to further maintain music integrity by increasing gain for the mid and high frequencies and reducing compression for low frequencies.

As research and innovation expand our understanding of the therapeutic benefits of music, it becomes increasingly crucial to acknowledge and appreciate its profound influence on human well-being. Whether experienced in the concert hall or integrated into therapeutic settings, music exemplifies the resilience of the human spirit and the profound transformative effects of artistic expression.

At Oticon Medical, we know music occupies a central place in the human experience, enriching our lives on multiple levels—emotionally, cognitively, and socially. We view our users holistically ensuring their quality of life beyond improved speech understanding alone.

References

  1. Looi, Valerie & Rutledge, Kate & Prvan, Tania. (2018). Music Appreciation of Adult Hearing Aid Users and the Impact of Different Levels of Hearing Loss. Ear and Hearing. 40. 1. 10.1097/AUD.0000000000000632.
  2. Fancourt D, Finn S. What is the evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being? A scoping review [Internet]. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe; 2019. (Health Evidence Network synthesis report, No. 67.) SUMMARY. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK553775/
  3. Bradt J, Dileo C, Myers-Coffman K, Biondo J. Music interventions for improving psychological and physical outcomes in people with cancer. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2021, Issue 10. Art. No.: CD006911. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006911.pub4. Accessed 29 February 2024.
  4. Hanna-Pladdy, B., & MacKay, A. (2011). The relation between instrumental musical activity and cognitive aging. Neuropsychology, 25(3), 378–386. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0021895
  5. Jamie B Boster, Alyson M Spitzley, Taylor W Castle, Abby R Jewell, Christina L Corso, John W McCarthy, Music Improves Social and Participation Outcomes for Individuals With Communication Disorders: A Systematic Review, Journal of Music Therapy, Volume 58, Issue 1, Spring 2021, Pages 12–42, https://doi.org/10.1093/jmt/thaa015
  6. Meehan, S., Hough, E. A., Crundwell, G., Knappett, R., Smith, M., & Baguley, D. M. (2017). The impact of single-sided deafness upon music appreciation. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 28(05), 444-462.
  7. Jiam NT, Formeister EJ, Chari DA, David AP, Alsoudi AF, Purnell S, Jiradejvong P, Limb CJ. Music Perception in Bone-Anchored Hearing Implant Users. Laryngoscope. 2024 Mar;134(3):1381-1387. doi: 10.1002/lary.30919. Epub 2023 Sep 4. PMID: 37665102.
  8. Lagerkvist H, et al. (2020). Ten years of experience with the Ponto bone anchored hearing system – A systematic literature review. Clin Otolaryngol. 45(5):667-680.

 

Audiology Awareness: An Important Conversation

“What do you do for a living?”

“I’m an audiologist.”

“What’s that?”

If you are an audiologist, chances are you have had a version of this conversation with someone.

As I enter my 19th year of audiology practice, and I reflect on the number of times that I have had to explain my field of work to someone that I just met, my mind is filled with questions. We live in changing times in the field of audiology, in which over-the-counter hearing aids have been approved by the FDA, and patient performance has significantly improved thanks to the advances of hearing aid and hearing implant technology. As clinicians, we are able to give our patients with varying degrees of hearing loss more treatment options than ever. At the same time, multiple recent studies have shown deep connections between hearing loss and other health problems, such as dementia, depression, and a heightened fall risk.

Thus, the question begs to be asked: In 2022, why are there so many people who don’t know what an audiologist is?

Why raising public awareness about audiology matters

In my quest to answer this question, I happened upon an original study published in 2022 by the Hearing Health Collaborative in Otology & Neurology. This study, entitled “Awareness, Perceptions, and Literacy Surrounding Hearing Loss and Hearing Rehabilitation Among the Adult Population in the United States”,[1] took a deep dive into our adult population’s mindset about hearing and hearing loss.

This study, which included 1,250 surveyed adults between the ages of 50 and 80, revealed that for this group, addressing hearing loss was third to last on a list of 11 health conditions that people felt needed to be prioritized. This study also revealed that only 9 percent of survey respondents could identify what constituted “normal hearing”, while 93 percent could accurately identify what is considered “normal vision”. The survey respondents overwhelmingly stated that they would be more likely in the next 12 months of their lives to take their pet to a veterinarian (59%) than to get their hearing tested (27%). Another interesting takeaway from this study is that only 15 percent of primary care physicians regularly screen their patients for hearing loss during regular check-ups.

This study comes at a time when, although treatment options for hearing loss have increased and become more advanced, adoption of those treatments amongst patients remains low. Current estimates are that only about 20 percent of the adult population with hearing loss seek treatment for their condition in the form of hearing aids or implantable devices.

What’s next for audiology?

Audiology has come far in the last few decades, but we still have work to do. What are some action items that we can perform to promote the services we provide as audiologists and encourage others to move hearing health to the top of their priority list?

Encourage loved ones to get their hearing checked

We can start our efforts at home. Often, we joke with our significant others and family members about selective hearing, but the reality is that I don’t know when my own mother last had her hearing tested. Audiologists are well-versed in the research that earlier is better when it comes to seeking treatment for hearing loss. We can speak up and encourage regular hearing tests amongst our own friends and family and teach them why identifying hearing loss early makes a difference. We can promote audiometric screenings and widen the reach of our profession by starting with those in our inner circle.

More research is needed

We need to discover why the adoption rate of hearing loss treatment is so low. The study I mentioned above leads to more questions, such as:

  • What piece are audiologists missing in educating our patients?
  • How can we do better?
  • This particular survey was completed in people aged 50-80. What about younger adults?
  • How can audiologists work to reach the population in their younger years to start promoting hearing health sooner?
  • How prevalent is gender, cultural, and age bias toward adopting treatment?
  • How can we work to improve the barriers to treatment, such as reimbursement and that low referral rate from primary physicians?

For clinicians, questions lead to more questions, and the need for continued research in this important area cannot be minimized.

A call to action

Hearing loss is invisible. No one can see it. It can cause poor quality of life, social isolation, and difficulty in relationships. Audiologists can normalize regular hearing screenings and bring hearing health from the back burner to the front of people’s minds. Our gift to give as audiologists is to bring that human-to-human connection that’s driven by good conversation back to those who have lost it due to their hearing loss. One by one we can work to make sure that the next time someone asks what you do for work, and you tell them you’re an audiologist, you get a nod and a knowing smile.

March 3rd is World Hearing Day

As I googled hearing loss awareness and explored the internet for information to add to this article, I found that March 3rd is World Hearing Day as designated by the World Health Organization (WHO). Audiologists can take this moment to celebrate what we do and promote to our patients the importance of making hearing health a top priority. Perhaps it’s a good opportunity to invite new and existing patients to your office for an annual hearing screening. World Hearing Day is a global initiative that we can use to our advantage to spread the word about the effects of hearing loss on quality of life and why treatment matters.

About the author

Courtney Smith, M.A., CCC/A, is the Clinical Trainer for Oticon Medical. She in in her 19th year of practicing audiology. She has practiced in private practice and university hospital settings in Las Vegas, NV. She completed her training at the University of Iowa in 2003.

 

[1] M.L. Carlson, et al, Awareness, Perceptions, and Literacy Surrounding Hearing Loss and Hearing Rehabilitation among the Adult Population in the United States, Otology & Neurology, Vol. 43, No. xx, 2022

 

Raising Awareness of Hearing Loss

To highlight and help increase awareness of hearing loss, this blog is dedicated to the efforts that surround the national campaign for May as Better Hearing and Speech Month. Hearing loss is ranked as one of the most common chronic health conditions that U.S. adults experience, affecting an estimated 48 million people nationwide. New polling released by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) reveals an overwhelming disconnect between the high value that Americans say they place on their hearing and their low willingness to be treated for any hearing loss. This has prompted a new public service announcement (PSA) campaign: Act Now on Hearing. This PSA will air nationwide for the next year educating Americans on the signs of hearing loss and guiding those affected to find care from a certified audiologist.

People with hearing loss often wait an average of seven years before seeking treatment. When left untreated, hearing loss has been linked to several other health problems, including social isolation and depression, cognitive decline, and increased stress levels. A 12-year study found that mild hearing loss doubled dementia risk, moderate loss tripled risk, and people with a severe hearing impairment were five times more likely to develop dementia (Lin, et al, 2011).

Additional statistics learned from a poll conducted by ASHA of nearly 2,500 adults ages 18 and older found:

  • 80% of Americans say maintaining their hearing heath is extremely important or very important to their quality of life.
  • Only 2 in 10 (20%) adults have had a hearing test in the past five years, compared with roughly 6 in 10 (61%) who have had their vision tested.
  • More than half (51%) of all adults reported having hearing problems, but only 11% of those respondents have sought treatment.
  • More than three-quarters (78%) of those with hearing problems have had these difficulties for one or more years—and over one-third (35%) have had trouble for five or more years.
  • A 42% plurality of Americans understand that mild hearing loss can impact a person’s life or daily functioning. Yet, more than half of those with untreated hearing problems (56%) say that they would be unlikely to treat it unless it was “severe.”

Click through for additional information on Attitudes and Actions Towards Hearing Health Survey Results findings from ASHA.

A global spotlight

The World Health Organization (WHO) released the first-ever World Report on Hearing projecting that by 2050, 2.5 billion people will be living with some degree of hearing loss. This translates into 1 in 4 people worldwide, at least 700 million of whom will require rehabilitation services.

Hearing loss can be addressed through effective and timely interventions. In children, almost 60% of hearing loss is due to causes that can be prevented through measures such as immunization, improved maternal and neonatal care, and screening for, and early management of, otitis media. In adults, legislation on noise control and safe listening, and surveillance of ototoxicity can help maintain hearing trajectories and reduce the potential for hearing loss.

Click through to learn more about the World Report on Hearing.

Take action now

It is important to act now for a variety reasons, but in particular the recent COVID-19 pandemic highlights the importance of hearing, which allows us to remain connected to others when social distancing and losing visual cues due to the use of masks.

As audiologists we have the platform to help increase awareness, motivate those struggling with hearing loss to take that initial step toward treatment, educate others on hearing technology and its benefits, and counsel each patient we treat on the importance of protecting our ears from loud noises.

How can you get involved?  Consider any of the following:

  • Volunteer to present to your local community on the effects of hearing loss.
  • Post the present statistics surrounding hearing loss and the benefits of hearing technology on your social media accounts.
  • Offer free hearing screenings at your facility.
  • Encourage your inner circle of friends and family to complete a basic hearing test.
  • Lead by example and treat your own ears with kindness by reducing exposure to loud noises.

If we each commit to doing one thing to help raise awareness together, we can make a difference!

 

References

Kochkin S & Rogin C.  Quantifying the Obvious: The Impact of Hearing Instruments on Quality of Life;  The Hearing Review, January 2000.
Lin FR, Metter EJ, O'Brien RJ, Resnick SM, Zonderman AB, Ferrucci L. Hearing loss and incident dementia. Archives of neurology. 2011; 68(2):214-20. NIHMSID: NIHMS336097 PubMed PMID: 21320988, PMCID: PMC3277836
American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) 2021. Attitudes and Actions Towards Hearing Health. Survey Results; www.asha.org
 World Health Organization (2021): Report on Hearing; www.who.int

About the Author:

Carissa Moeggenberg is an audiologist who has worked in the hearing healthcare field for the past 29 years. She is presently the Training Manager for Oticon Medical.