MAY IS BETTER HEARING AND SPEECH MONTH

Hearing loss is a wide ranging concern that affects everyone from newborns to senior citizens. Communication disorders are health issues sometimes dependent on early intervention. Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM) raises awareness of both.

BHSM addresses everything from autism and strokes to bilingual speech and language development. It’s a month that helps spread the word about the relationship and specifics of hearing loss and speech problems, as well as how to best combat their negative effects.

Why is Better Hearing and Speech Month important?

According to Johns Hopkins medicine, about “two to three of every 1,000 newborns in the U.S.” will have some level of hearing loss. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reports “approximately 15% of American adults…aged 18 and over report some trouble hearing” and “nearly 25 percent of those aged 65 to 74” have some form of rehabilitating hearing loss.

With hearing loss, communication disorders are more likely to occur, especially in children. That’s why early intervention is so important (why any intervention is, really), and why helping get the word out about BHSM is crucial.

What can you do?

1. Social media is the quickest – and often most effective – way to let everyone know about BHSM.

2. If you have kids, let their school or the school’s counselor know.

3. Reach out to your local legislators.

The American Speech-Language Hearing Association has a helpful rundown as well as a document pageoffering press releases, web banners, and printouts.

THE NEW YORKER AND NEW TECHNOLOGY

“In recent years, scientists searching for ways to restore hearing have made a number of promising discoveries,” writes David Brooks in the New Yorker. “The natural human tendency, though, is to do nothing and hope for the best, usually while pretending that nothing is wrong.”

The article, focusing on hearing technology and it’s increasingly tangible benefits, is personal, funny, and hits on a number of important points:

1. New technology is not only helping to manage hearing loss, but also helping prevention techniques (such as more advanced hearing protection).

2. Medical and genetic breakthroughs are just as important as technical milestones.

3. “If I could relive my adolescence, I wouldn’t listen to Steppenwolf with loudspeakers leaning against my head, and I wouldn’t have cherry bomb fights with my friends unless I was wearing ear protection.”

Brooke goes on to describe several new products, such as the Hearphones from Bose, the Starkey Halo, and the Starkey Soundlens. These devices not only include clever ways to hide (or make fashionable) the hearing aid, but they are also able to integrate into one’s daily, technological lifestyle. The Halo, for instance, is able to stream audio from certain devices right to the hearing aid.

Through the article, David Owens focuses on a point we all know to be sure: rapid inventions in hearing health technology are capable of transforming one’s lifestyle in pretty meaningful ways.

HEARING AND SLEEP

Sleep and hearing are not often though about together, but their relationship may be more important than you think. It’s safe to assume that hearing loss or a hearing related problem can affect the amount of sleep one gets at night. But can the amount of sleep affect the way you hear?

“Research indicates people who are well rested have active temporal lobes, which is the area of the brain that processes sound and interprets it as language,” says a recent healthy hearing article. In other words, the more rested you are, the better your brain functions. This could have a direct affect on your hearing.

Specific disorders can also cause problems. Take, for example, a disorder like sleep apnea. Some researchers believe that sleep apnea can lead to hearing loss due to reduced blood vessel function. “Auditory hair cells of the inner ear depend upon good blood flow,” says that healthy hearing article. Slow blood flow may damage certain parts of the ear.

Sleep can also affect other hearing related problem, such as tinnitus. A sleepless night (in addition to maybe an overindulgence of alcohol or caffeine) can often temporarily increase tinnitus’s effects. Many sufferers often report more pronounced pulsing or whooshing after a poor rest.

Getting a good night’s rest is important, for both preventative and hearing maintenance reasons. It also never hurts to have a positive outlook.

TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY (TBI) AND SCHOOL TREATMENT

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and School Treatment

According to the published report “Mild traumatic brain injury: a neuropsychiatric approach to diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment”, Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI, “…is a common occurrence in the United States, with an estimated incidence exceeding 1 million injuries a year.” TBI is a big topic. It’s getting a lot of play in the news, in medical journals, in sports related discussions. It’s something that has been, historically, treated when severe and ignored when mild. And in both cases, the effect of withholding treatment can manifest in long term problems. From the published report:

“Given the large number of persons that experience mild TBI each year, it is indeed fortunate that the majority or these individuals recover fully within the first year following TBI. However, a nontrivial minority of persons with mild TBI, with estimates raining between 1% and 20%…will develop persistent cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and physical impairments that extend well into the late (> 1 year) following TBI.”

TBI Diagnosis

TBI can be diagnosed through a variety of tests. The Glasgow Coma Scale (measuring a person’s ability to speak, ability to open eyes, and ability to move) is one. There are also cognition and neurophsychological tests, as well as imaging tests such as CT or MRI scans.

TBI is classified as either mild, moderate, or severe.

TBI and Children

Whether during a game (organized or otherwise), or during an accident, if a child hits their head, they need to get tested. According to an article from the ASHA Leader by Roberta DePompei, the “effects of a TBI in childhood are not fully realized right away and, in fact, new challenges can emerge after the individual has become an adult.” As we said earlier, there are immediate effects, and there are long term effects. Each have their challenges, and each can inhibit progress, development, and growth.

An article on Brainline.org, a website dealing with “preventing, treating, and living with Traumatic Brain Injury(TBI)”, has a parents’ guide. Though focusing on rehabilitation from a moderate or severe injury, author Cynthia H. Bonner taps into the heart of the matter:

“Your child’s ability to cope with or develop strategies for dealing with these changes will vary depending on many factors. Some of these may include your child’s previous coping skills, her intellect and personality, the support available from friends and family, her emotional health, the strength of her relationships, the stage of development she was in when injured, and the extent of the injury.”

Returning to School with TBI.

Say your child is diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. Treatment is in place, the prospects are good, and you’ve done everything you can do. What’s the next step? If your child is out of school, how can you prepare for their return?

According to an article on msktc.org, “school personnel should be contacted as soon as possible after the injury to plan for the student’s return to school. School personnel can also connect the student with services they need while they are not in school.”

Each school will be different, and each school district will have their own plans in place. So it’s important you coordinate with your physicians and your educators. Ask a lot of questions and do a lot of research. Contact your school district, look into your school’s IEP and 504 plan. There’s lots you can do to prepare, and a good amount of resources out there to help you do it.

LOCATION SERVICES FOR THE HARD OF HEARING: PHILADELPHIA THEATERS

Location Services for the Hard of Hearing: Philadelphia Theaters

Every few months, REM Audiology will be releasing installments of what we’re calling our Location Hearing Blogs. In these installments we will discuss the options the hard of hearing have at certain local attractions. Options such as available FM or hearing amplification devices, and how those devices interact with their current aids.

This month: the Walnut Street Theater and the Landmark Ritz Theaters, both located in Philadelphia.

Walnut Street Theater

The other month we reached out to the Walnut Street Theater and got a quick response from Joel Markus, their production manager. Coming soon, Walnut Street Theater will have:

  1. 6 new Sennheiser emitter panels (transmitters) strategically located in the theater for optimal reception
  2. New Sennheiser headset receivers
  3. 10 to 20 personal loops for individuals with induction coils in their aids. (Side note: If you’re thinking of purchasing new hearing aids, be sure to purchase those that have induction or telephone coil technology. This is not a new technology, but it is a rapidly growing one).

According to the FAQ on their website: “The Walnut offers devices to assist the hearing impaired for MainStage performances. Infrared hearing enhancers are available in the lobby on a first-come, first-served basis; quantities are limited. ASL-interpreated, audio-described and open-captioned performances are available for certain performances.”

Keep in mind: it’s always a good idea to call ahead and see what devices any location currently has operational before attending. Their Walnut Street Theater box office can be reached at 215-574-3550.

Ritz Theaters

The Ritz Theaters (Ritz East, Ritz Five, Ritz at the Bourse) offer closed captioning devices and wireless audio systems.

The closed captioning viewing system is a CaptiView, which is a “personal closed captioning device that transmits dialogue to a small easy to read personal screen which attaches right to your seat.”

The wireless audio system, the Fidelio, is an audio receiver with a plug-in headset for the visually impaired, and provides descriptive narrations.

You can request devices from the box office cashiers, which they will program for you.

The Landmark website has more info.

T-Coil

T COIL LOGO blue 759x1024

If you have t-coil interactive hearing aids, remember to always look for this logo.

REM AND THE VA

A few months ago, REM Audiology started seeing veterans for hearing issues. Because of our history accepting Health Net insurance, the Veteran’s Administration community outreach program contacted us and wanted to know if we would be willing to help the VA hospital with hearing tests and aid fittings. We said yes, of course, and the very next day we started receiving calls.

So far, we have seen about 50 veterans, and the calls haven’t slowed down. We’ve given complete hearing tests, evaluated need for hearing aids, and fit aids in our offices.

The audiologists at REM Audiology firmly believe that hearing healthcare needs to be community based and community delivered. And since we are in debt to the veterans who put their lives on hold and put their lives in harm’s way to protect the freedoms of our communities, what better way is there for us at REM to pay them back than by offering premium hearing healthcare? We have always said that “improved hearing results in enhanced quality of life.”

If a veteran is in need of a hearing test, or has an issue with any hearing device, the VA hospital faxes us an authorization packet. The packet contains specific CPT codes that are then approved. After we get the packet and the codes, the first appointment is set up. Contact REM Audiology at (888) 710-5734 for more information. Ask to speak to Dr. Elizabeth Patterson directly.

LYRIC 3 UPGRADE TRAINING

The hearing aid specialists and audiologists at REM Audiology have recently been trained in the dispensing of the Lyric upgrade to the new Phonak Lyric 3 hearing aid.

The Lyric hearing aid by Phonak is the only extended wear hearing aid worn by the patient 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for months at a time. The aid is inserted into the ear canal by a trained hearing aid specialist and remains in the ear for up to 3 months.

The research and development team at Phonak hearing aids is constantly looking for ways to improve their product. The information below is from the April 2014 issue of Hearing Review:

  • Next generation low-power, deep-ear chip that enables enhanced adaptive signal processing
  • Adaptive signal and compression processing to provide clean, natural and undistorted sound in a variety of listening situations
  • Expanded gain range with per-patient amplification configuration
  • Ergonomic and easy-to-use programming wand that allows for independent, binaural programming at the ear
  • Improved pre-calc based on NAL and over 14,000 audiograms, and New programming options and software interface to provide increased fitting flexibility

See the full article

These upgrades have important functional implications which should result in inreased patient satisfaction with a product that many people are aleady raving about.

  • Longer life between replacements
  • Better performance (related to less moisture problems)
  • Increased satisfaction with wand performance
  • Increased optimization of patient’s performance related to increased sophistication of programming options made by the audiologist

The end result is increased patient satisfaction with a product that is already a favorite among the people I see.

Come in for yourself and experience the Lyric first hand. All Lyric demonstrations come with a 30 day free trial. A diagnositc hearing test is recommended before taking advantage of the trial.

Call us anytime with questions.

TBI WRAP UP

TBI Wrap Up

For the past few months, we at REM Audiology have been trying to talk as much as possible about traumatic brain injury, or TBI.

We started with a link from CBS News on our Facebook wall: ER visits for traumatic brain injury spike 30 percent, figuring it was a good place to begin. Not only have ER visits increased, but so has public awareness. Read more

BACK TO SCHOOL WITH HEARING LOSS

If your child has a hearing loss or hearing disorder, going back to school can be challenging. Whether it’s a new grade or a new school, their environment is changing, and with change, with an already difficult hearing loss lifestyle, comes stress. So it is important to find as much stability as you can. Talk with your school, figure out what devices your school system offers, and talk with your teacher, letting them know your worries and your ideas.

According to a pamphlet (which we’ll be attaching at the bottom of this post) called “Mainstreaming the Student who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing: a Guide for Professionals, Teachers, and Parents”, a child with hearing loss starts with a decisive disadvantage:

“Children with normal hearing often seem to passively absorb information from the environment and constantly pick up tidbits of information. This is referred to as incidental learning. A child with hearing loss cannot casually overhear what people say and since a great amount of information that a child learns is not directed at him/her, it stands to reason that s/he misses out on essential daily information. As much as 90 percent of what a normally hearing individual learns is from overhearing conversations…”

This sounds kind of scary, and it is. But with proper assistive listening devices, and easy to implement classroom techniques, your child with hearing loss doesn’t have to suffer, or start from a lower rung.

Classroom Tips

  • The pamphlet quoted from earlier lists some classroom tips for the teacher to follow.
  • Seat student with back towards light source
  • Seat child with better ear towards teacher
  • During group activities, encourage the student to watch faces of other children when they speak
  • Semi-circle seating
  • Try not to seat child near open windows, air conditioners, anything that can make noise
  • Seat in front of classroom, with good visual access to teacher
  • Seat child near a buddy to assist in keeping the student on track
  • Identify speakers and reduce visual distractions
  • Use captioned video tapes
  • Check for understanding

Assistive Listening Technology

In addition to hearing aids, assistive listening devices are one of the most important tools you can use against hearing loss in the classroom. Assistive listening devices “encompass a range of products destined to solve the problems of noise, distance from the speaker and room reverberations.”

One such device is a FM or infrared system. A FM system is used to deal with distance. It’s a remote microphone that is placed close to a sound source and operates like a tiny private radio station. The teacher will usually clips a microphone to their clothing.

Other systems include: automatic speech recognition and educational transcription systems. It’s important for you to approach your school to see what they offer.

What SHOULD My School System Offer

Laws will differ state by state. Except for federal laws, of which there are a few.

The IDEA act is one such federal law. The IDEA act determines the special educational services children will receive from a school system, and requires them to provide students with a disability a free (public expense, without charge to student’s family) and appropriate education.

There is also the Americans with Disabilities Act:

“The department of Justice oversees the position of Title II (public services) or the ADA implementing regulations that specifically addresses the obligation of a school board for other public entity to remove communication barriers for deaf individuals. This includes furnishing, at no cost, auxiliary aids and services where necessary to afford individuals with a disability an equal opportunity to participate in a service or program…”

On the state level: Grace’s Law. Grace’s Law is a New Jersey statue, which requires certain health benefits plans to provide limited coverage toward purchase of hearing aids.

More info on New Jersey laws here: http://www.nj.gov/education/specialed/deaf/

And Philadelphia laws here: http://webgui.phila.k12.pa.us/offices/e/ee/opportunities/speech-vision-hearing-opportunities/speech-vision-hearing-opportunities/teacher-of-special-education—hearing-impaired

This is only a quick overview, it is important to figure out just how your specific school works within the bounds of state and federal laws.

Overview

As you can see, this is not an easy issue. There are many tools that can be used, and many issues you must come to terms with. Getting your child with hearing loss help in the classroom ranges from simple steps a teacher can take, to laws on the state and federal level. If you have any questions, REM Audiology would be happy to answer them. Just give our office a call at 888-710-5734, send us an email at [email protected], or leave a comment on this blog.

Here’s to a productive and healthy school year!

BEHIND THE SCENES OF AN REM AUDIOLOGY OPEN HOUSE

Behind the scenes of an REM Audiology open house

Community awareness and education of hearing health care and hearing wellness is a vital aspect of REM Audiology’s mission statement. Such awareness and education does not happen without establishing and implementing an outreach program. One such outreach is the open house, offering free screenings and an opportunity to learn about one’s personal hearing wellness situation. Knowledge is power, and REM Audiology’s mission statement includes empowerment.

These open houses do not happen by themselves. They are the result of an orchestrated effort among the audiologists/dispensers, front office professionals, patient coordinators/telemarketers, and our marketing/website professionals. REM audiology’s director/owner works a year in advance to determine which open houses will be held throughout the year and which type of outreach will be used (direct mailer, newspaper inserts, newspapers ads, and website ads).

Dates for the open house are determined and the availability of REM professionals are insured. Extra patient time is reserved during these open house dates. The events often include a financial promotion as a means of thanking the community for coming in and finding out about REM Audiology and hearing wellness. There are events where lunch in a noisy environment are included in order to give the community member an opportunity to try first hand what a hearing device can do to make listening more enjoyable and fun in a noisy situation. When communication is more relaxed, the community member becomes more engaged in the social situation, promoting physical and mental wellness.

When the open house date arrives, REM Audiology insures that each office is equipped with devices for demonstration. The patient is invited to take the device out for a no risk one week trial. In cases of Lyric hearing aids, the no risk trial is 30 days. Followup appointments are then arranged, at which time a diagnostic hearing test is performed if necessary. Real ear measurements are also taken at one of the subsequent follow up appointments.

For real ear measurements, a small microphone that looks like angel hair pasta is placed comfortably on the floor of the ear canal. A computer records how much sound is delivered through the hearing aid to the ear drum and the results are compared to a target based upon the individual’s hearing loss in the computer.

On subsequent visits we ask our patient for feedback on the benefits the device offers in specific areas of his or her life. REM professionals call this list our report card, and we all want to get an A+ in addressing the individual’s hearing needs.

For our community members who cannot make the specific open house event, we do extend the time of the event when necessary. The important issue at hand is community awareness and education. We at REM Audiology would be so honored to have you take advantage of these opportunities. REM Audiology has at least one event per month, so keep your eyes open towards the newspapers, the mail, and our office events section on our website.