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Aural Rehabilitation for People with Hearing Loss

Aural Rehabilitation

Aural Rehabilitation services include a wide variety of things that help people cope with hearing loss. In most other situations in which a person loses some important function, rehabilitation is included as a standard part of treatment. Can you imagine, for example, having knee replacement surgery without having rehabilitation services to help you cope with your new knee.

Yet the vast majority of people with hearing loss are never offered aural rehabilitation, and many of them don’t even know what the term means. We think that’s a stinging indictment of our hearing loss professionals.

As agencies spring up to serve hard of hearing and late-deafened people, we’re starting to see these services become more common. But we’ve only just begun!

January 2013 – Going Beyond the Basics in Aural Rehabilitation

February 2012 – Cochlear Americas Announces Aural Rehabilitation App

February 2012 – What factors influence consumer use of auditory rehab services?

February 2012 – LACE Listening Training Software in Now Online

January 2012 – Verbotonal rehabilitation: Are we doing enough?

August 2011 – Retraining the brain when hearing aids aren’t enough

August 2011 – Entertainment overcomes barriers of auditory training

June 2011 – Optimizing Your Hearing Aid Experience by Training Your Brain to Listen

June 2011 – HLAA Convention: Communication Therapy – An Integrated Approach

April 2011 – A brief treatise on the service of aural rehabilitation

May 2010 – Empowering Patients Through Audiologic Rehabilitation Classes

March 2010 – Are Group Aural Rehabilitation (AR) Programs Effective?

November 2009 – Mark Ross on Veterans and Aural Rehabilitation

June 2008 – Tips for Hearing in Noise

June 2008 – HLAA Convention: Is group audiological rehabilitation worth the time, cost, and effort?

February 2008 – Straight Talk from an Audiologist

January 2007 – Here’s Mark Ross with his discussion of the recent “State of the Science on Aural Rehabilitation” conference.

Going Beyond the Basics in Aural Rehabilitation

January 2013

I was taught during my graduate studies that a successful aural rehabilitation program has many necessary ingredients, but what are they? This question has plagued me and many audiologists. The first sentence in my book says it all: The aim of aural habilitative and rehabilitative services on behalf of those with impaired hearing is to overcome the handicap. (Introduction to Aural Rehabilitation, San Diego: Plural Publishing, 2010.) This is an all-encompassing statement that covers many aspects of the services we audiologists offer the hearing impaired, but it leaves specifics unanswered. An audiologist makes a medical referral after discovering a hearing impairment and assessing its type and degree, perhaps anticipating that a physician can correct the problem. Referrals are made based on the hearing impairment, and if the hearing impairment cannot be treated medically, the audiologist works with the patient to remediate the effects of hearing loss and to overcome its communicative, social, and psychological effects.

What factors influence consumer use of auditory rehab services?

February 2012

This study demonstrates that patient factors, including gender, age, and degree of hearing loss, do not impact utilization of AT/AR services, while device technology and associated patient cost appear to increase utilization. Acquisition of higher levels of hearing aid technology resulted in greater utilization of services. When level of hearing aid technology was held constant, insurance coverage for hearing aids, and, by extension, elimination of cost to the patient, reduced the utilization of AT/AR services. As discussed here, future study in these areas is critical in policies regarding bundling and unbundling of devices and services. 

LACE Listening Training Software in Now Online

February 2012

Have you ever had trouble understanding your dinner partners in a noisy restaurant? Neurotone’s new web version of its popular auditory training software, LACE Online – http://www.neurotone.com/lol –  may be just what you need. LACE is a proven method of training your brain to better understand speech in challenging listening environments. Now that it’s directly accessible on the web, with an attractive $79 retail price ($59 if you take advantage of the limited time introductory offer – http://store2.neurotone.com/product-p/23-8.htm), it may be the easiest and least expensive investment you’ll ever make to achieve better hearing. 

Verbotonal rehabilitation: Are we doing enough?

January 2012

Neuroplasticity allows patients’ brains to restructure themselves when the optimal frequency response (OFR) with hearing devices and regular auditory therapy are provided. But are we doing enough to facilitate this restructuring? Verbotonal rehabilitation, an auditory-based strategy that maximizes listening skills of those with hearing impairment and other communications disorders, simultaneously allows the development of intelligible spoken language through binaural listening. The verbotonal system includes diagnostic therapy, habilitation, rehabilitation, speech disorders, and foreign languages. First introduced in 1967 at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, the method quickly expanded worldwide due to positive clinical outcomes, but clinicians still may not be taking advantage of some tools to improve word understanding for patients using hearing aids and cochlear implants. 

Retraining the brain when hearing aids aren’t enough

August 2011

When older adults can’t hear the phone ring or their spouses talking to them, hearing health professionals typically recommend hearing aids that can greatly enhance their auditory signal. But even with hearing aids, patients may still have trouble making out their grandkids’ mumbling or following a conversation in noisy venues. Often, hearing-impaired adults require additional assistance to improve speech comprehension and to cope in difficult listening situations. That’s where auditory training comes in. Auditory training aims to retrain the brain and ears much like physical therapy assists hip replacement patients in regaining strength and mobility. Experts have been employing it since World War II as part of an arsenal of aural rehabilitation services that military hospitals relied on to assist hearing-impaired veterans returning from the battleground. 

Entertainment overcomes barriers of auditory training

August 2011

Auditory training takes commitment, not just from audiologists who have to work intensively with patients over long periods of time, but also from patients themselves who have to spend hours improving their listening skills. The problem? Many auditory training programs do not live up to this standard, and patients often do not complete the program. Now, though, new computer-based programs are overcoming many of the barriers that have prevented the use of auditory training, reducing dropout rates and improving the effectiveness of auditory training. The key has been to make the process more engaging by using computer programs that provide face-to-face communication in noise while helping users improve speech comprehension skills. 

Optimizing Your Hearing Aid Experience by Training Your Brain to Listen

June 2011

We don’t really hear in our ears; we hear in our brain. Hearing aids can help a person detect softer sounds, but they don’t necessarily provide good listening skills. There is a fundamental difference between hearing and listening. Normal hearing alone does not assure that one is a good listener. We all know people who have normal hearing but are pretty poor listeners. Conversely, many hearing- impaired individuals are wonderful listeners. While hearing is a physical function that requires an auditory system that allows access to sound, listening is a skill that requires effort, and when a hearing loss is present, that effort becomes particularly difficult. Good listening skills are one of the components essential for effective communication. As technically advanced as modern hearing aids might be, they alone cannot produce the listening skills needed for communication. 

A brief treatise on the service of aural rehabilitation

April 2011

Aural rehabilitation (AR), in a traditional sense, comprises a rather vague set of principles that collectively encompass a wide range of restorative services that are provided on behalf of persons whose ability to communicate has been compromised as a result of impaired hearing. The term principles is used in this discussion since principles, per se, are generally characterized by sets of assumptions that emerge out of an entity or process for which they were designed. As one observes aural rehabilitation in a historic sense, the above is correct, since it seems that there are about as many theories as to what aural rehabilitation is as to what it is not, and as many models as there are persons who provide the service. Interestingly enough, as a result of a survey my colleague and I conducted two years ago, audiologists have not even reached consensus on what the process of aural rehabilitation should be called.

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