This week Ron Leavitt, Au.D and Carol Flexer, Ph.D are presenting our research findings at the International Conference of the American Speech Language and Hearing Association in Orlando, Florida.
Falls are pervasive among people over age 65 in this country. Making this problem worse, the incidence of falls among people with hearing loss are three times greater than those with normal hearing when other risk factors are equated.
The Center for Disease Control reports that every second an older person in this country falls, making falls the number one cause of accidental injury and death in people over age 65.
In 2014 alone, older Americans experienced 29 million falls causing seven million injuries and costing an estimated $31 billion in annual Medicare costs, according to a new report published by the Centers for Disease Control.
In addition, falls are the number one cause of traumatic brain injury in this country affecting 5.3 million who routinely suffer cognitive and physical impairments for months or years after the injury. Further, traumatic brain injury has been positively associated with epilepsy, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease which often signal an end of an individual’s independence.
In an attempt to stem the tide of frequent falls in the elderly the Mayo Clinic group has offered the following advice:
- Discuss any fall you have with your doctor and have your medications checked for those which may be contributing to poor balance.
- Engage in physical activity such as walking to strengthen your legs and improve your balance.
- Wear sensible shoes to maintain better balance. High heels and socking feet are not recommended.
- Remove tripping hazards from the house such as loose rugs, loose wiring, phone cords, extension cords, immediately cleanup all water and oil spills when they occur and use rubber mats in the bathtub/shower with grab bars.
- Light up your living space with night lights in all walkways and a lamp near your bed. Use high illumination bulbs all over the house.
- Use handrails on both sides of all stairways and use nonslip surface on all wooden stairs. Occupational therapist can assist you in making your house fall proof.
In addition to these recommendations noted above, we are highlighting important strategies for fall prevention that go beyond those provided by the Mayo Clinic group. Join us at 2:30 to 4 PM on November 14th at Corvallis Good Samaritan Hospital Conference Room B where we will be offering a fall prevention workshop. The public is invited. No personal information will be taken, and free refreshments will be served.
At this November 14th meeting active people in their 70s, 80s and 90s will be discussing the strategies they have used to remain physically active, free of frailty and free of falls for years. In addition, our new book on Lifetime Physical Fitness will be made available to workshop participants for a nominal fee as frailty is highly associated with falls in contemporary research.
If you or a loved one are at risk for falls this conference is for you. For further information, contact Corvallis Hearing Center at 541- 754-1377.
At times, medical knowledge moves forward in leaps and bounds. At other times such knowledge moves forward in a more gradual fashion. Such has been the case with our knowledge of the effects of hearing loss on the brain.
Seven years ago, Dr. Frank Lin of Johns Hopkins Medical University reported that hearing loss was highly associated with dementia and accelerated brain shrinkage. At that time, our medical knowledge on this topic took a giant step forward.
Since that report, our understanding of this relationship has been more evolutionary. For example, Drs. Glick and Sharma showed that untreated and poorly treated hearing loss results in a scrambling of brain resources.
These researchers showed improperly treated hearing loss results in inappropriate use of the frontal and prefrontal areas of the brain. Typically, these two areas of the brain are associated with memory and reasoning. However, in the case of poorly treated hearing loss, these two brain areas are used for understanding speech, lending credence to Dr. Lin’s hypothesis that hearing loss may overwork the memory and reasoning areas of the brain.
On a positive note, Glick and Sharma showed that properly fit hearing aids may reset the brain so that the auditory area is once again used for listening. Now the frontal and prefrontal brain areas can resume their normal functions.
More recently, it was discovered that hearing loss upsets the normal rhythmic pulses and interconnections the brain uses to communicate among its different functional areas.
Within the last few months, two separate reports out of Boston and Northwestern Universities showed reestablishing appropriate pulse rates among these different areas of the brain results in significant memory improvements in older people.
These studies, when considered together, suggest the possibility that properly treated hearing loss with hearing aids, perhaps combined with brain pulse resetting, may combat the devastating effects hearing loss may have on memory.
Currently, several large-scale studies are under way, examining the potential therapeutic benefit of properly fit hearing aids and brain pulse resetting on memory. In the interim, it appears medically prudent to treat hearing loss sooner rather than later, as the average delay between diagnosis of hearing loss and treatment has recently been reported to be nine years. It is no longer appropriate to view hearing loss as an inconvenience that can be ignored.
At our clinic, we are currently reviewing the records of 51 patients who have normal aided scores on the same speech in noise test shown by Glick and Sharma to signal brain resource preservation in hopes of identifying those therapeutic steps that can properly reset the brain.
Those interested in obtaining further information on this topic are invited to the monthly meeting of the Oregon Association for Better Hearing at Corvallis Good Samaritan Hospital, Conference Room B on the second Thursday of every month from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.
This is our presentation we did on August 8th, 2019.
Regardless of hearing aid brand or model there are a number of facts that you should know to maintain the hearing aids’ optimum performance.
Watch the video below to hear us discuss 12 must know items for maintaining optimum hearing aid function.
Mouse cochlea with hair cells shown in green and auditory nerves shown in red. Credit: Doetzlhofer lab
Researchers at John Hopkins Medicine have found a pair of proteins that control when hair cells are created in the inner ear. This finding, published on June 12th, may hold the key to curing people with irreversible hearing loss.
Approximately 90% of genetic hearing loss is due to hair cell problems or auditory nerve damage. Hearing loss due to excessive loud noise exposure or viral infections damages these hair cells. Fish, amphibians, reptiles, and birds can regenerate their damaged hair cells. Humans cannot regrow their hair cells. Once our hair cells are damaged hearing loss is permanent.
Corvallis Hearing Center will continue to follow this ongoing research and talk about this new finding at one of our future seminars.
Attend our FREE monthly seminar held at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center on the second Thursday from 3:30pm – 5:00pm of every month. Click here for this month’s topic and meeting room location.
Corvallis Hearing Center recommends hearing aids based on your Degree of Hearing Loss, Lifestyle, Communication Needs and Budget.
Hearing aid technology has vastly improved. Gone are the days when hearing aids were big, squeak-prone and useful only in dead quiet environments. Today’s hearing aids are equipped with digital microcomputers that automatically adjust sounds to make speech audible and comfortable for you. Today’s hearing aids are more discreet, more comfortable, and can improve your understanding of speech better than ever before. [Read more…]
The heart of Corvallis Hearing Center and the passion and purpose of Dr. Ron Leavitt is to serve the people of our community.
One of the ways we strive for this is being a part of Oregon Association for Better Hearing and offering once a month educational seminars at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center here in Corvallis. Our hope and desire for these meetings is to arm the community with knowledge and power on hearing health and hearing options. [Read more…]
Typically it is thought that we hear with our ears. We actually hear with our brain. The ear is just the path it takes to the brain.
Our brain and our ears work together as a team. The ear collects the sound waves and the brain processes those sound waves/electrical signals into speech or into something we can identify around us. [Read more…]
In recent years the focus on hearing health care has shifted from the ears to the brain. One needs to only Google hearing loss and cognition to find dozens of articles in medical and hearing health care journals in the past few years. [Read more…]
A recent publication from Dr. Anu Sharma and colleagues at University Colorado, Boulder showed people who achieve a normal score with their hearing aids on a difficult speech in noise test were spared the brain resource reallocation reported for her subjects who have untreated or poorly treated hearing loss, perhaps explaining the strong relationship between hearing loss and dementia as noted by Dr. Frank Lin and colleagues at Johns Hopkins. [Read more…]
“Hearing loss is not a harmless condition to be ignored or left untreated. It has tremendous impact on your life, and if left untreated, it can have serious emotional, (cognitive) and social consequences.” (Dr. Serge Kochkin, 2005).
Many people are aware Corvallis has a consumer education group for people who are hard of hearing. This group has met monthly since September 1988 and brings the latest scientific information to the community regarding hearing loss and hearing aids. Meetings are free to the public and take place on the second Thursday of each month from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at Corvallis Good Samaritan Hospital. [Read more…]
Several sources estimate Medicare will be insolvent by 2028. This dire prediction has produced numerous suggestions regarding how to cut medical costs and maintain Medicare.
In the area of hearing healthcare this charge for Medicare cost efficiency is led by otolaryngologist Frank Lin of Johns Hopkins Medical University.
Dr. Lin has suggested hearing healthcare could be more affordable by first removing all medical oversight for adults with mild-to-moderate hearing loss allowing them to self-diagnose and self-treat their hearing losses. [Read more…]
It has been widely accepted that as people age the hearing nerve cells degrade. Further this hearing nerve cell degradation was thought to be well estimated from the conventional hearing test procedure known as the pure-tone audiogram.
This age-related hearing loss was thought to be so predictable that the International Standards Organization developed a graph showing the average amount of hearing loss for each decade of life using the conventional pure tone hearing test. [Read more…]
Many view hearing loss as an inconsequential condition that can be ignored without serious implication. Why else would Medicare deny benefits for hearing loss evaluation and rehabilitation to those over 65? Why would people delay seeking hearing help for years? Scientific evidence no long supports this laissez-faire attitude. [Read more…]