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Old 26 September 2014, 06:43 PM
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UEL UEL is offline
 
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Baseball Claims about hearing recovery made in radio advertisements

This is a question borne from a radio commercial.

Background: in 1990, I was the unfortunate victim of an ammunition accident that considerably damaged my hearing. I was very young at the time (but serving in uniform) when it occurred**. My hearing was not too bad until the "normal" effects of aging started impacting my ability to hear clearly. So, I'm going deaf at an alarming rate and try to keep abreast of technology etc that deals with hearing.

Issue: Over the past week, I've heard a radio commercial from a local "hearing clinic" that offers deals on hearing aids. However, this clinic also claims to "retrain the brain on how to hear". It claims clinical trials have demonstrated hearing can be retrained to better focus on what we need to hear.

I'm trying to get a copy of the commercial.

My questions for those that understand the brain:

- if the hardware of the ear is damaged, how would you be able to retrain the software of the brain to better hear?

- would this retraining the brain be more akin to training it to better comprehend what it does hear?

- how would one be able to validate their premise that they can retrain the brain?

Up until now, all my reading on the science of hearing has been focussed on the repair of damage, or recovery of hearing capability. I'm keenly interested in knowing if this works. It may be legitimate and has flown under the radar for medical news (after all, it is not a cure for cancer or AIDS) or it may be merely a poorly founded claim to boost business.

Any insights are welcome!

**When I retire, my hearing issues will be compensated by the military (lifetime hearing aids etc) but I'm interested in hearing recovery technology.
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  #2  
Old 26 September 2014, 07:30 PM
jimmy101_again jimmy101_again is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UEL View Post
- if the hardware of the ear is damaged, how would you be able to retrain the software of the brain to better hear?

- would this retraining the brain be more akin to training it to better comprehend what it does hear?

- how would one be able to validate their premise that they can retrain the brain?
For the first question I would expect that "retraining" is done automatically by the brain.

For the second question, probably yes. The brain does a heck of a lot of signal processing and it can change (if needed) that processing if there is a "hardware" problem. An example of the processing the brain already does that enhances comprehension is that it heavily dampens echoes and reverberation. It also removes hiss, like wind noise.

For the third question, "retrain the brain" would be measured not as "retraining" but as results, which is really all that matters. I would think there are standard aural comprehension tests that, when coupled with standard tone tests (to determine how well the "hardware" is working), would be able to measure changes in comprehension.

If there is anything to the claims in the advert I am 100% sure that your hearing Dr. would know about it. Medical advances don't have to be about big name diseases for Drs in that particular area to be very attuned to advances (no pun intended).

There are "retraining" methods for tinnitus (usually ringing in the ears), but that probably isn't what you have.

There are also some clinical trials on "training" to increase the comprehension of high frequency words:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3210026/
Note that the general scientific disclaimer applies; "significant improvements" means the change is statistically significant, not that the change is worth the effort, cost or actually makes a difference in the patient's life.
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Old 26 September 2014, 10:27 PM
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Dropbear Dropbear is offline
 
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I'd agree with Jimmy that it is more likely to be training to improve comprehension using a variety of techniques to focus attention on the inputs you receive. I'd guess you'd be doing a lot of that anyway - given the amount of time that's passed.

The type of hearing loss you report is "acoustic trauma" and results from damage to the cilia in the cochlear. (I have the same sort of damage but from a different cause and am also going to go completely deaf - likely within a decade or so). That sort of damage just doesn't get better. It can be compensated for through hearing aids or replaced through cochlear implant.

I would note that most hearing aid commercials are solidly aimed at the 60+ crowd who have relatively new, mild - moderate, hearing loss for which they have not yet compensated. That is a group that will get a positive result from retraining through acceptance that they do have a loss and support to work better with what they have.

Dropbear
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Old 27 September 2014, 03:52 PM
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Atlanta Jake Atlanta Jake is offline
 
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Blow Your Top

Whoa! Back up... Jimmy, did you say that there are "retraing" methods to fight tinitus? I suffer greatly from that (26+ years of sirens, an explosion etc.). Could you give me a nudge in the right direction so that I might do some research?

I heard on the radio about a "remedy" and when I called to ask about it, they wanted a credit card number before they would talk to me... most "herbal cures" are questionable at best. I have tried a few "safe" herbal remedies, but I noticed no improvment. Until now, I had been under the impression that I was just out of luck... any help would be appreciated!

Jake
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Old 27 September 2014, 10:45 PM
jimmy101_again jimmy101_again is offline
 
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Jake

The wiki page is a start http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tinnitu...aining_therapy

Looks to me like it is a combination of avoiding things that trigger episodes (which of course only works for people with episodic tinnitus), adding background noise so the tinnitus isn't as noticeable, and training the person to not focus on the sound.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21601395
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20238353
Search Medline for Tinnitus Retraining Therapy
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Old 27 September 2014, 10:54 PM
RichardM RichardM is offline
 
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In the past couple of years, my tinnitus has gone away completely on 2 occasions. Unfortunately it came back after only a matter of hours in both cases. It happened as I was coming to from shoulder surgery. I attribute it to the nerve block used in my shoulder both times. I have tried explaining it to various doctors but none have seemed interested.
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Old 28 September 2014, 03:23 PM
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UEL UEL is offline
 
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Thanks, fellas. I posted my original post then ended up leaving the city for a couple of days on short notice. I've just returned and read up.

Tinnitus is something I've had ever since I joined the artillery. Too many howitzers and too many hours in an armoured vehicle.

I'm off to digest what I've read.

Thanks again
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