Assistive Technology Treatment Solutions
Although some forms of treatment can improve a patient’s ability to hear, they can’t fully restore hearing to normal. In hearing loss cases such as these, assistive listening devices and hearing aids are common rehabilitative strategies. These devices assist by providing amplification of the frequencies or pitches in which the patient experiences a hearing deficit. Assistive technologies also include non-auditory devices to assist the patient, such as a blinking light, to notify them that the doorbell or telephone is ringing or that an alarm is going off.
A cochlear implant may be an option for patients with severe-to-profound hearing loss. Unlike hearing aids, the implant doesn’t make sound louder or clearer. Cochlear implants bypass the damaged parts of the inner ear and send electrical sound signals directly to the hearing nerve.
Other rehabilitative strategies help patients focus on finding ways to cope with their hearing loss, such as developing alternative communication skills. Learning sign language or lip reading are examples of this kind of treatment.
Some forms of hearing loss require other treatment solutions compatible to the condition of the ear and the hearing status. It is refreshing to know that we live in an era when there are multiple technologies that can be adapted to specific hearing conditions to provide for optimal results. Some patients may have several options, depending on their specific type and degree of hearing loss, and may need to try one or more of these solutions before the best solution is identified.
Of course, protecting a patient’s ears from further damage is a key part of treatment. Since exposure to occupational and recreational noise is the most common cause of hearing loss, it’s critical to counsel your patients about the risks of hearing loss due to these types of exposure.
Provide patients with strategies to reduce noise exposures that include:
- Fitting them with hearing protection
- Increasing their distance from the noise, and
- Turning down the volume
As a healthcare provider, you may not be able to restore the hearing your patients have already lost, but hopefully you can prevent them from losing the hearing they still have.