May is Better Speech and Hearing Month!

May is Better Speech and Hearing Month!

Leanne E. Polhill, LHAS, BC-HIS, BA Communication, Hearing Health, Hearing Loss, Mental Health, News, Research

Leanne E. Polhill, LHAS, BC-HIS, BA

Leanne E. Polhill, LHAS, BC-HIS, BA received her Bachelor of Arts Degree (BA) in 1988 from Stetson University, Florida Hearing Aid Dispensing License in 1990 and National Board Certification from the National Board for Certification in Hearing Instrument Sciences (BC-HIS) in 1992. Presently, Leanne E. Polhill is Chairperson of the Florida Department of Health’s Board of Hearing Aid Specialists, where she has served since her initial gubernatorial appointment in 2004.
Leanne E. Polhill, LHAS, BC-HIS, BA

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We all know that May is the month of some pretty important events, including Star Wars day, National Hoagie Day and National Clean Your Room Day (seriously), but the whole month is also dedicated to highlighting the communication problems people face.

This the aim of The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), who have launched their Better Speech and Hearing campaign this month to raise awareness of communication disorders and their effects on life outcomes.

For May 2019, the theme is “Communication Across the Lifespan,” which aims to show that communication disorders can impact you throughout your life. To that end, we thought we would share a story about the importance of treating hearing loss in maintaining communication from early beginnings straight through to old age.

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A Florida hospital was the scene of the first successful use of umbilical cord blood to treat acquired hearing loss in children. The first round of the study resulted in that the cord blood infusions used were safe, feasible, and well tolerated by the patients, leading to an extraordinary 45% of young patients showing improvements on Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) after their treatment.

The study was a real team effort. A paediatrician and a speech therapist joined forces to complete the study, which was powered by funding from CBR, a California cryobank company. Dr. James Baumgartner, MD and Pediatric Surgeon at Florida Hospital for Children, and Linda Baumgartner, Certified Auditory Verbal Therapist at Little HEARoes and Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech, ran the study at the Florida Hospital for Children.

Published in August 2018 by the Journal of Audiology & Otology, the work has been celebrated by hearing loss advocates as a step forward for the treatment of hearing loss. This is one of the first times that researchers were able to treat a sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL), a condition affecting a part of the ear so entrenched that no mainstream surgery currently exists to correct it. “We found a statistically significant improvement in a measure of hearing based on one of the tests we performed,” said Dr. Baumgartner.

Dr. Baumgartner is unsure of the exact reason as to why umbilical cord cells were able to treat the hearing loss, but he is aware that there is something special about the cells which help regenerate hair cells: “Unique properties of the cord blood cellular components are believed to spur regeneration of the cilia (hair) and support cells within the cochlea.”

Heather Brown, Vice President of Scientific & Medical Affairs for CBR, maintained that this good news might spur couples with a baby on the way to consider saving their own child’s umbilical cord blood in case more scientific discoveries like these may be found. “Expectant parents should be made aware of the one-time opportunity to preserve their child’s cord blood, as it is a pristine source of hematopoietic stem cells as well as other potentially useful cells.”

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About 15% of school-age children today have a form of low or high frequency hearing loss. As most language development occurs in childhood before the age of 12, the presence of hearing loss can have a huge effect on the development of language. Children with who suffer hearing loss or have difficult processing audio cognitively will face an uphill struggle when it comes to developing speech and language skills on par with those with normal hearing.

The earlier a child is affected with hearing loss, the more damaging they can be on the child’s development. Fortunately, early intervention can also mitigate issues quicker and help the child stand a better chance of developing at the same pace as their peers.

Hearing loss from an early age can lead to a domino effect which inhibits the development of the child.

  1. It takes longer for those with hearing loss to develop their language and speaking skills.
  2. This makes it harder for them to keep up at school.
  3. Finding hard to communicate with others leads to social isolation and loss of confidence.
  4. The loss of confidence and self-esteem may limit career ambitions.

Treating Hearing Loss at Encore Hearing

Even adults are at a disadvantage when developing hearing loss later in life. Hearing impairments in adults are linked to lower earnings, an increase in accidental falls, the loss of independence, and an increase in social isolation, anxiety and depression.  It has been more recently associated with dementia in older adults, prompting audiologists and healthcare practitioners to urge those with hearing loss to seek treatment early to mitigate the potential effects of compromised hearing.

To celebrate Better Speech and Hearing Month, are you ready to take charge of your hearing health? Call us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing test.