Happy BS&HM!
May is Better Speech and Hearing Month (BS&HM)! Traditionally, this is the time that hearing care professionals flood the airwaves and print media with messages about getting your hearing checked, dispensing office open houses, informational seminars, and generally espousing the message that “better hearing equals better living.” This year, the hearing care field received a huge boost with the paper entitled “Screening and Management of Adult Hearing Loss in Primary Care: Scientific Review” appearing in the April 16 edition of JAMA (Vol. 289, No. 15). In this report, Bevan Yeuh, MD, of the VA Puget Sound Health Care System/University of Washington and colleagues explain how hearing loss is underdiagnosed by doctors, and that “the primary care physician should vigilantly ask about hearing loss in older patients and recognize common symptoms of hearing impairment, such as communication impairment and social withdrawal.” Although about 40% of the US population older than age 65 suffers from hearing loss that a simple screening can detect, the study says that fewer than 10% of internists offer routine testing to older patients, and only 25% of patients with treatable hearing loss receive hearing aids. The researchers also discuss how undiagnosed hearing loss can lead to problems like depression and social isolation (for more statistics on quality of life and hearing aids, see Kochkin & Rogin’s NCOA article in the January 2000 HR). If ever there was ever a case of apt timing for the hearing industry, this is it; this article should be sent to every physician in the country. It is a “tailor-made” complement to the hearing care field’s Better Speech and Hearing Month endeavors.

  • Pediatric Audiology and Cochlear Implants: Speaking of “must-read” research, the Central Institute for the Deaf (CID) recently completed a 5-year study on early-implanted children. The research findings, which were originally published in a February monograph of Ear and Hearing (vol. 24, no. 1), is summarized and commented on in this month’s HR by Ann E. Geers, PhD. The study is remarkable for a number of reasons. Analyzing 181 children, the results indicate that a majority obtained exceptionally good outcomes for profoundly deaf children on several measures. Geers and colleagues found that many more children with profound deafness can achieve speech, language, and reading skills commensurate with those of their hearing age-mates than ever before. Additionally, factors such as an up-to-date speech processor and well-fitted map, along with educational settings which maximize oral listening/language skills, may help tilt the scales toward higher levels of verbal development. Whether or not your work takes you into cochlear implants or pediatric audiology, you’ll want to read this article as it provides an important and easily accessible update on the extraordinary advances being made in the implant field.
  • Passings: On a sad note, Robert Bilger, PhD, passed away in late December at age 76. An accomplished researcher, Dr. Bilger worked at the University of Michigan, University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Illinois, making large contributions to the field’s understanding of speech perception and psychoacoustics. Among several awards that he received was the American Auditory Society’s highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award, in 1999. He was perhaps best known for the standardization of the Speech Perception in Noise (SPIN) test that is widely used in dispensing offices.
  • Get Registered! Each July, The Hearing Review lists the names and phone numbers of hearing care professionals who register their name to be included in the white pages of the HR Worldwide Registry, thereby providing a handy reference for the entire hearing care field. If you’d like to be a part of the white pages this year, be sure to log onto the HR Web site (www.hearingreview.com) this month and update your listing!

Karl Strom