A Novel Device and Protocol for Treating Debilitating Hyperacusis. #hyperacusis #tinnitus #cure

A Novel Device and Protocol for Treating Debilitating Hyperacusis
Dana A. Cherri, Professor David A. Eddins, & Professor C. Craig Formby, University of South Florida, USA
For more info see https://hyperacusisresearch.co.uk/
Hyperacusis is a condition characterized by intolerance to the loudness of everyday sounds that are not typically bothersome to typical listeners. Most patients with severe hyperacusis practice a form of self-treatment through the use of sound-attenuating earplugs or muffs to limit exposure to offending sounds in their environments. They also may withdraw from certain daily activities at home and work. Unfortunately, the use of earplugs or muffs acts as a form of sound deprivation that likely exacerbates the hyperacusic condition. The best practices treatment for hyperacusis is the use of ear-level sound generators that effectively expand the wearer’s dynamic range and, over time, can shift the loudness tolerance of a patient with hyperacusis towards normal. The clinical challenge is to transition these patients from their mal-adaptive sound-attenuating earplugs to a sound-enriched environment via sound generators to help them restore normal sound tolerance. Our novel approach involves a combination of a multi-function treatment device and counseling. The device begins with replacing the patient’s earplug with an earmold that provides robust sound attenuation via heat-activated stint within a custom earmold. When this attenuating mold is coupled to unity-gain amplification, low and mid-level sounds can be presented at their native sound levels while engagement of active loudness-suppressing (LS) compression which can limit the exposure to the high-level sounds that exceed the patient’s loudness tolerance. The LS effectively attenuates all sound levels above a patient-dependent limit and passes all sounds below this limit unity gain. In addition to benefits associated with more normal exposure to the vast majority of sounds, and avoidance of offending louder sounds, the device includes a sound generator that effects treatment through continuous exposure to a soft, sea shell-like sound that has an important role in the desensitization and plasticity processes associated with sound therapy. Additionally, the LS function made possible by the closed mold venting can be replaced by the wearer with an open mold for use in situations where earplugs or muffs would not normally be used, ensuring ongoing treatment. Importantly, our treatment protocol includes systematic, treatment-dependent adjustment of LS and specialized counseling that specifically tackles the hyperacusis condition and the treatment process. This research study is designed as an initial evaluation of the device and protocol with 10 adults (ages 21 or older) who have severe hyperacusis characterized by loudness discomfort levels (LDLs) less than 75 dB at two or more audiometric frequencies. The longitudinal protocol includes the use of LS and sound generators sound therapy over a 6 month period. The primary outcome measure will be the change in loudness judgements measured from beginning to end of the treatment period. Secondary outcome measures will include subjective questionnaire data assessed throughout the treatment period in addition to audiometric and loudness measures with and without the devices. Preliminary results of the treatment for moderate to severe hyperacusics will be presented and discussed.

Biography: Dana Cherri completed her undergraduate studies in Medical Audiology Sciences at the American University of Beirut (AUB) along with the clinical practicum in hearing and balance at American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC) in Beirut, Lebanon. She is currently a Ph.D. student in University of South Florida (USF) in the program of Communication Sciences and Disorders. Her current research is about a novel sound therapy treatment for individuals suffering from a debilitating hyperacusis, which includes sound enrichment through soundgenerating devices and a specialized counseling. She is working with her mentors Dr. David Eddins and Dr. Craig Formby on the development and evaluation of this research protocol. The work is being performed in the Auditory & Speech Sciences Laboratory at USF.

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