Aural Rehabilitation is important for Hearing Aid Success. Whether, you are a previous hearing aid wearer or not there is a certain period of adjustment the brain has to make while learning to hear again. It is important to understand this process and also to have realistic expectations of your hearing aids.
To Learn More About Aural Rehabilitation
First, how do we hear? There are three major parts of the ear that work together to send sound to the brain where it is interpreted. These are the outer, middle, and inner ear. The outer ear's job is to collect sound waves and funnel them along the ear canal to the eardrum. The middle ear is an air-filled cavity that contains three bones or ossicles. These bones are the malleus (or hammer), incus (or anvil), and stapes (or stirrup). Sound waves hit the eardrum, which cause these bones to vibrate sending the signal to the inner ear. This movement sets the fluid of the inner ear into motion, which shears thousands of microscopic hair cells. The shearing of a hair cell stimulates the auditory nerve which then sends an impulse to the brain where it is interpreted.
Types of Hearing Loss.
Now that we understand a little of about how we hear we need to review what can happen to the system to create hearing loss. Hearing loss can occur as a result from a disruption of normal function anywhere along the auditory system. Some types of hearing loss are conductive which is a result of a disorder of the outer and/or middle ears. As a result, sound is prevented from entering a normal functioning inner ear. Some examples are middle ear infection, fluid in the middle ear (with no infection), ruptured eardrum, tumors, stiffening or unhinging of the middle ear bones or it could be just earwax. Another type of hearing loss is sensorineural which results from disorders or damage to the inner ear (Cochlea) and/or the auditory nerve.
Causes of this type of loss are noise exposure, aging (presbycusis), heredity, ototoxic medications, syndromes, infections, head trauma, and tumors on the auditory nerve. Characteristics of this type of loss are usually permanent, can be degenerative, and are usually not treatable by medication or surgery. Hearing aids are the only solution. A third type is mixed hearing loss which is a combination of both a conductive and a sensorineural component.
Realistic expectations are important to have when wearing hearing aids. Some examples of realistic expectations would be getting to know your voice when wearing hearing aids. Your voice and the voices of others may sound different. Background noise will inevitably get amplified in addition to speech. As a result, some speech may be difficult to understand in noise. It will still be difficult to understand people talking in another room while using hearing assistance. Hearing aids are less helpful in rooms with hard floors, walls, and no carpet or drapes. A comfortable fit and volume without feedback is also important. They should make soft sounds audible, normal sounds comfortable and loud sounds tolerable. Additionally, keep in mind people with normal hearing find many listening situations difficult.
Most important is to be patient. With time and experience the noise and meaning will begin to sort themselves out. The more you wear your hearing aids the quicker this "sorting out" process will occur.