Advances in Brain Training

By Kathi Mestayer

Because the brain is an integral component of the hearing process, it sometimes needs help adjusting to new types of sound. The brain needs to fill in some of the blanks when hearing is impaired or when adjusting to a new hearing aid or cochlear implant. “Aural rehabilitation is so much more than speechreading [lipreading],” says Kathleen Cienkowski, Ph.D., an associate professor and the program director of audiology in the University of Connecticut’s Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences Department. “It’s basically retraining the brain.” She adds, “Cochlear implants, hearing aids, and listening systems can do wonders, but no assistive device is as smart as your brain. Our brains know what we want— and don’t want—to hear; integrate the other senses; and interpret body language, tone, pacing, and context.” Getting used to new sounds is a big adjustment. That’s when aural or auditory rehabilitation comes in. Cienkowski, who also coordinates the Aural Rehabilitation Interest Group for the American Speech-Language- Hearing Association (ASHA), defines it as “improving the quality of life and communication for those with hearing loss.”

To read the full article please read Fall issue of Hearing Health Magazine by clicking here

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Do You Know the Signs of Communication Disorders?

By Tara Guastella

Stuttering, a slow rate of speech, and mumbling. Struggling to say sounds, pulling or scratching at the ears, and social isolation. Did you know that all of these are signs of a hearing loss or a communication disorder?

Nearly 50 million Americans suffer from hearing loss and other communication disorders. These disorders, which are characterized by difficulty speaking or hearing, affect the youngest and oldest members of our society—and everyone in between.

When left untreated, their effects of can be debilitating. Too often, people struggle with these challenges and fail to seek proper, timely treatment. Early detection of speech, language, and hearing issues is absolutely critical to treatment success, impacting academic, social, and career outcomes.

Unfortunately, many parents, caregivers, spouses, and other loved ones are unable to identify the early warning signs of these issues or dismiss them too readily. A recent poll of the speech-language pathologists and audiologists of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)—the professionals who treat these disorders—reported that lack of awareness of these signs is the leading barrier to early detection.

To help remedy the situation, ASHA has launched a national campaign, Identify the Signs. We’re proud to announce that Hearing Health Foundation has joined this effort as a campaign partner. This yearlong multimedia campaign, which launched this fall, addresses the importance of early detection, helps the public identify the early warning signs of communication disorders, and encourages people to seek the most appropriate professional help.

The campaign includes TV, radio, print, and digital public service announcements and a media outreach push. Please visit the campaign website for information and resources, and share it with your family, friends, and colleagues. Above all, we hope you will seek help if you suspect that you or a loved one shows signs of having a disorder.

Early diagnosis is the most powerful way to reduce or even reverse the impact of these disorders and can give your loved ones the opportunity to lead the fullest lives possible.

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Hearing Health Foundation Announces "Pledge for Hearing Health"



Occurring in Conjunction with National Better Hearing & Speech Month

New York, NY (May 1, 2013)—In honor of Better Hearing and Speech Month this May, Hearing Health Foundation (HHF), a non-profit dedicated to finding a cure for hearing loss through innovative research, has launched a campaign to encourage individuals to pledge online to get their hearing, or a loved one’s hearing, tested. To take the pledge, please visit:

Nearly 50 million Americans experience hearing loss, yet the average person has trouble hearing for seven to ten years before having their hearing tested by a hearing healthcare professional. HHF will provide resources to help those taking the pledge find local hearing healthcare professionals as well as topics to discuss with their providers. In addition, for every person who takes the pledge,, a leading online resource for hearing health, will donate $1 to HHF to support groundbreaking research to prevent and cure hearing loss.

Also joining Hearing Health Foundation as partners in this initiative are the four major professional hearing associations: Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA), American Academy of Audiology (AAA), American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) and American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

“We are thrilled to have the support of all these incredible organizations, uniting together to support a very important health initiative,” said Andrea Boidman, Executive Director of Hearing Health Foundation. “Nearly every single person is affected one way or another by hearing loss. While our Hearing Restoration Project works to find a cure for hearing loss, our goal is to make hearing health a national priority. There are so many treatments available to help people hear better, and we want to encourage Americans to have their hearing tested and speak with a hearing healthcare provider about what options are available.”

"Most people have their teeth and eyes checked every year, but neglect to check their hearing. Hearing loss is the third most common health problem in America behind high blood pressure and arthritis," said Paul Dybala, Ph.D., President of "We wanted to support this initiative with Hearing Health Foundation to encourage people to visit a hearing care professional to get their hearing checked regularly."

As people often delay treating hearing loss, HHF notes several critical reasons to have your hearing tested, including:

  • Only 16% of physicians routinely screen for hearing loss.

  • 20% of preschoolers fail hearing screenings.

  • 72% of people attending senior centers fail the hearing screening.

  • People with a mild hearing loss are twice as likely to develop dementia; the likelihood to develop dementia increases with the severity of the hearing loss.

  • Hearing loss can lead to depression and social isolation.

In 2011 Hearing Health Foundation launched the Hearing Restoration Project (HRP), a consortium of scientists working on cell regeneration in the ear. The goal of the Hearing Restoration Project is to find a biologic cure for hearing loss through innovative research surrounding inner ear hair cell regeneration. Most non-mammals spontaneously regenerate these specialized cells after they are damaged, which allow them to restore their hearing, but humans do not and the Hearing Restoration Project aims to understand why. The Hearing Restoration Project brought together a consortium of 14 senior scientists at leading universities around the country, requiring them to share data in order to find a quicker path to a cure.

For more information or to see how you can get involved please visit:

About Hearing Health Foundation
Hearing Health Foundation is the largest private funder of hearing research, with a mission to prevent and cure hearing loss through groundbreaking research. Since 1958 Hearing Health Foundation has given away millions of dollars to hearing and balance research, including work that led to cochlear implant technology and now through the Hearing Restoration Project is working on a cure for hearing loss. Hearing Health Foundation also publishes Hearing Health magazine, a free consumer resource on hearing loss and related technology, research, and products. To learn more, subscribe to our magazine, or support this work, visit

Follow the Foundation on Twitter at: and like the organization on Facebook at: to stay current on hearing research, trends, technology and breakthroughs.

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