An audiologist is a health professional who has been trained to assess, diagnose, test for and help people compensate for hearing problems. When hearing problems are diagnosed, they may help people cope with such problems, or make recommendations for medical treatment that could end or address these problems.
Appropriate diagnosis by an audiologist can frequently help people lead very normal and purposeful lives. When hearing impairments aren’t diagnosed, especially when they are minor to moderate, they often have significant impact on people’s lives and may affect school performance, social interaction and self-esteem. Hearing problems may also be misdiagnosed as mental illness, ADHD, other learning disorders, or speech/language impairment.
The work of the audiologist is as much social as it is medical, since hearing loss can impact so many different aspects of life, at any stage of life.
Acoustic sound waves are projected down the ear canal by the unique shape of our ears. Upon hitting the ear drum this acoustic wave is changed into a mechanical wave (vibration). This vibration passes through the three small bones (ossicular chain) to the inner ear (cochlear) where the mechanical wave is changed once more into a hydraulic (fluid) wave. In someone with ‘normal’ middle ear function the hydraulic wave will be a replica of the original acoustic wave.
15,000 microscopic stereocilia hairs that lie in the cochlear are stimulated by the movement of fluid and pass information regarding sound frequency along the auditory nerve to the auditory cortex portion of the brain. This is where the understanding of what we hear takes place.
Should there be a problem in the canal; any middle ear dysfunction; damage to the microscopic hairs in the cochlear; impedance to the signal along the nerve then the auditory cortex will not receive a perfect
replica of the original acoustic wave and misunderstanding will take place.
In addition to improving the hearing potential of all patients, there are two other areas of audiology that come under this heading.
95% of tinnitus sufferers have an associated hearing loss. 82% of these people can have their tinnitus alleviated by wearing two correctly programmed hearing aids. This percentage can be further increased by
including treatment for ‘Cognitive Behavioural Therapy’ (McKenna 1999).
In the UK the average waiting time between patients starting to lose hearing and doing something about it is 19 years (NHS figures). Over that time the brain habituates to a quieter regime and becomes intolerant to loud sounds.
The patient’s ‘Dynamic Range of Hearing’ i.e. how they respond to the difference between a whisper and a screaming baby will determine how the audiologist will programme the hearing system and the patient’s ongoing aural rehabilitation.
The initial consultation takes between 60 and 90 minutes:
Peter Ormrod is quite unique in the world of hearing aid audiology. His parents were deaf from birth and he himself suffers with severe hearing loss – this enables him to fully empathise with his patients.
Peter is a highly experienced, British trained and qualified Specialist Audiologist (HPC number HAD00899) with an additional Diploma in Ear Care for practitioners.
Peter was elected a Fellow of the British Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists in 2007 BSHAA3215).
He is currently studying at University of Bristol for a Master of Science degree in Audiological Rehabilitation (student no. 095314), much of his current research is in the field of tinnitus treatment and rehabilitation.
live the life you want with the hearing you have