Always learning!

Sorry to not have shared info in this little blog of mine for a while.  The clinic has been getting busier and busier, (which is great!), but doesn't leave as much time for writing.  

Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend a conference in Florida with the theme, "A Revolution for the Senses."  The conference featured wonderful speakers on how the human brain integrates sensory information, with a special focus on hearing.  Here are some of the highlights:

Don Schum on differing perceptions of loudness

Don Schum on differing perceptions of loudness

Dr. Don Schum spoke on the importance that all of our sensory information match.  When there is a mismatch, it can lead to depression and other psychological consequences.  He quoted the research by Donald Ramsdell, PhD that came out of the aftermath of WWII, and the affects that noise induced hearing loss had on veterans.  One important aspect I hadn't thought of before is the perception of loudness may vary more than previous studies suggested.  

Dr. Jeff Salz spoke on the purpose of life, with all it's difficulties and challenges.  I found his description of the "hero's journey" exceptionally appropriate for anyone dealing with a chronic health condition (which includes hearing loss.)  He shared some of his experiences among the gauchos of South America near Patagonia.  What he took from that experience were these teachings from one man in particular.  "There is no where to go, there is nothing to do, except to be of service."  

Dr. Helene Amieva on the relationship between hearing loss and cognitive decline

Dr. Helene Amieva on the relationship between hearing loss and cognitive decline

I was really fascinated by the work done by Dr. Helene Amieva from France.  She is a professor of psychogerantology, and has been studying the effects of cognitive decline.  Her study looked at the relationship between education, hearing, and cognitive decline, and the results were striking.  Two key components were cognitive reserve and using hearing aids.  Those who were educated, had good social networks and skills, had a vocation they enjoyed and stayed healthy were better able to combat the effects of dementia.  If there was concomitant hearing loss, the deterioration happened much more quickly.  However, if hearing aid were used, the decline followed the same progression as those with cognitive reserve.   

Anna Mette Mohr, quoting Kirgegaard

Anna Mette Mohr, quoting Kirgegaard

A focus of this conference was on tinnitus. Dr. Anna Mette Mohr of Copenhagen is a existential psychotherapist who deals exclusively with tinnitus clients.   She partners with other health professionals in Copenhagen's House of Hearing, and described some important ways to view my work as an audiologist.  She introduced the concept of partnering, which rather than focus on fixing, there is a focus on working together to manage a difficult problem.  She discussed the four areas where tinnitus can affect a person:  physical, social, psychological, and spiritual.

Julian Treasure, of The Sound Agency, talked about the importance sound plays in every moment of our lives.  I hadn't thought about it before, but our vision uses only one octave of visible light, our hearing uses 10 octaves.  He gave many examples where the ambient noise in our lives is literally killing us.  He also talked about the difference between passively hearing and actively listening.  

I was very grateful to be able to attend this conference and learn from some great professionals.  I am always seeking ways to learn and improve so that I can better serve our community.