The Department of Phonoaudiology of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Chile will begin an investigation with a group of thirty elderly people with hearing difficulties who need to use clinical hearing aids. The premise is that through musical training and software developed by the same researchers, they learn to process the new information that their brain receives and thus improve their adherence to this electronic device.
Carolina Aliaga, Uchile Press.- In the silent fight against hearing loss, a significant part of the most vulnerable population is affected by an even more devastating problem: the give up hearing aids, a tool that could improve your quality of life. Older adults, who typically face hearing difficulties due to hearing loss, often must turn to these devices to reconnect with the world around them. Unfortunately, however, an increasing number of them abandon this invaluable resource, because they do not get used to using it.
To solve this problem, a group of researchers from the Department of Phonoaudiology of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Chile is recruiting participants for an unprecedented research that will use musical training and headphones in order to promote the incorporation of this technological tool among the elderly.
The study, led by Adrian Fuenteprofessor at the Laboratory of Audiology and Hearing Sciences of the U. de Chile, will be extended for five weeks, in which Thirty elderly people will be trained through melodies and different frequencies so that they learn the use and incorporate these instruments into their daily lives.. The program includes the free delivery of hearing aids to the participants.
“The studio is completely new. We are seeing if a musical training could improve adherence to hearing aids in older adults. For the sound training itself, people have to go to the University five times for a group session of five people, who have just been adapted or adjusted with headphones, and they will be taught general aspects of music, especially about musical perception”, explains Professor Fuente.
Participants will be given audio technology equipment to take home and continue this training using software developed by the researchers themselves. of the Faculty of Medicine. “We developed a computer program for people to work every day at home. They must practice with this program for 15 minutes, six times a week, with a day of recess, with the headset on and using some speakers that we will also provide them”, adds the teacher.
“There is a control group in parallel. They are also older adults, to whom we put hearing aids, but they do not receive musical training. They have the same weekly sessions with the same facilitator who does the music training, but they see other things, it’s not music perception training. There we compare, it’s like a placebo, let’s say”, adds the researcher from the U. de Chile.
How does this sound training work?
One of the reasons for the high churn rate is that these devices only turn up the volume of sounds, but do not help users process this new information. “Age-related hearing loss and aging is not only that the adult needs more volume, but also needs to improve information processing. So, since music is very rich both temporally and frequently, and previous studies have shown that musical training improves auditory processing, we came up with this: combining hearing aids with musical training because of the positive effect that musical training has on auditory processing”, details Fuente.
This is more than having the participants listen to songs, what the researchers will do is give them stimuli related to music. One of the exercises consists of listening to different melodies and trying to differentiate them. They will also be exposed to sounds with dissimilar frequency aspects, which differ in frequency, height and duration, among other elements.
The entire process is absolutely free and the study participants will take the hearing aids home as a gift.. So if someone thinks they do not hear well, is an adult over 60 years of age or older, contact the speech therapist Rocío Carvajal at +569 92190001 (phone and WhatsApp) or email [email protected]. The professionals from the University of Chile will carry out an evaluation to determine if the person has a hearing loss that requires a hearing aid and their feasibility of joining the study group.
Qualitative analysis: quality of life
The study has a more qualitative part with interviews with the participants to see their perception regarding the stigmatization of deafness and also regarding the process and the positive effects of this training. Professor of the Department of Phonoaudiology of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Chile, Patricia Jungea social anthropologist specializing in health issues, is in charge of this edge.
“My job in this study is to enter into the evaluation part of the impact of the intervention. What I did was design, especially for this study, a questionnaire of qualitative questions, that is, open questions, which what you are looking for is investigate the experience of older people who are adaptingincorporating into his life the fact of hearing loss associated with the deterioration that comes with old age and the need to use hearing aids in the form of hearing aids in order to maintain his quality of life and continue to function”,
In this sense, the questionnaire that he developed has questions that point, on the one hand, to the use of the hearing aid together with auditory therapy. Because What this study seeks is to investigate whether auditory therapy contributes to adherence to hearing aids. “So, what we are looking for is to see with what other elements a therapy could be achieved that achieves greater adherence, that achieves greater continuity and that achieves that hearing aids are properly and successfully integrated into people’s lives. If receiving a therapy that accompanies the adaptation to the hearing aid with musical hearing therapy, to what extent does this help?On the one hand, to adjust better, to better accommodate the device and, on the other hand, to feel better, to feel that the hearing aid is something that is incorporated into you, your body, your life, in a more natural way”, says Professor Junge.
Helping people to use their clinical hearing aids seems simple, but it means a very important leap in quality of life not only for individuals, but for the whole of society. «The quality of life has to do with people not only receiving the necessary help to be able to continue living in a functional and dignified way, but also functional and dignified in relation to their life course.. It is not only so that older people can have a good time, but so that they continue to participate in society, because society needs it. Well, for that you need to be able to be connected to the environment efficiently, that is, to be able to see, to be able to hear, to be able to move. The senses are what connect us with the environment”, adds the academic.
Next stage: brain analysis
This is a FONDEF project and has the approval of the Human Research Ethics Committee of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Chile. If the results are as expected, the idea is to continue with the study and in the future to see in much more detail what brain changes would occur with musical training plus the hearing aid.
“If the person perceives speech much better, it is because there is a change at the brain level, without a doubt. So, our idea would be to continue and do a similar study, but with slightly more advanced techniques to see what kind of changes and at what level occur in the brain”, says the professor.