by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
Recently as I was surfing the web, I came across an audiological web site that blew my socks right off. This audiological practice provides an impressive array of services to hard of hearing people, but what really arrested my attention was that this particular audiology practice had an “Ototoxicity Monitoring Program,” something that I have been saying for years that audiologists need to implement, but until now I had never seen advertised on any audiologist’s website.
The thing that really got my attention was that they tested hearing right up to 20,000 Hz—the upper limit of human hearing. In contrast, conventional (normal) hearing testing is only done to 8,000 Hz. Thus, conventional hearing testing misses the early stages of hearing damage from drugs, which typically first occurs at the highest frequencies the person can hear.
By the time hearing loss has progressed down to 6,000 to 8,000 Hz where it can be detected by conventional audiological testing, it is much too late to do anything about preventing hearing loss. By that time, drugs have very likely permanently destroyed the person’s high-frequency hearing.
Upon seeing this website, I couldn’t let this pass, I just had to phone Dr. Lisa and find out more about her high-frequency hearing testing program and why she was doing it.
It turns out she used to work for a cancer clinic where she did high-frequency hearing testing to monitor the effects of the highly-ototoxic drugs given to cancer patients. Thus, she knows the importance of high-frequency hearing testing. Therefore, when she moved into private practice, she purchased an audiometer that could test the high frequencies and set up her own monitoring program.
Incidentally, for years, when I have talked to audiologists, they kept telling me that normal audiometers only test to 8,000 Hz. and that it requires special audiometers to test hearing to 20,000 Hz, and that such audiometers were not readily available. Well, I have news for them. Audiometers that test to 20,000 Hz are indeed readily available. The one Dr. Lisa uses is the Grason-Stadler GSI-61 audiometer. Hard of hearing reader, you might suggest to your own audiologist that they get one of these audiometers so they can monitor your high-frequency hearing.
Another unusual thing I noticed about her website that really pleased me was that she carries all sorts of assistive listening devices (ALDs). Few audiologists do this, so I needed to find out why she places such emphasis on ALDs. It turns out Dr. Lisa is hard of hearing herself, and well knows the value of such devices. In fact, her hearing got so bad that she now has a cochlear implant. So not only is she an audiologist, she is also one of us hard of hearing people at the same time.
Her Colorado Tinnitus and Hearing Center carries a wide selection of ALDs including “Amplified telephones; Cellular phone adaptors, Personal Infrared and FM Television amplifiers; Personal Pocket talkers; FM Systems for students; Sonic alarm clocks with bed vibrator; Door bell alerts and much more!”
If you live near Denver, Colorado you might want to stop by for your audiology needs. You can reach the Colorado Tinnitus and Hearing Center by phone at 303-534-0163, or visit their website at http://www.tinnitusandhearing.com/services2.asp.