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Aural rehabilitation for hearing loss: what is it and how does Constant Therapy help?

Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with hearing loss and struggled with carrying out certain aspects of your daily life since? Alternatively, perhaps, you haven’t been diagnosed with hearing loss yet but have noticed that you have to turn up the volume on your television in order to hear clearly and comfortably. Or are you an audiologist or other clinician working with or treating patients for hearing loss? 

If so, you are not alone. About 15 percent of all Americans over the age of 18 have some difficulty with hearing, and half of all Americans 75 years or older experience significant hearing loss. Encouragingly, there are steps that can be taken to preserve and improve quality of life while living with hearing loss. 

This article will provide an overview of what aural rehabilitation is, as well as summarize new research published in the journal of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) on how Constant Therapy can help individuals experiencing hearing loss as part of an aural rehabilitation plan.  

What is aural rehabilitation?

Aural rehabilitation—also commonly referred to as aural rehab, rehabilitative audiology, or AR—is an umbrella term for a holistic approach used to address hearing loss. The ultimate goal of aural rehabilitation is to collaborate with a patient to create a multifaceted management plan for hearing loss, with the goal of maximizing that individual’s active participation in life and minimizing any disruptions to quality of life resulting from the hearing loss. 

Typically, audiologists and speech-language pathologists will collaborate together to coordinate these hearing health services, although other clinicians, such as otologists or psychologists, might also be involved in creating a comprehensive treatment plan. The family and friends of an individual experiencing hearing loss are also oftentimes a crucial part of the plan of care, and studies have shown that having this support system can be highly beneficial for patient outcomes.  

Most centrally, as a patient-centered approach, aural rehabilitation invites the patient to directly engage in and lead their plan of care—for example, by setting priorities, pinpointing actionable goals, and choosing specific treatment avenues. 

Aural rehabilitation comprises many different services and therapies. Some of those might include:

  • An audiological evaluation to determine the extent and type of hearing loss
  • A needs assessment to identify the impact of hearing loss on specific spheres of daily life and measure its overall effect on a patient’s physical and emotional well-being 
  • Cognitive and speech-language screenings
  • Psychological supports to promote mental well-being, such as mindfulness training, joining a support group, or working with a licensed mental health professional in an individual capacity 
  • Preventive measures, such as choosing quiet venues for social gatherings  
  • Technological interventions via apps like Constant Therapy and online auditory training programs like LACE and Angel Sound 
  • Hearing devices, such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, and assistive listening systems
  • One-on-one coaching with an auditory training specialist, who will work with you at your pace to make progress toward defined goals

Does aural rehabilitation work?

Naturally, one of the most important factors when deciding on a course of treatment is its efficacy. In fact, aural rehabilitation is an effective intervention on multiple fronts. Namely, it has been shown to help smooth the transition toward living with hearing loss, enhance patient use of hearing devices and tactics, and improve self-reported hearing quality and quality of life. 

What does recent research show about Constant Therapy and aural rehabilitation?

A recent study from St. Louis University, published in the ASHA Leader in February 2022, sought to “address disparities in the domains of hearing health and cognitive health experienced by African American elders in early stages of cognitive-communicative decline.” The research team, including Dr. Whitney Anne Postman, Maureen Fischer, Kellie Dalton, Kailin Leisure, Samantha Thompson, Laura Sankey, and Hailey Watkins, did so by creating a program that combined cognitive stimulation therapy (CST) to treat mild-to-moderate dementia with audiology services and education to target hearing loss, which is a common comorbidity in the studied age cohort.

Researchers incorporated Constant Therapy into one participant’s program, hypothesizing that its range of evidence-based language exercises would aid in aural rehabilitation. The patient used hearing aids and headphones to complete a range of tasks related to auditory comprehension, verbal auditory memory, and phonological processing within the Constant Therapy app. The results of the case study’s use of Constant Therapy for aural rehabilitation were highly encouraging. Specifically, the patient exhibited substantial progress after performing the selected Constant Therapy tasks for a range of several months to years, as measured by a stark improvement from baseline to endpoint scores. Notably, even the patient’s auditory recall percentage roughly doubled after using the app, and the patient self-reported experiencing benefits from this protocol. With respect to using Constant Therapy, the patient wrote the following in a self-report: “Everything was just so clear to me and it was just like I’d be in another world…it would take me away because everything was so clear. And that’s what made me really like it.” 

These promising results demonstrate that Constant Therapy might lead to functional auditory processing improvements in individuals with hearing loss and can be a valuable asset to an aural rehabilitation program. 

How do I know if aural rehabilitation might be helpful?

Most fundamentally, the time to further explore aural rehabilitation as an option is right when you feel that your hearing loss might be impacting your quality of life. If you have already been diagnosed with hearing loss but still find yourself frustrated by how it is impacting your well-being, this might be an option you choose to explore further. 

Conversely, if you’re not sure whether you or your loved one is experiencing hearing loss, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Have I had to ask people to repeat themselves, slow down, or speak more loudly more often lately?
  • Have I been avoiding social events or phone calls because it’s difficult to hear what’s going on?
  • Do other people find the volume of my music or television too loud even though it’s a comfortable level for me? 
  • Does everything sound a bit muffled? 

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, consider reaching out to your clinician to investigate possible hearing loss and the role that aural rehabilitation can play in your journey. 

How can I incorporate Constant Therapy into my hearing health regimen?

If you think that Constant Therapy might be beneficial for you or a loved one who is living with hearing loss, don’t hesitate to try our free, two-week trial so that you can see the results for yourself. Hearing loss doesn’t have to limit your life, and with the right interventions, such as aural rehabilitation, you can lead a full and active life. 

For more information, check out the following resources:

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