Rep. Neugebauer Helps With Screening in Texas Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) recently offered free hearing screenings to the public as part of Better Hearing and Speech Month. ASHA members at the center helped organize the May 30 event with Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) who was instrumental in setting up the service. Neugebauer, who also ... Features
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Features  |   July 01, 2006
Rep. Neugebauer Helps With Screening in Texas
Author Notes
  • Dee Naquin Shafer, an assistant managing editor of The ASHA Leader, can be reached at dshafer@asha.org.
    Dee Naquin Shafer, an assistant managing editor of The ASHA Leader, can be reached at dshafer@asha.org.×
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / Hearing Disorders / Special Populations / Early Identification & Intervention / Features
Features   |   July 01, 2006
Rep. Neugebauer Helps With Screening in Texas
The ASHA Leader, July 2006, Vol. 11, 5-29. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR1.11092006.5
The ASHA Leader, July 2006, Vol. 11, 5-29. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR1.11092006.5
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  • Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) visits with students at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center during a hearing screening on May 30. More than 100 people participated in the screening.
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) recently offered free hearing screenings to the public as part of Better Hearing and Speech Month. ASHA members at the center helped organize the May 30 event with Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) who was instrumental in setting up the service. Neugebauer, who also toured the facility and met with audiology experts, took advantage of the screenings and had his hearing tested too.
“Hearing loss is a problem that affects people of all ages, not just the elderly,” he said. Neugebauer has a personal interest in the hearing screenings since he aquired sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL) in his left ear in 2004.
He recalled first noticing changes in his hearing.
“I was sitting in a church service in Lubbock when it felt like my left ear was stopped up. It didn’t clear up and I could tell something different was going on,” he said. Neugebauer had been doing a lot of flying for both personal and public reasons and thought that perhaps he had been exposed to a virus. He consulted with his Sunday school teacher, an ENT, who suggested several options.
“The next day I was driving and put the cell phone up to my left ear instead of the right ear. The audibility was substantially reduced [from the right ear]; the quality of sound was garbled and I realized something had happened to my hearing,” he said.
Neugebauer saw his physician the following day and received the diagnosis. He learned that SSHL can be triggered by many causes, including autoimmune inner ear disease, compromised vascular supply to the inner ear, intracochlear membrane breaks, neurologic and neoplastic lesions, traumatic insults, and viral infections. In some cases, the hearing returns.
His treatment involved several rounds of medication to fight infection and steroids to reduce swelling. Afterward, tests showed a 50% hearing loss in the left ear, he said. Neugebauer was fitted with a hearing aid after trying several different models.
He has worked with several audiologists, including one at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, DC, who focused on audiologic rehabilitation. Neugebauer said he is learning to adapt to different hearing environments. It is a matter of teaching his brain to recognize the way sounds now are translated differently from the left ear and combining them with the sounds that are processed in a non-damaged way from the right ear.
“I have become more aware of how precious hearing is,” Neugebauer said, noting that his behavior in his youth had contributed to high-frequency hearing loss. “I used to take a transistor radio, stick in the earplug, and crank that baby up. I think of things I should have done-and that others should do-like wearing hearing protection while mowing the yard or shooting guns.”
It was a revelation to realize that hearing loss is not only an adult problem, Neugebauer said, adding, “I was shocked one of the first times I went into an audiologist’s office and saw so many children.”
During the May 30 visit, Neugebauer met with faculty of the Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences Department where discussions included the national shortage of doctoral faculty in speech-language pathology and audiology, direct access to audiological care, the need for better insurance reimbursement, and the role that speech-language pathologists and audiologists play in supporting literacy.
Neugebauer represents the 19th District of Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives. Currently in his second term, he took office on June 5, 2003. He would like to see action on H.R. 414 and S. 1060, which could help families to pay for hearing aids. Neugebauer also cited H.R. 415, which could provide direct access to audiologists. (For more information about this legislation, visit ASHA’s Legislation & Advocacy Web page).
“We want to help families so that people don’t have to go through a maze to take care of their hearing,” he said. “It is important that children and adults educate themselves about the dangers that can lead to hearing loss and that they get routine screenings to increase the chance of early detection.”
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July 2006
Volume 11, Issue 9