Audiology Makes Rapid Advances in Poland Over the past 15 years, dramatic developments have occurred in the field of audiology in Poland. Three major factors have influenced the ongoing changes: development of new programs for treatment and prevention of hearing loss, a substantial improvement of qualifications of audiologists and related specialists, and the rapidly growing availability ... World Beat
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World Beat  |   February 01, 2008
Audiology Makes Rapid Advances in Poland
Author Notes
  • Lech Sliwa, is an assistant professor at the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing in Warsaw, Poland. Sliwa specializes in biomedical engineering and his professional interests focus on objective testing of hearing. He is also involved in developing and conducting educational programs on audiology in Poland. Contact him at l.sliwa@ifps.org.pl.
    Lech Sliwa, is an assistant professor at the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing in Warsaw, Poland. Sliwa specializes in biomedical engineering and his professional interests focus on objective testing of hearing. He is also involved in developing and conducting educational programs on audiology in Poland. Contact him at l.sliwa@ifps.org.pl.×
  • Krzysztof Kochanek, is an associate professor, research director, and chair of audiology at the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing in Warsaw, Poland. His research focuses on electrophysiological methods of hearing testing and on developing new systems to perform electrophysiological tests and hearing screening. Contact him at k.kochanek@ifps.org.pl.
    Krzysztof Kochanek, is an associate professor, research director, and chair of audiology at the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing in Warsaw, Poland. His research focuses on electrophysiological methods of hearing testing and on developing new systems to perform electrophysiological tests and hearing screening. Contact him at k.kochanek@ifps.org.pl.×
  • John D Durrant, is an audiologist and professor and vice chair of communication science and disorders at the University of Pittsburgh. His international work has included a professorship in a medical physiology department (audiology service) for several years in Lyon, France, and a collaboration since 2003 with the International Center for Hearing and Speech in Poland. Contact him at durrant@pitt.edu.
    John D Durrant, is an audiologist and professor and vice chair of communication science and disorders at the University of Pittsburgh. His international work has included a professorship in a medical physiology department (audiology service) for several years in Lyon, France, and a collaboration since 2003 with the International Center for Hearing and Speech in Poland. Contact him at durrant@pitt.edu.×
  • Jacek Smurzynski, an associate professor at the Department of Communicative Disorders at East Tennessee State University (Johnson City). His research focuses on evaluation of inner ear function in normally hearing and hearing-impaired subjects, binaural auditory perception, newborn hearing screening, and temporal auditory processing. Contact him at smurzyns@etsu.edu.
    Jacek Smurzynski, an associate professor at the Department of Communicative Disorders at East Tennessee State University (Johnson City). His research focuses on evaluation of inner ear function in normally hearing and hearing-impaired subjects, binaural auditory perception, newborn hearing screening, and temporal auditory processing. Contact him at smurzyns@etsu.edu.×
Article Information
Hearing Disorders / International & Global / World Beat
World Beat   |   February 01, 2008
Audiology Makes Rapid Advances in Poland
The ASHA Leader, February 2008, Vol. 13, 28-30. doi:10.1044/leader.WB1.13022008.28
The ASHA Leader, February 2008, Vol. 13, 28-30. doi:10.1044/leader.WB1.13022008.28
Over the past 15 years, dramatic developments have occurred in the field of audiology in Poland. Three major factors have influenced the ongoing changes: development of new programs for treatment and prevention of hearing loss, a substantial improvement of qualifications of audiologists and related specialists, and the rapidly growing availability of advanced technology and treatment methods. These developments are now being accelerated by a dramatic growth in research and development in hearing science and clinical audiology in Poland.
Two clinical advances that have influenced audiology in Poland—and that were previously unavailable there and throughout most of Eastern Europe—are programs for auditory implants and universal hearing screening in newborns and infants. Six clinical centers in Poland perform cochlear implant surgeries, serving more than 500 patients each year. The development of cochlear implants and middle-ear brainstem implants has provided the impetus for further advancement of audiology in Poland, and in turn has led to more refined methods of early detection of hearing loss, much as in the United States and other countries.
Two Leading Centers
Poland’s leading implant center is the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing in Warsaw. In addition, to establish effective programs for auditory implants and to enhance clinical, teaching, and research programs, a new facility—the International Center of Hearing and Speech—opened its doors in 2003. This ultramodern facility provides comprehensive services in both otolaryngology and communication sciences and disorders (CSD), including voice, speech-language, and hearing services. Nearly 400 patients have received auditory implants each year for the past three years, making the Center among the world’s largest cochlear implant facilities. Collaboration between the Center’s professionals and faculty of Warsaw-area universities on research and development projects promises to deliver further expansion of cochlear implant use in Poland.
One focus for the center is the treatment of patients with sudden high-frequency hearing losses (see Gifford & Shallop, 2007; Skarzynski et al., 2006). This population has considerable residual low-frequency hearing, yet patients do not gain significant benefits from traditional amplification. Results show considerable promise and this area is receiving much attention (Gifford & Shallop, 2007).
In the area of audiological diagnostics, rapid advancements have been made in the development of improved test methods, particularly in clinical electrophysiology (such as tests of the auditory brain-stem response). More than 150 audiological centers now routinely provide such special tests, an increase of more than tenfold in recent years. These methods have improved the differential diagnoses of auditory disorders and the scope and quality of hearing testing in children in Poland.
Each year, the Institute organizes courses for ear, nose, and throat surgeons interested in new techniques of ear microsurgery, with particular attention to the methods of minimally invasive cochlear implant surgery developed by Henryk Skarzynski, founder and director of both the Institute and the Center. The Center’s researchers conduct a wide range of innovative projects; in addition, the facility offers annual educational programs, as well as conferences focusing on areas of CSD such as telemedicine, which uses tele-media technology to exchange information, carry out research, and/or facilitate training in health and rehabilitation sciences. In fall 2006, the Institute also hosted the first national meeting of speech-language pathologists, audiologists, and physicians dedicated to these areas.
Through the Institute and the Center, audiologists in Poland have had opportunities for collaboration with leading audiological centers in Europe, Asia, and the United States. Annual conferences and workshops organized by the two facilities have attracted the participation of well-known researchers and clinicians from around the world, including prominent ASHA members.
Hearing Screening for Newborns and Children
The first comprehensive program of newborn screening—including both intensive-care and well babies—was launched in 1993 by an Institute team. Over the past four years the universal newborn screening effort has become nationwide, with the support of the Foundation of the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity. The program, which includes 440 hospitals and newborn nurseries, now screens approximately 98% of newborns in Poland, and uses distortion product otoacoustic emissions as a first-tier test. Program results are comparable to those obtained in Western Europe and the United States, and the program’s broad success places Poland among the leaders in implementing universal newborn hearing screening.
The nation’s other hearing screening programs cover school-age children. Screening and more comprehensive diagnostic audiometric tests, including tests for auditory processessing disorders, are performed using a device based on a hand-held computer that was developed as a cooperative project of several groups in Poland. In the coming months, this hearing screening program will be implemented with a population of more than 120,000 children in rural areas of eastern Poland and will provide diagnostic results that indicate the need for audiological and/or medical intervention for these children.
Increasing the level of professional audiological education has been another focus in Poland in recent years. Until 2005, the education system was based upon the European model, in which otolaryngologists are trained to expand their knowledge in the area of audiology. But three years ago, with the recognition of the growing importance of audiology and speech-language rehabilitation, the specialties of audiology and phoniatry were integrated, although still rooted in medicine. New graduate programs have been introduced, however, at liberal arts and other universities, along with existing undergraduate programs that train hearing-aid specialists. Technical colleges also started offering such programs to meet the strong demand for graduates in this area. The academic community in Poland is also debating whether to develop a training model closer to that of the United States, with multidisciplinary university studies that could include medicine, bioengineering, and the behavioral sciences.
Efforts also are underway to expand continuing education options and to broaden and standardize qualifications of medical audiologists and audiological specialists. Several periodic courses, extramural postgraduate studies, and various forms of distance learning have been developed.
Scientific and professional societies are contributing to the current expansion of audiology in Poland, including associations for professionals in medicine and related disciplines, which publish scientific papers and educational materials. The oldest and the most reputable association is the Polish Society of Otorhinolaryngologists and Head and Neck Surgeons, established more than 80 years ago. This group’s audiology and phoniatry sections now comprise more than 400 members, and together these sections organize workshops and congresses and sponsor educational activities. Others organizations include the Polish Committee of Audiophonology, formed in 1992; the Polish Scientific Society of Hearing, Voice, and Voice Communication Impairments, established in 1996; and the Polish Society of Audiology and Phoniatry.
Many specialties meet the needs of people with hearing loss in Poland. Physicians specializing in audiology and phoniatry are responsible for diagnosis and treatment. They are complemented by speech-language pathologists, hearing-aid specialists, and biomedical engineers. Leaders in CSD have made a concerted effort to ensure that the quality of care in audiology in Poland matches that of other developed countries, with a world-class center for the diagnosis and treatment of hearing and speech disorders and cutting-edge technology in its cochlear implant centers. These advances have set the stage for further growth and development, and as progress continues, audiologists in Poland welcome collaboration with their peers in the United States and elsewhere.
References
Gifford, R. H., & Shallop, J. K. (2007, Oct. 16). Hearing preservation in patients with a cochlear implant. The ASHA Leader, 12(14), 15, 17, 34.
Gifford, R. H., & Shallop, J. K. (2007, Oct. 16). Hearing preservation in patients with a cochlear implant. The ASHA Leader, 12(14), 15, 17, 34.×
Skarzynski, H., Lorens, A., Piotrowska, A., & Anderson, I. (2006). Partial deafness cochear implantation provides benefit to a new population of individuals with hearing loss. Acta Oto-Laryngologica, 126, 934–940. [Article] [PubMed]
Skarzynski, H., Lorens, A., Piotrowska, A., & Anderson, I. (2006). Partial deafness cochear implantation provides benefit to a new population of individuals with hearing loss. Acta Oto-Laryngologica, 126, 934–940. [Article] [PubMed]×
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February 2008
Volume 13, Issue 2