Audiology Convention ASHA held the second annual Audiology Convention at ASHA last month in Atlanta, providing a diverse range of seminars and poster sessions on the hottest topics in audiology today—from cochlear dead regions, to auditory processing, to technological advances. The Convention attracted more than 720 audiologists and hearing scientists. Tricia Sawyer, ... ASHA Convention Coverage
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ASHA Convention Coverage  |   December 01, 2002
Audiology Convention
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  • Tricia Sawyer, is an audiology graduate student at the University of Maryland-College Park. Contact her by e-mail at triley6376@aol.com
    Tricia Sawyer, is an audiology graduate student at the University of Maryland-College Park. Contact her by e-mail at triley6376@aol.com×
Article Information
Hearing Disorders / Hearing Aids, Cochlear Implants & Assistive Technology / ASHA Convention Coverage
ASHA Convention Coverage   |   December 01, 2002
Audiology Convention
The ASHA Leader, December 2002, Vol. 7, 6. doi:10.1044/leader.ACC2.07232002.6
The ASHA Leader, December 2002, Vol. 7, 6. doi:10.1044/leader.ACC2.07232002.6
ASHA held the second annual Audiology Convention at ASHA last month in Atlanta, providing a diverse range of seminars and poster sessions on the hottest topics in audiology today—from cochlear dead regions, to auditory processing, to technological advances.
The Convention attracted more than 720 audiologists and hearing scientists. Tricia Sawyer, an audiology graduate student at the University of Maryland, wrote her reflections on the Audiology Convention at ASHA. As Sawyer completes a thesis on cochlear nonlinearities and launches her career through a clinical fellowship at a private practice in Rockville, MD, she is already the veteran of three ASHA Conventions.
My third ASHA Convention began on Thursday afternoon as I scouted the exhibit hall looking for any new developments in hearing aids or diagnostic equipment. I received a short tutorial on some of the new measurements that can be made with the probe microphone equipment at our office. I also got advice on how to improve a recent hearing aid fitting at the manufacturer’s booth. Friday and Saturday were filled with sessions that related to clinical and research interests, including hearing aids, tinnitus, cochlear dead regions, and the cochlear efferent system.
Audiology and Communications Technology
Harry Levitt, professor emeritus from the City University of New York, presented Friday’s keynote address on “Audiology and Communications Technology: A Symbiotic Relationship.” Levitt traced the technological breakthroughs over the years that have advanced the field of audiology. Early inventions, such as electric and electronic amplifiers, made it possible to create the first hearing aids and audiometers. Development of miniature tubes, transistors, and integrated circuits allowed hearing aids to progress from tabletop models, to body aids, to BTEs, and eventually ITEs. Miniaturization of digital technology and development of low-power digital chips lead to wearable digital hearing aids.
Although audiology often has been the beneficiary of advances in communications technology, the relationship has not always gone one way. Advances in audiology also have propelled technological developments that have widespread applications. Alexander Graham Bell developed the telephone while working on a speech training aid for the deaf. The military made use of amplifiers developed for hearing aids in submarine warfare. The small digital chips that were developed for hearing aids are now being used in other devices such as cell phones and pagers. Levitt pointed out that this symbiotic relationship will only continue as technology advances. He encouraged participants to watch for breakthroughs in the fields of digital wireless technology and nanotechnology.
Later that day, Levitt presented a session on “Have Digital Hearing Aids Lived Up to Their Promise?” as he discussed predictions that he made about the future of digital hearings aids at the 1982 ASHA Convention. Levitt found that some of his predictions were reasonable—current digital hearing aids are programmable; have multiple memories, greater precision, and improved control of signal levels; and are able to perform logical operations, such as reducing background noise.
Other predictions may become reality in the near future. He indicated that digital hearing aids might soon have the ability to self-monitor, control acoustic feedback, have improved noise reduction, and be able to adjust adaptively to the environment. However, there was one “off-the-wall” prediction: that digital hearing aids would be less expensive than their analog counterparts. Levitt assumed that hearing aids would be updated with new software. But this is not the case due to the constant improvements in the digital chips. He presented the advantages of digital aids and how they’ve changed the way we think about hearing aids—as software instead of just hardware.
Otitis Media
In Saturday’s keynote address, David J. Lim addressed the leading cause of pediatric hearing loss in “Otitis Media: Unanswered Questions and Future Directions.” Lim noted that otitis media is the most common childhood infectious disease, resulting in 24.5 million physician visits and costing the United States $5.4 billion annually.
Research is focused on better understanding the mechanisms that protect some children from recurrent otitis media as well as the breakdowns in those defenses, which leave other children vulnerable. This is particularly important as the pathogens responsible are developing a resistance to the antibiotics that are currently used to treat the infection. In the future, Lim hopes that this research will lead to the ability to identify which children will be at risk for infection and to the development of a vaccine to protect them from infection.
Hearing Aid Fitting
Gus Mueller presented on Saturday afternoon as part of a panel discussion on “New Developments in Probe Microphone and Hearing Aid Test Box Technology.” Mueller emphasized the need for audiologists to verify fittings using probe microphone measurements. Since the programming software provides an accurate initial fitting only about two-thirds of the time, it is important to know when the first fit is inaccurate and to do something about it. Mueller stressed that not only are probe microphone measurements the best way to judge if targets for output and gain are being met, but they are also the best way to determine if the special features of the hearing aid—such as directional microphones, noise reduction, and feedback cancellation—are working correctly. In addition, probe microphone measurements are the best way to resolve patient complaints.
These are highlights from just a few of the sessions that I attended at the 2002 ASHA Convention, and, of course, there were many other sessions that I did not have time to attend. I am already looking forward to the 2003 Convention in Chicago.
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December 2002
Volume 7, Issue 23