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19.06.2015

Ucl tinnitus research, tinnitus cause deafness - How to DIY

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The British Tinnitus Association (BTA) is a world leader, with a trained team of friendly and experienced advisers for anyone who experiences tinnitus or those simply seeking guidance or information about the condition. Although that first job was entirely research, we also saw patients who would come into the clinic associated with the lab to be fitted for hearing aids. During that time (over 30 years ago) we did some experiments where we presented background noise and were able to mask patients’ tinnitus.
I didn’t officially start seeing tinnitus patients until three years later at the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Iowa where I pursued research on cochlear implants and also on tinnitus. I recall at the time talking with our otolaryngology fellow about attending a conference on the clinical treatment of tinnitus; a conference dedicated to learning how to help patients. In 2002, Jane Henry and Peter Wilson wrote two of the best books ever in my opinion on treating tinnitus patients. Since those early years, I’ve focused on making sure the conference represents the multi-disciplinary approach necessary for treating tinnitus patients.
I do believe within five years - maybe less - there will be a cochlear implant specifically designed for tinnitus. This year, our guest of honour – Josef Rauschecker, a neuroscientist from Georgetown University, is going to discuss work he has done on tinnitus and the brain.
My first job after graduation was in England at the Institute of Hearing Research where I worked with Ross Coles, an audiological physician.


The benefit of this was that we were able to bring patients in for tinnitus-related projects and I began to understand how upset many of them were about their tinnitus and how little interest in the medical and audiological field there was to help these people. We learned that sometimes we could make the tinnitus disappear after the masker was turned off.
Richard Hallam, a psychologist working in London, published some work in 1984 and wrote a book on tinnitus based on his experience.
In my opinion, this has the potential to open up new areas for research into tinnitus treatments. He recently gave an interview with the American Tinnitus Association (ATA) to discuss his involvement over the years with tinnitus and also how the conference began and how it’s evolved as the science of tinnitus treatments have progressed. He was a leader in audiology research and had recently completed a study on tinnitus sound therapy.
He had developed a therapy based on the patient’s failure to habituate to their tinnitus. This exposure is unique and needed for audiologists and otologists to learn more about helping their tinnitus patients.
The biggest similarity that I see is that it’s still the case that a lot of health care professionals including otologists, audiologists and psychologists who are not well trained in how to help tinnitus patients which is why we still get a lot of people coming to the conference every year. I recall one patient who said that it was the first time he had not heard his tinnitus in seven years.


Dennis McFadden, did work for the Institute of Medicine around that same time summarising the problem of tinnitus and what we knew about it and what we didn’t know about it. He proposed a tinnitus habituation model, and emphasised the neurophysiological involvement of the brain in problematic tinnitus. Some return to the conference, to enhance their knowledge and share with their peers, or to simply learn about what’s new in the world of treating tinnitus.
This model led to a focus on practical approaches to help people with problematic tinnitus. Increasingly, we also have companies attend who are interested in doing clinical trials but want to hear from clinical audiologists and clinical researchers and their thoughts on the most appropriate ways of running clinical trials.
Eventually, as people became increasingly interested in treating tinnitus and through word of mouth, it grew.
We also have about three to six tinnitus patients attend each year and I think they get a lot of out listening to the professionals learn, discuss and debate tinnitus treatment and research.



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