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New research suggests cochlear implants will unlock tinnitus

Tinnitus is a chronic and debilitating health issue affecting 1 in 7 older New Zealanders with an estimated cost to NZ of $7.5 billion in lost productivity, health and welfare costs. Often described as ‘ringing in the ears’ where people hear ringing, buzzing, hissing, whistling or humming when there is no external sound...the phantom limb of hearing. When tinnitus is persistent and severe, it can significantly impact an individual’s sleep, concentration, stress levels and mental health.

Associate Professor Grant Searchfield, clinical director of the University of Auckland’s Hearing and Tinnitus Clinic, scientific director of Tinnitus Tunes, and deputy director of the Eisdell Moore Centre for hearing and balance research, has recently been working with a multinational group of scientists exploring the origins of tinnitus using cochlear implants, in addition to working with engineers at the Human Augmented reality lab at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute to develop new sound based therapies for tinnitus.

Grant says, “Tinnitus is a highly prevalent condition, most of us may experience it occasionally, but in severe cases it can have catastrophic effects on quality of life. Cochlear implants are an excellent solution for hearing loss, but they can also be used in research to unlock some of the secrets of the brain.

“This recent research has considered the role of cochlear implants in tinnitus therapy and its showing promising evidence for a new model of tinnitus based on cochlear implant research. Cochlear implants are an effective treatment option for those with not only a severe hearing loss, but chronic tinnitus, this research is beginning to show why. I’ll be presenting the findings at the upcoming Pindrop Foundation Cochlear Implant Forum on Saturday 2nd November at the University of Auckland.”

Lee Schouskoff, CEO of The Pindrop Foundation says, “The digital revolution has changed the lives for many adults affected by severe to profound hearing loss with the advancement of cochlear implant technology. We are excited to hear the findings of Grant’s research as it could potentially offer a treatment option for New Zealanders who are suffering from chronic tinnitus in the future. That’s why research is so important.”

The Pindrop Foundation Adult Cochlear Implant Forum agenda will be packed with speakers on hearing health and cochlear implant technology. The Forum is an international gathering that brings together clients, surgeons, audiologists, researchers; funders and associated health professionals from the cochlear implant community.

The gathering is held biennially in New Zealand, with the 3rd forum being hosted at the University of Auckland, Tamaki Campus on Saturday 2nd November 2019. The Pindrop Foundation Adult Cochlear Implant Forum is always a sell-out event—register here: www.pindrop.org.nz

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