According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), approximately one in three people between ages 65 and 75 experiences hearing loss. For those over 75, the statistic is closer to one in two. The term for age-related is presbycusis, which is caused by natural wear and tear of the auditory system.
The process of hearing occurs not just in the ears, but in the brain as well. The ears channel soundwaves and convert them to vibrations, which are transmitted to the brain via the auditory nerve for interpretation.
According to a recent study by the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, senior patients were able to improve speech recognition by exercising their brains with computerized games.
Throughout the study, elderly patients with hearing loss used a closed-loop (CL) computer audio game that had them listen for subtle changes in sound to solve puzzles. At the end of the eight weeks, those in the CL group correctly identified 25 percent more words in background noise than those in the control group, whose video game did not include sound cues for the puzzles.
This is significant in the hearing industry as it may change the way audiologists work with their patients. There are a number of brain training programs already on the market that some specialists have implemented in their patient care, including Listening and Communication Enhancement (LACE), clEARWorks4EARs and Angel Sound.