The purpose of aural rehabilitation, sometimes referred to as aural rehab or A.R., is to optimize a person’s ability to participate in activities that are affected by hearing loss. Hearing health care professionals use a wide set of practices to achieve this goal, which begins with a thorough audiologic evaluation and includes prescribing a medical device such as a traditional hearing aid, bone-anchored hearing aid (BAHA) or cochlear implant (CI).
While hearing aids and other devices can make a huge difference in communication ability, they don’t always provide optimum results in every setting. This is why one step in the aural rehabilitation process is a needs assessment. This helps the affected person identify specific listening situations that have been impacted by hearing loss in a way that affects their quality of life. Most often, these situations involve excessive background noise, require close focus, are stressful or cause listening fatigue.
The hearing professional and person with hearing loss then work together to set goals, identify target outcomes and develop solutions. Once this step is complete, the person with hearing loss can then begin to tackle obstacles by trying different possible solutions in their challenging environments with the help and support of their audiologist. Some strategies include using assistive listening devices, trying communication strategies, undergoing auditory training sessions, employing relaxation techniques and attending peer support groups.
Assistive Listening Devices
Assistive listening devices can be used in conjunction with hearing aids, BAHAs or CIs. These include personal amplifiers, FM systems, infrared systems, inductions loop systems, amplified/captioned telephones, alerting devices and Bluetooth devices.
An audiologist can also provide communication strategies that people with hearing loss and their family members can employ for better communication. For example, eliminating background noise, facing each other while talking, taking time to listen without interrupting, getting one another’s attention before speaking and writing down key information can all be helpful.
Auditory training includes working with a professional, such as an auditory training specialist, speech-language pathologist or teacher of the deaf. These professionals are specially trained to help with various aspects of verbal communication.
Relaxation techniques are valuable for preventing listening fatigue. Try yoga, meditation, regular exercise, and mindfulness breathing exercises to help stay relaxed.
Peer Support Groups
The truth is, no matter how much your loved ones care and empathize with you, unless they’ve shared your experience, they likely don’t fully understand what challenges you face. Peer support groups are invaluable tool for anyone who feels that they are isolated in their experience with hearing loss.
For more information about aural rehabilitation or to schedule an appointment with an audiologist, call Pinnacle ENT Associates today.