Audiology is the science of hearing and balance disorders. Audiologists are healthcare professionals who provide care in the prevention, identification, diagnosis, and treatment of hearing, balance and other auditory disorders for people of all ages. Audiologists provide services to minimize the negative impact of these disorders, leading to improved outcomes and quality of life.
The Audiology Clinic at ENMU provides a full range of hearing tests and rehabilitation services including hearing aids and other hearing-assistance technology. An audiology evaluation involves several different tests to determine the type and severity of hearing loss. Based on a battery of test results, a plan of treatment is made.
Treatment may involve the selection and fitting of hearing aids or other type of hearing-assistance technology. Hearing tests are conducted using an audiometer. The patient signals when a tone is heard, and the lowest level at which the patient hears is noted on an audiogram, or a print-out of hearing test results. The new audiometer is computerized and stores patient files in an electronic database, while previous equipment required hand-written results. The electronic file format makes it easy to compare previous test results. The new audiometer also offers several more sophisticated test options that were previously unavailable.
In addition to the new audiometer, a video otoscope, three video screens, a tympanometer and OAE system were purchased.
Tympanometry is used to evaluate the condition of the middle ear system. The Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) device is used to analyze the cochlea, the sense organ of hearing. Video otoscopy allows the audiologist and patient to see inside the ear using a computer screen. A photo of the ear is stored in the patient’s electronic file along with the other test results. The video screens are used to condition young children by rewarding their responses to sound with digital cartoon clips. This allows for hearing tests to be administered to young children who might not otherwise respond to traditional testing methods. This battery of test results is used to identify and diagnosis hearing loss.
According to Dr. Rachel Lingnau, assistant professor of audiology, “With the old equipment, results were recorded with pen and paper and stored in a file. Now, all the results are recorded digitally using the Otosuite software. Test results are combined and we now have the ability to neatly print the results in one professional looking report. Previous test results are instantly accessible which helps compare a patient’s results from previous tests.”
Now that the audiology equipment is up to date, the ENMU Speech and Hearing Clinic was awarded contracts with three different agencies to provide hearing services for veterans and military personnel. BNSF Railroad also refers their employees for annual hearing checkups.
The Audiology Clinic is open to the public. The fee for a diagnostic hearing evaluation is $50 (health insurance is not accepted). Sliding scales are available for those who qualify.