As we age, many of us experience difficulties with hearing. This affects us in so many areas of life: Communicating with family, socialising in groups, enjoying music and being able to hear on the phone.
In addition to hearing loss, people who have been exposed to noise or other stresses often develop ringing in the ears, which is called ‘tinnitus.’ Other ear problems include over-sensitivity to sound, ear related dizziness or chronic blocked ear.
Most people will talk to their doctor and maybe an audiologist and may be offered a hearing aid. Hearing aids are beneficial once hearing loss reaches a certain level, but they will not solve all of these problems. When it comes to hearing in a noisy room, where there are many voices competing in the background, a different solution may be needed.
People are often hesitant to try a hearing aid, as they don’t think their hearing is bad enough, or they find that it doesn’t really help in a noisy room.
An even more troubling ear condition is tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and people may be distressed when they are told by their doctors that there is no treatment and it may never go away. It’s hard to believe at first that you are stuck with this noise and it isn’t going to go away. Living with tinnitus can induce stress and sleeplessness, interfere with social connection and cause depression and isolation.
So, what causes this ringing in the ears? It’s all about how the ear is affected by sound vibrations. Two tiny muscles behind the ear drum, the hammer and stirrup muscles, constantly adjust tension on the ear drum. If these muscles become weak or if they are too stiff and tight, they cannot do their job properly. The result is difficulty hearing in a noisy environment, as the ear cannot focus properly.
By activating and exercising the middle ear muscles, Sound Therapy restores their proper function, so the ear receives sound more accurately.
The other part of hearing occurs in the spiral shaped inner ear chamber where thousands of tiny hair-like cells pick up the sound vibrations and send them to the brain. Too much noise can damage these hair-like cells, called cilia. Constant noise exposure from loud music, factory machinery or farm equipment usually results in damage to the cilia. This is known as sensory-neural hearing loss or nerve deafness.
Damage to the cilia can also often result in tinnitus. The brain is not receiving the correct sound vibrations, so it starts to create its own sound, and the result is tinnitus.
A discovery by a French Ear Specialist, Dr Alfred Tomatis, has been developed for the treatment of tinnitus and other hard-to-treat ear problems. Dr Tomatis developed a device which he called the Electronic Ear which helps to restore normal hearing functions. Initially this machine was used to feed back the subject’s voice with some of the sounds altered so that they could hear themselves in the correct way. Later Tomatis found that he could achieve the same result by playing music through the Electronic Ear, specifically the music of Mozart. He found that after regular treatment for a certain period of time, the effects would last.
In later years Tomatis trained many different practitioners to use his method and so it became available in about two hundred centres around the world, in addition to his centre in Paris.
A portable version of the therapy was later developed in Canada by Patricia Joudry and was brought to Australia by her daughter, Rafaele Joudry in the late 1980s. Patricia was helped with her problem of hypersensitivity to sound, and the inability to follow a conversation in a noisy room, known as the “Cocktail Party Syndrome”. The treatment also cured her chronic insomnia and exhaustion. Once the program was released to the public, it became clear that in many cases, Sound Therapy brought relief for tinnitus sufferers. The portable, home-based system can be used longer term without inconvenience. Because of this, its benefits for various hearing problems have become apparent.
The complex but gentle, high frequency (high pitched) sounds of Sound Therapy re-activate the pathways between the ear and brain and can improve the way we hear as well as reducing tinnitus.
The audiologist, Dr George Richards, attributes the success of Sound Therapy to its stimulation of the ‘motor’ auditory pathways. The motor pathways are where the brain tells the muscles what to do. The action of Sound Therapy, via these pathways, enables the brain to re-train the ear muscles to proper function. A true feedback system must have a continuous flow of information that provides maximum tone to the muscles. This steady stimulus, to the middle ear muscles in turn tunes up the entire auditory system. The ear is then able to be a receiver for the stimulating and complex high tone sounds that help to rebuild the brain.
It is now common knowledge that the brain is “plastic” meaning it is continually able to grow and build new connections at any time of life. This means that we always have an opportunity to build new brain pathways. The key is that the brain must receive the right stimulation. The effect of the right stimulation can be to connect different parts of the brain and to build more efficient pathways for information flow.
The right and left hemispheres of the brain are quite separate, joined only by a web of neural connections known as the corpus callosum.
Because different functions occur in each hemisphere, for example speech in the left hemisphere, spatial judgement in the right, we need good connections between the two to perform well in all areas. Sound Therapy enhances the connections from right to left, increasing the efficiency of the whole brain. Therefore, listeners often develop new aptitudes in language, coordination or other areas.
Kelvin Plemming, a former panel beater who suffered from tinnitus for forty-five years before he found Sound Therapy said: “Now every day it’s like I’m being reborn!”
To receive a free DVD info pack on the portable Sound Therapy system visit this link. www.mysoundtherapy.com/au or call the national enquiry line for Sound Therapy on 1300 55 77 96.
This is sponsored content brought to you in conjunction with Sound Therapy.