Ears only a small part of our hear­ing

Townsville Bulletin - - LIFESTYLE -

Q.

What are the ba­sic roles of an au­di­ol­o­gist?

What many peo­ple don’t re­alise is that an au­di­ol­o­gist has to de­tect a very large range of dif­fer­ent sites of pathol­ogy for the fol­low­ing rea­sons. Be­sides the brain, the ear is prob­a­bly the most com­pli­cated or­gan in the body.

Also, the ear is only a small por­tion of what is nec­es­sary to hear. The ear cap­tures the sound but what hap­pens to that sound once it is cap­tured is a very com­pli­cated process which in­volves many dif­fer­ent ar­eas of the brain. The hear­ing por­tion of the in­ner ear is also the small­est part. Most of it is made up of ar­eas re­spon­si­ble for bal­ance and po­si­tion­ing the body and head in space.

There­fore, the job of an au­di­ol­o­gist starts with firstly de­tect­ing the hear­ing site of le­sion across all age groups, from new­borns to adults. This alone is made up of dozens of dif­fer­ent tests depend­ing on whether you are mea­sur­ing the brain’s re­sponse to sounds, to ba­sic beep tests. Once we have a ba­sic idea of what pitched sounds can be heard and where the prob­lem may lie, we then have to as­cer­tain whether that hear­ing can ad­e­quately dis­cern the sounds of hu­man speech.

This is where we have to start tap­ping into how well the brain puts to­gether the sounds to de­tect and recog­nise speech. We can then mea­sure how ef­fi­cient the brain is pro­cess­ing words in a sen­tence form, both on its own and when other dis­tract­ing back­ground noise is present.

Our job doesn’t just stop there – be­cause the bal­ance or­gan is at­tached to the in­ner ear, it is also the au­di­ol­o­gist’s role to de­tect patholo­gies con­cern­ing bal­ance and episodes of ver­tigo.

There are six ba­sic ar­eas of the bal­ance sys­tem, each re­spon­si­ble for pro­cess­ing de­tec­tion of move­ment in all di­rec­tions and both bal­ance or­gans are con­stantly talk­ing to each other. Bal­ance is­sues or ver­tigo is usu­ally caused by dam­age to one of the bal­ance or­gans and the dif­fer­ence in what the bal­ance or­gans are de­tect­ing be­cause of the dam­age to one of them. The au­di­ol­o­gist’s role is to de­ter­mine firstly whether the prob­lem is neu­ro­log­i­cal, or one of the bal­ance or­gans, and if so which par­tic­u­lar or­gan is dam­aged.

A.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.