KidsAudiologist

Archive for the ‘hearing protection’ Category

Yesterday I attended the launch of the new National Commissioning Framework for Hearing Loss Services.

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 07.28.16

This is a document was developed by members of the Hearing And Deafness Alliance (a group of representatives from professional organisations, charity sector and patient groups) with NHS England and follows the launch of the Government’s cross-sector and cross-departmental Action Plan on Hearing Loss last year.

The new framework is aimed at supporting NHS commissioners in ensuring they understand the importance of services for people with hearing loss and the potential impact of un-managed hearing and communication difficulties. The document clearly indicates that it covers the whole age range from birth onwards but understandably given the much larger numbers involved, does have some emphasis on age-related hearing loss. But section 3.1 does make it clear that CCGs should be familiar with their commissioning responsibilities in relation to hearing and wider audiology services and appendix 3 helpfully clarifies the responsibilities of CCGs, NHS England and PHE in the complex environment of commissioning the various parts of a child’s audiology journey. Finally, section 8 stresses the need to move towards more outcome based commissioning and the crucial role of service specifications in setting out the key requirements for delivery of the service.

I was therefore very pleased be invited onto the Children’s Services Content Group and to lead on developing a model service specification for commissioners on paediatric audiology services along with a series of suggested outcome measures for children plus service performance outcomes, that services and commissioners can use to measure quality of the service. A link to this document is contained within the Framework or can be downloaded here. This is the first time we have had children’s outcomes used as commissioning measures of quality and we look forward to feedback and developing these further.

I’m now looking forward to working with NDCS colleagues to share this suite of documents widely with our networks, including service professionals and commissioners.

 

 

Advertisements
Families who have a child with a mild, moderate or unilateral deafness frequently report that their child’s needs are poorly understood. This is often because the effect of their hearing loss may be more subtle than for those children with a more severe hearing loss. For example a mainstream teacher will find the child can hear them fine when working one-to-one with the child and not appreciate that the they can’t hear voices from further away and when there is background noise. This means that children have very reduced opportunities to benefit from hearing what is going on around them – incidental learning – and are therefore more likely to show delays in speech, language, educational, & social development than their normally hearing peers. Sadly, due to funding and capacity issues, local specialist support resources are often prioritised towards those children with more severe hearing losses so that training and awareness in schools may be low. Parents understanding and advocating for their child’s needs becomes even more important.
In 2010, NDCS was awarded a 2 year grant from the Department for Education under the SEN and Disability “Improving Outcomes” theme. We have been working with parents and professionals, providing specialist information and support on key barriers to achievement and to specific groups with a significant attainment gap. One strand of this work that I’ve been involved with has been to provide new information resources for parents that are available free to download – ‘Mild deafness’ and ‘Unilateral deafness’. This weekend I was involved in developing our first weekend for families of children who have a mild, moderate or unilateral deafness. All the deaf children were between 3 and 7 years old and they and their siblings appeared to have a great time occupied in the children’s activities sesssions. Parents attended sessions sharing their experiences, and heard from a young adult role model who grew up with moderate hearing loss in both ears. They also attended information sessions on audiology, technology, education, and NDCS events and services. 12 families attended and for 10 of them it was the first time they or their children had ever attended an NDCS event. Many had been told or held the perception that their child wasn’t ‘deaf enough’ to access specialist services, Disability Living Allowance, resources that help children develop listening skills, and even NDCS. A few families had shown an interest in learning sign language to help communication at times when their hearing aids couldn’t be used and to mix with other deaf children, but many had been poorly advised including that it would have a negative impact on their child’s spoken language development. This may have been one dimension of why families often hadn’t persued joining local groups and meeting other families with deaf children. Most of the children had never met another child that uses hearing aids and it was a real joy watching them playing together and making new friends ‘like them’ over the weekend. I believe the parents have all gone away feeling more confident that they understand their child’s needs and will be better able to make informed choices on behalf of and with their child.

So if you have a child with a mild, moderate or unilateral deafness remember that “NDCS uses the word ‘deaf’ to refer to all levels of hearing loss” and that all of our current services and events are open to you.

#FollowFriday (or #FF) is a way of recommending interesting and/or helpful people on Twitter to your followers. For more information on using #FollowFriday well see @SLPTanya‘s excellent blog. I find Twitter really valuable and struggle to narrow down my recommendations to just a handful each week, risking cluttering up everyone’s timelines! So I’ve had a browse through my favourites and have come up with a list of those Twitter accounts that I most often save tweets from. I’ve also included links to their websites for those readers who aren’t Twitter users.

So for really useful audiology content (in no particular order) here are my #FollowFriday’s:

For wonderful #AudPeeps (audiologists and other professionals interested in hearing care) who are always happy to tweet/chat my #FollowFriday’s are:

Last updated 24th November 2016

Useful resources for families on the ear, hearing and hearing loss in languages other than written English. If you know of others that are publically available to share please comment below.

Cochlear implants

Communicating with deaf children

Ear infection & glue ear

Hearing aids

Hearing tests

Helping your deaf child to learn

Newborn hearing screening

Parenting & families

  • Positive Parenting DVD with options for spoken English, Polish, Urdu, Sylheti, Punjabi and Somali with English subtitles and British Sign Language
  • Parenting a deaf child parenting tips available in Welsh
  • Who am I? DVD with options for spoken English, Polish, Punjabi and Urdu, with English subtitles and British Sign Language
  • All Together DVD with options for spoken English, Urdu, Sylheti and Punjabi, with English subtitles and British Sign Language
Speech and language development

Vision care

In addition to above the New South Wales Multicultural Health Communication Service in Australia hosts a selection of leaflets in other languages, and the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders has a large selection of leaflets on hearing, deafness, tinnitus, speech & language development etc in Spanish.

Last time I wrote about protecting young ears from noise. Today I’m going to look at older children and teenagers.

If anyone regularly takes part in noisy leisure activities I would recommended that they use hearing protection. Excessive exposure to loud noise can cause permanent hearing loss. Teenagers won’t fully appreciate the effects of noise on the ears as permanent damage takes time to show up and often not until well into adulthood. However, one of the early signs of possible damage to the ears from noise is tinnitus – or a ringing in the ears. Most teenagers will have experienced this following a gig or night out at a club for example. Excessive noise exposure is based both on the level of sound (in decibels) as well as the length of time you are exposed to it. So it is possible that longer, lower exposure can do as much damage as shorter, high level exposure. Noise does not have to be uncomfortably loud or painful in order to damage the ears. As a very general and crude rule of thumb, if you need to raise your voice over the noise to have a normal conversation then the noise level could potentially harm the hearing and participants should consider using ear protection for that activity.

Common leisure activites that can result in excessive noise exposure include:

  • headphone/earphone use with MP3 players, iPods, computers, games consoles
  • in-car stereo systems
  • night-clubs
  • gigs
  • go-karting and motorsport
  • motorcycles
  • shooting
  • playing musical instruments/bands

Some MP3 players and iPods come with noise-limiting software that prevents the volume being increased above safe levels. If the player doesn’t come with this software it can sometimes be downloaded after purchase. Try to ensure teenagers take regular breaks from using headphones and encourage them to set the volume of the player in quiet surroundings and avoid turning it up in background noise which can increase the total noise level above safe levels. Good quality noise cancelling headphones are available on the market that help to reduce the effects of background noise and therefore enable the volume to be kept lower. If teenagers are hearing aid wearers it is possible to use special adapters that link the player to the hearing aids directly so that they benefit from the personal amplification programming of the hearing aids. For further information about how this is done contact the NDCS Technology Team for further advice.

Advice to teenagers and adults who regularly attend night-clubs is to avoid dancing directly in front of a speaker and to take regular breaks from the dance floor to a quiet area (perhaps 15-20 minutes every hour). Foam ear plugs, available from most high street chemists are also available. Further information written for teenagers about protection form club noise is available from the ‘don’t lose the music’ campaign or follow @safedecks on Twitter.

For teenagers who are starting to play in bands it’s worth knowing that more and more professional musicians are now using specialist hearing protection. Basic earplugs (such as the yellow foam ones from chemists) do reduce the overall volume of noise but tend to be very poor for listening to music since they reduce different frequencies (pitch) by different amounts and therefore distort it. Several manufacturers now make specialist earplugs for musicians. There is a range of earplugs in different styles and attenuation (degree of noise reduction). The cheaper versions are ‘one size fits all’ and usually have less attenuation. Alternatively you could pay more for ‘custom fit’ which are made to fit each person individually and are a popular choice with people who would wear them for longer periods of time such as professional musicians. Custom fit ear plugs are made from an impression taken of the ear. Your local NHS audiology department may be able to do this for you. Alternatively, you could ask a high street hearing aid audiologist for an appointment. (See your local phone book under ‘hearing aid dispenser’ or ‘hearing aid audiologist’). For examples and further information try hearingprotection.co.uk or Puretonemusic.net

Some useful websites and articles:

House Research Institute’s Earbud for teenagers and teachers

Techlicious.com Blog Save your kid’s hearing with these headphones

The ASHA Leader Youth Hearing at Risk Tools for Fun and Learning

The ASHA Leader  Teens at Risk: Audiologists Respond

Hearing Loss Web Music and Hearing Loss

British Tinnitus Association Information for musicians

Control of noise in the context of teachers of music – practical advice and guidance for schools

My 3 year old niece came home from their local carnival and funfair recently and said that she didn’t like the noise. She’s not a child who is particularly sensitive to noise and doesn’t suffer with hyperacusis so I assume it must have been pretty loud and overwhelming. Lots of kids are lucky to never encounter an audiologist but unfortuantely for her she has one as an aunt, so of course I got straight on the internet and purchased her a pair of ear defenders designed especially for children. I chose her favourite colour (pink) and they were immediately a hit. Here she is at the motor racing last weekend and she was very happy all day there in the noise.

Colour coordinated & ear safe at the racing

If children regularly take part in noisy leisure activities I would recommended that they always use hearing protection as excessive exposure to loud noise can cause permanent hearing loss. We don’t have a lot of information about the effects of noise on babies and young children because noise damage is cumulative (adds up over the years) and doesn’t generally show up until adulthood, but excessive noise exposure is based both on the level of sound (in decibels) as well as the length of time you are exposed to it. So it is possible that longer, lower exposure can do as much damage as shorter, high level exposure. Noise does not have to be uncomfortably loud or painful in order to damage the ears. As a very general and crude rule of thumb, if you need to raise your voice over the noise to have a normal conversation then the noise level could potentially harm the hearing and participants should consider using ear protection for that activity. Based on the knowledge of the long-term effects of noise on adults hearing we should be cautious about children when their hearing is most sensitive. The ear muffs I chose were by Peltor and are suitable for babies and young children. Apart from my niece they have recently been seen in the press worn by Apple Martin, daughter of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, on the babies of the Spice Girl’s during their reunion tour, and on Danni Minogue’s son Ethan on the X-Factor. Peltor Kid Ear Defenders can be purchased from a number of websites.

Apple Martin with mum Gwenyth Paltrow at Live 8

It’s also worth thinking about children’s toys, some of which have been shown to have very high volumes and remember that children will tend to hold toys very close to their ears. Have a look at the Sight & Hearing Association’s 2010 Noisy Toys List for an idea of the types of toys I’m talking about. Try to limit use of noisy toys and try to prevent young children holding them close to their ears.

As children get older start to think about their use of headphones for listening to music, computers etc. Some MP3 and iPod players come with noise-limiting software that prevents the volume being increased above safe levels. If the player doesn’t come with this software it can sometimes be downloaded after purchase. Try to ensure that children take regular breaks from using headphones. Set the volume of the player in quiet surroundings and avoid turning it up in background noise which can increase the total noise level above safe levels. Good quality noise cancelling headphones are available on the market that help to reduce the effects of background noise and therefore enable the volume to be kept lower. If children use hearing aids it is possible to use special adapters that link the player to the hearing aids directly so that they benefit from the personal amplification programming of the hearing aids. For further information about how this is done contact the NDCS Technology Team for further advice.

Some useful Websites:

Listen To Your Buds Making Kids Safe in Sound

It’s A Noisy Planet Protect their hearing

Noise Help Child-friendly hearing protection options

Made for Mums Heading to a festival with your baby

Next time – Protecting teenage ears from noise


Twitter Updates

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 42 other followers

Blog Stats

  • 69,537 hits