Hearing loss can have a significant impact on your quality of life. For some people it can impact social interactions, work environment, and even activities that you used to find to be relaxing and enjoyable. The purpose of this blog post is to help you to understand that you are not alone in this journey. Depending on the type and degree of hearing loss you experience, bone anchored hearing systems along with aural rehabilitation, may help you to reduce your listening effort.
Learning to listen
Did you know that we listen with our brains rather than our ears? If you are someone experiencing hearing loss, your brain may not be getting the auditory stimulation it needs to be able to understand and comprehend speech information. Therefore, the first step in learning to listen is to make sure your brain is getting access to the sound it needs. The best way to ensure this is to work with your hearing healthcare professional to determine the type and degree of hearing loss you have and how to best treat it.
Sometimes we need more
Of course, many different factors influence outcomes with your hearing devices. One of those factors could be that your brain needs to re-learn how to listen and understand. Just like your hip might need rehabilitation if you hurt it, your brain may need some listening rehabilitation to reduce listening fatigue and improve overall understanding. We call this aural rehabilitation. You may also hear it referred to as “AR”.
What is aural rehabilitation?
Aural rehabilitation allows individuals experiencing hearing loss to learn how to use their technology and other resources to improve speech understanding, listening effort, and overall communication. According to Arthur Boothroyd, there are four components of aural rehabilitation:
- Sensory management: Treatment of the hearing loss.
- Instruction: Learning how to use your devices to best serve you in many different listening environments.
- Perceptual training: Learning how to listen and process sound through targeted therapy either provided in-person or via virtual platform.
- Counseling: Understanding realistic expectations.
The goal of aural rehabilitation is to improve quality of life by teaching the listener (you) how to reduce listening effort. By reducing listening effort, you can experience improved listening stamina and even improvements in understanding when listening in different environments.
What are some benefits to doing aural rehabilitation?
Let’s face it, we are all busy. We have errands to run, kids to pick up, grandkids to play with, and Netflix® to binge! So, why put in the effort? Aural rehabilitation has been proven to improve listening outcomes from a reduction in the perception of hearing difficulties to an improvement in quality-of-life. Aural rehab can really help you to get the most out of your hearing technology.
When is the best time to start aural rehabilitation?
While research indicates that aural rehabilitation provides the most benefit within the first three months post device fit (Dornhoffer et al, 2021), some form of aural rehabilitation can be beneficial to all individuals with hearing loss at any point during their hearing healthcare journey. The best time to start is now!
There are many ways in which you can pursue the different forms of aural rehabilitation. In addition to in-person therapy sessions, AR includes the use of any assistive technologies or accessories, support from friends and family, as well as training tools to help you to feel more confident no matter the listening environment. Some of these training methods include in-person therapy sessions, online training materials provided by various manufacturers, and even different phone applications that can support your hearing and listening journey. The best way for you to have an experience tailored to your needs is to discuss these therapy options with your hearing healthcare professional, so that they can determine the best ways to ensure that you have the resources you need to be successful.
About the author
Alicia Wooten, Au.D. CCC-A is a Senior Auditory Technical Specialist at Oticon Medical. She specializes in implantable hearing devices and has a strong passion for aural rehabilitation and its impact on patient outcomes.
 Boothroyd, A. (2007). Adult Aural Rehabilitation: What Is It and Does It Work? Trends in Amplification, 11(2), 63-71. https://doi.org/10.1177/1084713807301073  Dornhoffer, J. R., Reddy, P., Ma, C., Schvartz-Leyzac, K. C., Dubno, J. R., & McRackan, T. R. (2021). Use of Auditory Training and Its Influence on Early Cochlear Implant Outcomes in Adults. Otology & Neurotology, 43(2), e165–e173. https://doi.org/10.1097/mao.0000000000003417