Since 2005, the Marion Downs Lecture in Pediatric Audiology has been the highlight for pediatric audiologists attending AudiologyNOW!, the annual convention of the American Academy of Audiology. This lecture series is supported with a grant from The Oticon Foundation. The inaugural lecture was given by Anu Sharma, PhD. Many pediatric audiologists, myself included, can remember sitting in that session, captivated and inspired by the groundbreaking work that Dr. Sharma presented on the biological markers of auditory development and the impact of early intervention.
Audiologists see a variety of hearing losses, mild sloping to severe, flat, and precipitous. We do not question to recommend amplification for a patient with a moderate hearing loss or a high-frequency, mild-to-severe hearing loss. But what about a mild, high-frequency hearing loss? What determines whether a patient chooses a hearing aid?
We recently had the opportunity to visit with Shelly Chadha, MBBS, MS, PhD, medical officer, WHO Program for Prevention of Deafness and Hearing Loss. Dr. Chadha is a native of India. She was trained as an otolaryngologist at the University of Delhi, India, and subsequently undertook doctoral studies in public health at the same university.
I will always regret that I never met C.C. Bunch. I like to think of him as the very first audiologist. Toward the end of his life, he was a member of the faculty of my alma mater, Northwestern University, but he died three years before I entered the school as a freshman in 1945. He was well remembered by the older faculty, especially by voice scientist Paul Moore, who helped Bunch prepare his book, Clinical Audiometry, the first real tutorial on the techniques and interpretations of pure-tone audiometric testing.
Ask an audiologist what “normal” hearing is and, not surprisingly, you will get a variety of responses (Figure 1). Certainly, normal pure-tone threshold sensitivity does not rule out hearing difficulty or the presence of auditory pathology, including cochlear and auditory neural peripheral or central deficits. Further, a number of non-auditory factors can contribute to a patient’s perceived hearing difficulty (e.g., cognitive capacity, attention, medications, etc.).
Neurocognitive Deficits in Children with Hearing Loss After Cancer Treatment
In a recent study on survivors of childhood cancers at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Bess et al (2020) report an increased risk for neurocognitive deficits in children who have hearing loss after treatment.
The study sample of 1,512 cancer survivors was separated into groups based on the degree of hearing loss and type of cancer treatment. The three groups included those who received cisplatin and/or carboplatin chemotherapy, cochlear radiotherapy (RT) with or without platinum-based chemotherapy, or no exposure.
The year 2020 is the 250th anniversary of the birth of the great classical composer, Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827). There is no authentic record of his actual date of birth, however the registry of his baptism in the Catholic parish of St. Remigius was on December 17, 1770.
To recognize this historical occasion, Perciaccante et al (2020) provide a review of Beethoven’s hearing loss and his use of hearing instruments of the time.