Do you ever feel unbalanced or unsteady when working out at Personally Fit? If you suffer from balance problems and untreated hearing loss, there’s good news: hearing aids may help! Below we review one study on the connection between hearing and balance.
About the Study
The study was conducted by researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and led by Timothy E. Hullar, Professor of Otolaryngology. The purpose of the study was twofold: First, it sought to uncover whether the sense of hearing contributes to balance, and second, the goal was to determine whether use of hearing aids impacts the ability to balance.
The study, entitled “The effect of hearing aids on postural stability,” was published in the journal The Laryngoscope in March of 2015.
The study was small, with a total of fourteen participants who were between the ages of 65 and 91. Each participant underwent standard balance tests in order to measure their postural balance.
Two tests were performed: the foam pad test and the heel-to-toe test. The foam pad test entailed participants standing on a thick foam pad with their eyes covered, and the heel-to-toe test involved participants standing with one foot in front of the other in a heel-to-toe position, again with their eyes covered.
Each test was performed twice, once with both their hearing aids turned off and again with them turned on. For each test, the researchers measured how long the participants could stand still without moving their arms or feet to catch themselves.
The results of the study are broken down as follows:
- For the foam pad test, the average duration of stability was 17 seconds with devices off and 26 seconds with devices on.
- For the heel-to-toe test, the average duration of stability was 5 seconds with devices off and 10 seconds with devices on.
The researchers note that these results are statistically significant and that they indicate wearing hearing aids offers a significant benefit for older adults when it comes to avoiding falls.
Significance of Study
Lead researcher Professor Hullar notes, “The participants appeared to be using the sound information coming through their hearing aids as auditory reference points or landmarks to help maintain balance.”
The significance of this study is that it is the first of its kind to show how sound information can be used to help maintain balance. For more information about this study or about the connection between hearing and balance, call Rancho Santa Fe Audiology today.