A Hearing Loss & Late Deafened Blog

Attendee Shares Her SWC Convention Experience

In SWC convention on September 1, 2014 at 5:27 pm

By Nancy Fenstermaker

Nancy  (picture by Chelle)

Nancy (picture by Chelle)

Lorne Smith, the President of the Say What Club opened the seventeenth SWC Convention which took place in Madison, Wisconsin at the Madison Concourse Hotel on July 2014. He welcomed the 32 registrants, families and friends to 2 days of workshops. The importance of this hearing loss convention is to encourage participation between SWC nine email lists members through social contact and educational workshops.

Lorne's Welcome (picture by Chelle)

Lorne’s Welcome (picture by Chelle)

Dr. Samuel P. Gubbels, he researches regenerative therapies to study hair cell loss in the human ear which causes 80% of hearing loss. The ear is fully grown at birth and it has been assumed that the hearing loss is irreversible. In his laboratory he uses acoustic energy pathology of animals to compare the development of the human ear’s cochlea receptor before birth. This research is based on gene therapy involving the organ of the Corti in mammalian animals. The gene Atoh1 is inoculated into the cochlea of their inner ear to regenerate hair cells or auditory sensory cells. To quote Dr. Gubbels.. “Hair cells have to be attached to the brain or they won’t work.”

Dr. Gubbles

Dr. Gubbels (picture by Chelle)

In the laboratory, mice and guinea pigs are tested for reactions to Atoh1. Atoh1 generated hair cells are functional. Other ways to regenerate hair cells are to use endogenous inner ear stem cells in the human ear. Mouse stem cells are like Adult inner ear. This invivo model can be improved with his lab’s work in a variety of pluripotent stem cell types introduced to their invitro model. The University of Wisconsin Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine Center uses the pluripotent stem cell in collaboration with the laboratory of Dr. Su-Chen Zhang. This stem cell research looks at the inner ear’s sensory epithelia that detect the mouse’s head motion, balance, and sound. The laboratory tries to create mechanosensitive hair cell-like cells from the mouse’s embryonic and pluripotent stem cells. This invitro research has to be recapitulated into the invivo development of the mouse’s inner ear. The scientific markers and progenitors from this stem cell research open up a future of evaluation into the results of their laboratory findings. They review Stem Cell Clinical Trials around the world not just in the USA. The further research will lead to more important uses of the pluripotent stem cell into cell-based therapies for hearing loss. One model used now in humans is the cochlear implant which spark hair cells to talk to the brain. Dr. Gubbels concluded his presentation and the fielded the audience for questions.

Workshop attendees.

Workshop attendees. (Picture by Chelle)

Lorne Smith, president of the SWC during the workshops. (picture from Chelle)

Workshops (picture by Chelle)

Tina Hallis, is a Ph.D. speaker and trainer for her company The Positive Edge. She spoke of positive psychology through positive thoughts and feelings. She started with a discussion on why it’s hard to focus on the good. Our brains are wired to survive so we are by nature of cautious. If we are outside and walk by a field on the horizon do we see a cow or a bull? We think it might be a bull…a negative thought but a survival technique. So we need to think it might be a cow first. The Positive Edge trains our mind to change our brain. We can do that by adding positive moments to our day. Sing a song or talk to a friend. Do a kind deed. Anything to make us smile. A smile trains our minds even though it’s subtle. A smile can communicate with your brain on through a neural connection. We have to rewire our brains. She wants us to realize we can be happier in life. List some positive moments in our day. Think of good memories. Tell someone a positive about them. Use happy and positive thoughts to feed your “mental nutrition.”

Cochlear Implant workshop (picture by Chelle)

Cochlear Implant workshop (picture by Chelle)

Julia Biederstein, Advanced Bionics, their Cochlear Implant offers close to a normal-hearing ear. She presented a drawing and a handout of the ear, labeling all the parts of where hair cell loss occurs. This loss creates hearing impairment. There is the outer ear, inner ear and three small bones in the eardrum. The eardrum creates a chain reaction with auditory nerve with hair cells. In a hearing loss person these hair cells are missing.

First though their company wants to know if an adult is a candidate for a CI. She covered a few questions the listener should answer…do you have difficulty following conversations without lip reading; hear pretty well in quiet environments but struggle in noisy and in a group; cannot follow telephone conversations. Does the listener feel socially isolated in everyday life or at work, etc. ? Then get a Advanced Bionics Cochlear Implant.

Dr. Juliette Sterkens on hearing loops. (picture by Lorne)

Dr. Juliette Sterkens on hearing loops. (picture by Lorne)

Dr. Juliette Sterkens, AuD was Say What Convention’s Keynote Speaker at its banquet. She has a audiology practice in Oshkosh, WI. Through the years she has become a part of hearing loop history. Standard hearing loops was set in Europe with the IEC (International Electrotechnical Comission). During her presentation she asked who was wearing Cochlear Implants or hearing aids. These two devices need to have telecoils to listen in a hearing loop room. She has demo device with earbuds to let all the audience members experience what hearing loops do for one’s hearing. The magnetic field and flux lines in a hearing loop room are regulated by the IEC. It is a universal collaboration between listeners and the looped community because along with the IEC standard, the British ADA mandates hearing loops. The United States has no regulatory organization because it follows the IEC. All hearing devices are now universally linked through loops so the same US or Canada or other country listener can travel to Europe and hear in the loops there too.

A hearing loop is a wired placed around the perimeter of a room connected to an amplifier. The loop receives an input signal at the same time creates a vertical magnetic field, fitting the IEC standard. The magnetic field reaches the telecoil in the cochlear implant or a hearing aid. Dr. Sterkens noted that audiologists have to know to position the telecoil vertically for hearing loop use. The telecoil is programmed and configured into the wearer’s cochlear implant or hearing aid. The benefits of telecoils in a hearing loop is the difference between sitting in a theatrical play and hearing all the distracting sounds or the performer’s voices brought directly to your ear and no distractions.

diagram of hearing loops (picture taken from ListenTech.com)

diagram of hearing loops (picture taken from ListenTech.com)

Dr. Sterkens, in addition to being an audiologist who understands the benefits of hearing loops also knows that advocacy for additional loops in the community is essential. She gave all audience members Hearing Loop Surveys to be filled out by the cochlear implant or hearing aid wearer. As advocates for hearing loop installation, the Say What Club members can relate their satisfaction on this survey. Their experiences with hearing loops and telecoils are important in the survey. Understanding how to tell the community about hearing loops is important in advocacy. Go home from the convention Dr. Sterkens says and tell audiologists about hearing loops. “Foster the Change” get out and complain, better yet tell the media. Take your Hello Card with you everywhere as it explains that a hearing loop would make a certain venue ADA compliant. Get the Community in the Loop.

Thank you Nancy for writing about the SWC convention.   We are glad you enjoyed it.


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