Research from The University of Queensland could help address one of the most common disorders in children – hearing loss in the middle ear.
Associate Professor Wayne Wilson said the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences had several exciting initiatives in the field of audiology.
“Recent research suggests that, on any given day in class, up to 20% of students can have mild or worse problems from middle ear dysfunction,” Dr Wilson said.
“Picking up these problems from birth is not something that’s been done accurately in the past and we tend to only unearth those with substantial hearing problems that cannot be fixed.
“But currently UQ has Associate Professor Joseph Kei leading the way in this field by using new technology to more accurately identify middle ear dysfunction.
“It will take three to five years for this technology to transition from a research tool into wider clinical availability, but it is on its way.”
Dr Kei has pioneered wideband absorbance technology that efficiently and reliably identifies problems in infants.
Standard tools used to determine the middle ear status of children have been found to be insensitive to different types of middle ear disorders.
Infant testing until now has also been hit-and-miss at revealing where exactly trouble spots are located.
Dr Wilson and colleague Professor Andrew Bradley have also been working on increasing the efficiency of hearing tests in newborns.
“Our project has been an accelerated auditory brain scan that shortens the current process for babies from minutes down to seconds,” Dr Wilson said.
“That might not sound like much, but over the course of a year, that’s a significant improvement in efficiency.
“It then allows time for more comprehensive testing, rather than just a basic diagnosis.”
UQ’s Audiology Clinic visits two or three Queensland schools each week under the direction of Clinic Manager Joshua Flett, screening dozens of children at a time.
(Source: The University of Queensland)