Audiology is in its infancy in Ghana, West Africa. There is much progress that has been made by the first audiology graduates in Ghana. To my knowledge, all the graduates have audiology-related jobs throughout Ghana. Two of our former students are now pursuing PhDs at universities in Canada. Another audiologist, working at a teaching hospital in northern Ghana has just submitted a manuscript to the American Academy of Audiology (peer-reviewed journal) that was accepted for publication just this week. The title is “Inter-regional newborn hearing screening via tele-health in Ghana.” Graham Amponsah Ameyaw is first author. This is pioneering work that has been ongoing in Ghana since 2014. I could not be more pleased with these young audiologists as they forge new paths to providing hearing healthcare to their fellow Ghanaians.
Medico-legal documents and code of ethics
I have just finished a case that dealt with possible hearing loss due to exposure to gunfire. It was an unusual case in that the hearing loss that followed exposure to gunfire did not manifest itself in the high frequencies as would be expected, but rather at 500 and 1000 Hertz. There was not a preponderance of evidence to support a causal effect of the gunfire. The case settled out of court. There is a lot to be said about gathering evidence to build a case; it must be accurate, current, thorough, and adequate. One issue in this case that bears repeating is that whenever an audiologist takes an intake history, or makes chart entries, or records audiometric and related data, or writes a report–those items are medico-legal documents subject to subpoena. Best practice is to make the entries as clear and legible as possible so that if the audiologist is called upon as a witness or another audiologist is to review and deliver an opinion to the court, that there will be adequate information to form such an opinion. Finally, practicing clinical audiologists must always consider that their priority is to the safety and wellbeing of their patients. If an audiologist is being asked to provide services for which he or she is not qualified, and/or for which he or she does not have practical experience, a referral to another qualified colleague is the appropriate course of action. Failing to do so is an obvious injustice to the patient/client and a violation of the professional code of ethics.
Future Doctors of Audiology Humanitarian Mission to Costa Rica
I am quite proud of the students and faculty at Utah State University in Logan, Utah for having just completed their 11th international humanitarian hearing healthcare mission to Costa Rica. This year the mission provided 450 hearing tests and fit 60 individuals with hearing aids, all at no cost.
Students and faculty fund these missions out of their own pockets with some assistance derived from fund raising or small grants. This is an invaluable experience for the future audiologists and of course is a much needed service to those who cannot afford hearing healthcare.
This humanitarian effort started in 2001 with a small contingency of students and faculty that spent a day in Tijuana, Mexico providing hearing tests at no cost to the local residents. The patients were very grateful for the attention they received. Many of them came early in the morning and waited all day to be seen.
These services have now been provided to men, women and children in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, and Ghana, West Africa. My hope is that this tradition will continue throughout the careers of these future doctors of audiology. John
Hearing loss and exposure to industrial chemicals
There is mounting evidence that chemicals, asphyxiants and some heavy metals can affect hearing. Workers in many industries around the globe are exposed daily to chemicals that are ototoxic. Some research reveals that there is a synergistic effect when workers are exposed to chemicals and noise. This is an area of interest to me and I feel strongly that this issue needs to be addressed in workers compensation cases. Audiologists should be among those who are educating attorneys and others in related professions about the dangers of chemicals, asphyxiants and heavy metals when combined with exposure to noise.
I have recently retired from my faculty position in audiology at Utah State University and am now focussing my time consulting on cases involving worker’s compensation where hearing loss is an issue.
My mailing address is:
Forensic Audiology Consulting Services, LLC
1876 South Alondra Drive
Washington, Utah 84780
Cell: (435) 512-0898
Several cases that I have recently taken involve plaintiffs working in petrochemical plants. These are individuals that have spent 30-40 years exposed to loud levels of noise. Each case is unique and requires attention to detail in order to better understand the impact of the hearing loss acquired over years.
Questions about audiology and related topics
I would be interested to know what questions others have about hearing, hearing loss, medical audiology, forensic audiology, balance disorders, noise and hearing conservation. I would like to address those questions as a public service in this blog. If you have a question, please submit it to email@example.com.
I recommend going to YouTube and typing in “pistol shrimp.” This is one way that nature uses sound in a creative and unusual way.
Traumatic Brain Injury in Football
This video is definitely worth watching and sharing with others.
Audiology vs. Audio Tech or Engineer
Audiology is the study of hearing and balance. Audiologists are allied health care providers who evaluate individuals whose primary complaints are hearing or balance related. This is a relatively new field which explains why there might be some confusion as to what audiologists do. I have had three inquiries recently that asked for my forensic services in evaluating recorded tapes for possible tampering. As interesting as that might be, it really does not fall into the scope of practice of audiologists, rather an audio technician or engineer should be consulted. Hopefully this helps clarify the issue.
Special Interest Group 8
I just returned from a meeting at the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association in Rockville, MD. I sit on the coordinating committee and serve as the editor of Special Interest Group 8. This group focuses on public health issues relating to hearing and balance. Below is a list of the current areas of focus:
- Noise and hearing conservation
- Acoustic measurement and standards
- Environmental studies and policy
- Legislation pertaining to public, educational, and occupational accessibility and accommodations for those with hearing and balance problems
- Forensic (investigative) audiology
- Emergent issues related to high risk variables such as ototoxins, infectious disease, acoustic (neuro-otologic) trauma, and domestic abuse/violence.
- Innovations in teleaudiology
We are looking for input regarding areas that are timely and of importance. What would you like to see addressed by this committee? Our goal is to disseminate information to the public and to professionals.