Researchers in the Division of Audiology are advancing the understanding of hearing, hearing loss and balance across the life span.
Research in the Mayo Clinic Department of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery's Division of Audiology is centered on advancing the understanding of hearing, hearing loss, and inner ear (vestibular) and balance function across the life span. The audiology team leads innovative, collaborative efforts focused on clinically applied research on detection, prevention and management of hearing loss, balance issues or dizziness for patients of all ages.
Improving hearing across the life span
At Mayo Clinic, research in hearing across the life span is focused on improving hearing health care access and delivery for early detection and prevention of hearing loss.
Detecting hearing loss as early as possible and preventing or minimizing hearing damage are critical to preserving quality of life for patients of all ages. To this end, researchers in the Division of Audiology are developing more-sensitive clinical diagnostic measures. These improved measures are better able to detect and monitor small changes in auditory function due to aging, noise and other environmental factors, such as ototoxicity from medication exposure.
A number of research projects related to hearing aids are ongoing in the Mayo Clinic Hearing Aid Program. Researchers are conducting these projects as quality assurance measures to improve patient outcomes and clinical practice. Projects related to hearing aids include:
- Conducting annual surveys of patients who have obtained hearing aids during the previous year to measure their satisfaction with their hearing aids, audiologist, services and use information
- Determining whether there is a relationship among specific patient characteristics, hearing aid use patterns and hearing aid returns
- Investigating the effects of probe tubes on feedback control settings and whether the probe tubes reduce potential hearing gain because of lower feedback limits
- Tracking hearing aid repair rates for all manufacturers and examining trends regarding manufacturer, hearing aid style and hearing aid circuit
- Examining ear mold remake and modification rates for various manufacturers, styles, materials, degrees and configurations of hearing loss
The Division of Audiology's cochlear implant team is leading research on new indications for cochlear implantation and other implantable devices across the life span.
The cochlear implant team is a multidisciplinary research group specializing in clinically applied research on adopting and optimizing new cochlear implant technology in patients of all ages. Research efforts focus on identifying objective measures for implant programming. The team is investigating the use of electrocochleography during and after cochlear implant surgery to preserve natural acoustic hearing.
Balance and dizziness
The Mayo Integrated Neuro-Vestibular Team (MINT) at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, measures, monitors and assesses the vestibular and balance systems with the goal of helping people with balance problems prevent falls and injuries and attain a higher quality of life. It is a collaborative research effort among the departments of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery, Neurology, and Psychiatry and Psychology.
The MINT has pioneered the use of artificial intelligence to manage and assess patients with dizziness, allowing otolaryngologists to improve the operational efficiency of clinical practice. Researchers are now investigating computerized rotational head impulse testing and the use of hearing aids to track patient falls.