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March 03, 2015

Hearing aids improve balance in elderly people

Elderly people with hearing loss have a better balance with their hearing aids turned on compared to when their hearing aids are turned off.

Hearing aids improve balance in elderly people

A study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis in the US has found that elderly people who are hard of hearing have better balance skills when their hearing is enhanced by hearing aids in both ears.

Balance tests

In the study, standard balance tests were con-ducted on 14 test persons aged 65-91. The participants functioned as their own controls by performing the same balance tests with and without their hearing aids turned on. During the balance tests the participants were exposed to white noise similar to the sound of radio static. 

One task was to stand on a foam pad and another was to stand with one foot in front of the other. Both tasks were performed with the participants’ eyes covered. How long the participants could hold the same position was measured with their hearing aids turned on and off, respectively.

Better balance with hearing aids 

The results of the tests showed that the participants were able to keep their balance for longer when their hearing aids were turned on. Those who had a hard time keeping their balance performed significantly better when their hearing aids were turned on. The more challenging the tests became, the more their balance improved when the hearing aids were on. 

For the foam pad test, the average time of balancing was 17 seconds with the hearing aids turned off and 26 with the hearing aids turned on. For the second test, the balancing time doubled from 5 to 10 seconds when the participants’ hearing aids were turned on.
 
The findings of the study support previous American research that has found a connection between hearing loss and the risk of falling.
 
The study was published in The Laryngoscope.

Source:www.news.wustl.edu 

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