Heading a Football May Be Linked to Increase in Balance Problems
“Soccer headers are repetitive subconcussive head impacts that may be associated with problems with thinking and memory skills and structural changes in the white matter of the brain,” said study author John Jeka, PhD, of the University of Delaware in Newark, Del. “But the effect of headers on balance control has not been studied.”
For the study, 20 soccer players recruited from the community in Newark took a balance test where they walked along a foam walkway with their eyes closed under two conditions: with galvanic vestibular stimulation (GVS) and without GVS. For GVS, electrodes placed behind each ear stimulate the nerves that send messages from the balance system in the inner ear to the brain. So the stimulator can make you feel like you are moving when you are not. In this case, it made participants feel like they were falling sideways.
The soccer players, who had an average age of 22, also completed questionnaires about how many times they had headed the ball during the past year. The number of headers over a year for each participant ranged from 16 to 2,100, with an average of 451 headers. Those numbers were calculated by asking participants for the average number of headers during a practice and game, the average number of practices and games per week, and the average number of months per year that the player participated.
The study found that the players with the largest number of headers had the largest balance responses to GVS in both foot placement and hip adduction during the walking test, which indicated that they had vestibular processing and balance recovery problems. Researchers found for every 500 headers, foot placement response increased about 9 millimeters and hip adduction response increased about 0.2 degrees.
“Soccer players must have good balance to play the game well, yet our research suggests that headers may be undermining balance, which is key to all movement, and yet another problem now linked to headers,” said study author Fernando V. Santos, PT, of the University of Delaware. “It is important that additional research be done to look more closely at this possible link with balance and to confirm our findings in larger groups of people.”
A limitation of the study was that participants relied on memory when reporting how many times they headed the ball. The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Learn more about concussion at www.BrainandLife.org, the American Academy of Neurology’s free patient and caregiver magazine and website focused on the intersection of neurologic disease and brain health. Follow Brain & Life on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
To learn more about the AAN’s Sports Concussion Guideline and access resources, visit https://www.aan.com/concussion.
Original Paper: Santos FV, Caccese JB, Gongora M, et al. Greater exposure to repetitive subconcussive head impacts is associated with vestibular dysfunction and balance impairments during walking. Paper presented at: 2018 AAN Sports Concussion Conference; Indianapolis, IN. https://www.aan.com/PressRoom/Home/GetDigitalAsset/12757
Image: | Dreamstime.com
Tinnitus Relief app makes living with tinnitus easier
Chalfont Hearing, News:
An international study from 2012 found that 15% of the global population experience permanent tinnitus but many more are affected by temporary tinnitus. A Danish study, also from 2012, with 14,000 participants found that 27% of those in the study experienced either temporary or permanent tinnitus. In other words, more than one quarter of the Danish population are affected tinnitus.
But despite a lot of research on the topic, there is still a lot to learn about tinnitus. According to Chief Physician Ture Andersen at Odense University Hospital in Denmark, tinnitus is often a symptom of damage to the inner ear. Tinnitus is not a disease, but can be a symptom of a disease or an impaired auditory system. It is defined as the perception of noise or ringing in the ears when no external sound is actually present. The sounds are most commonly described as ringing, whistling, wheezing, buzzing or humming, but can be described in many other ways. A large Swedish study showed that excessive noise at work and in other environments results in fatigue, headaches and ultimately impaired hearing or tinnitus. Another study, from France, shows that only one in 123 people with tinnitus do not have a hearing impairment.
Eva Jensen, who lives in Greve, Denmark, fits in well to these statistics. With a moderate to severe hearing loss, Eva can’t hear much without her hearing aids and she experiences tinnitus.
“What does your tinnitus sound like?” I asked Eva. She explained that it is a constant buzzing sound, which lies somewhere in the middle of the pitch spectrum. “I think it developed at my work where there was a lot of noise,” says Eva. In 2006 she stopped working as an Educational Assistant in a nursery because of a back injury and since then she has suffered from constant back pain.
“It was only when I stopped working that I started thinking about my tinnitus. My husband was still working so I was at home alone where it was completely quiet and I became more aware of the ringing in my ears.” She experiences it all day, especially when she takes off her hearing aids in the evening. “Since my injury I have the TV on constantly – it helps me think of something other than my back pain,” says Eva.
Eva’s experience with Relief app
“It’s really great to be able to use the app when my tinnitus is driving me crazy. If you are strongly affected by tinnitus, I would definitely recommend this app. There are so many possibilities with creating your own soundscapes, you can always find a sound that’s comfortable. There is no doubt that I’m going to keep it on my phone, so I can get help when my tinnitus it really bothering me,” says Eva with a smile.
The idea of helping people focus on something other than the pain, or in this case tinnitus, is the basic concept of a new app made by the hearing aid manufacturer GN Hearing. The free app is called ReSound Relief and offers a combination of audio therapy and relaxation exercises. My editorial team and I tested the app, which offers some new and unique features compared to other apps we have tried. One very smart feature of the app is that it allows you to create your own soundscapes.
Relief allows you to combine a variety of familiar sounds such as birdsong or bubbling water with music and other therapeutic nature sounds. The ability to combine sounds, offers an almost endless amount of possibilities. This sound mixing feature allows you to mix five different sounds and you can individually adjust the volume of each sound.
After downloading the app, you can listen to music on your smartphone as usual, and if you use wireless hearing aids or headphones, you can stream directly through them. The ReSound Relief app also contains a feature called MyRelief that keeps a record of how you use the app and which sounds you have used the most. It creates a personalized plan and allows you to track your progress, much like an exercise app. “When we were developing the concept of this app, we analyzed the market for other tinnitus apps and found that mostof them just use sounds as a distraction. Very few actually guide the user through the tinnitus management process. Tinnitus management for many is more than just playing a sound.
The idea of MyRelief is that you can use it as part of the treatment provided by a Hearing Care Professional. Because MyRelief keeps a record of your use, it provides useful information that a Hearing Care professional can use as part of tinnitus counseling” says Michael Piskosz, Senior Audiologist at GN Hearing.
The app gives you some great tools to help you with your tinnitus.
Avoid a vicious spiral
Worldwide, around 700 million people experience tinnitus. Around two thirds of them have mild to moderate tinnitus. People in the last third with more severe tinnitus can even experience feelings of desperation and hopelessness. International studies show that only about 3-5% of people seek help, so many people just try to live with tinnitus without any support. “In the United States, 70-80% of the population have a smartphone, and because we know that many people are desperately searching for help, we made this app. In most cases, the app will be beneficial. In addition to the distracting sounds there is also therapeutic support,” says Michael Piskosz. “ReSound Relief includes relaxation exercises and techniques for dealing with the tension and stress that tinnitus can cause. If you are extremely affected by tinnitus, the app alone will not be enough but it is a very useful tool and a great first step for people seeking help with tinnitus.”
This strategy is supported by a study by Professor Ture Andersen from Odense University Hospital. “Unfortunately, the more emotionally you react to your tinnitus, the more the tinnitus signals will pass through the hearing center in your brain. If you respond by getting irritated or with stress or anxiety, it can actually make you more aware of the tinnitus sounds. You may end up getting into a “vicious cycle” where your tinnitus ends up controlling you. It’s important to learn how to avoid this. One way is by training yourself not to respond to the tinnitus sounds. This way, the brain will filter out the noise signals to a large extent before reaching the hearing center. Then you’ll only hear a weak sound in the background, a light soundscape that makes it less distracting.” The study also shows that music can help. The volume of the music should not be particularly high – it’s not about covering up the sound of tinnitus with a louder sound – but about focusing your attention on the music and away the tinnitus.
“In some cases, when you use audio therapy to get relief from your tinnitus, the focus on it can increase,” explains Michael Piskosz. “Many people believe that this is due to the introduction of the technology to help with the tinnitus. Often times, people monitor their tinnitus more, to see if the technology is helping. It’s similar to when someone gets a new pair of shoes. At first, they are very aware of the shoes, and getting used to the fit. But, with time, they adjust and acclimate. Typically, users will find that the focus on tinnitus will be reduced over-time by using an app like ReSound Relief.”
More information about ReSound apps, please click here.
Neurofeedback May Reduce Severity of Tinnitus, Study Shows
Researchers using functional MRI (fMRI) have found that neurofeedback training has the potential to reduce the severity of tinnitus or even eliminate it, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), the international society of radiologists, medical physicists, and other medical professionals announced on its website.
For the study, researchers looked at a novel potential way to treat tinnitus by having people use neurofeedback training to turn their focus away from the sounds in their ears. Neurofeedback is a way of training the brain by allowing an individual to view some type of external indicator of brain activity and attempt to exert control over it.
“The idea is that in people with tinnitus there is an over-attention drawn to the auditory cortex, making it more active than in a healthy person,” said Matthew S. Sherwood, PhD, research engineer and adjunct faculty in the Department of Biomedical, Industrial, and Human Factors Engineering at Wright State University in Fairborn, Ohio. “Our hope is that tinnitus sufferers could use neurofeedback to divert attention away from their tinnitus and possibly make it go away.”
To determine the potential efficacy of this approach, the researchers had 18 healthy volunteers with normal hearing undergo five fMRI-neurofeedback training sessions. Study participants were given earplugs through which white noise could be introduced for periods of time. The earplugs also served to block out the scanner noise.
To obtain fMRI results, the researchers used single-shot echo planar imaging, an MRI technique that is sensitive to blood oxygen levels, providing an indirect measure of brain activity.
“We started with alternating periods of sound and no sound in order to create a map of the brain and find areas that produced the highest activity during the sound phase,” Sherwood said. “Then we selected the voxels that were heavily activated when sound was being played.”
The volunteers then participated in the fMRI-neurofeedback training phase while inside the MRI scanner. They received white noise through their earplugs and were able to view the activity in their primary auditory cortex as a bar on a screen. Each fMRI-neurofeedback training run contained eight blocks separated into a 30-second “relax” period followed by a 30-second “lower” period. Participants were instructed to watch the bar during the relax period and actively attempt to lower it by decreasing primary auditory cortex activity during the lower phase.
The researchers gave the participants techniques to help them do this, such as trying to divert attention from sound to other sensations like touch and sight.
“Many focused on breathing because it gave them a feeling of control,” Sherwood said. “By diverting their attention away from sound, the participants’ auditory cortex activity went down, and the signal we were measuring also went down.”
A control group of nine individuals were provided sham neurofeedback—they performed the same tasks as the other group, but the feedback came not from them but from a random participant. By performing the exact same procedures with both groups using either real or sham neurofeedback, the researchers were able to distinguish the effect of real neurofeedback on control of the primary auditory cortex.
The study reportedly represents the first time fMRI-neurofeedback training has been applied to demonstrate that there is a significant relationship between control of the primary auditory cortex and attentional processes. This is important to therapeutic development, Sherwood said, as the neural mechanisms of tinnitus are unknown but likely related to attention.
The results represent a promising avenue of research that could lead to improvements in other areas of health like pain management, according to Sherwood.
“Ultimately, we’d like take what we learned from MRI and develop a neurofeedback program that doesn’t require MRI to use, such as an app or home-based therapy that could apply to tinnitus and other conditions,” he said.
Co-authors are Emily E. Diller, MS; Subhashini Ganapathy, PhD; Jeremy Nelson, PhD; and Jason G. Parker, PhD. This material is based on research sponsored by the US Air Force under agreement number FA8650-16-2-6702. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect the official views or policy of the Department of Defense and its Components. The US Government is authorized to reproduce and distribute reprints for Governmental purposes notwithstanding any copyright notation thereon. The voluntary, fully informed consent of the subjects used in this research was obtained as required by 32 CFR 219 and DODI 3216.02_AFI 40-402.
ADM Tronics Unlimited, Inc (OTCQB: ADMT), a technology-based developer and manufacturer of innovative technologies, has authorized its subsidiary, Aurex International Corporation (“AIC”) to begin advertising its new hearing protection product, Tinnitus Shield™ in Tinnitus Today, the official publication of the American Tinnitus Association, ADM announced.
Tinnitus Shield™ has been designed to protect against damaging sounds shown to cause tinnitus for individuals at risk of acquiring this condition, according to the company’s announcement. These include military, police, musicians, construction workers, and many other occupations subject to Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL).
The US Veterans Health Administration (VA) reports that tinnitus is the most prevalent combat-related disability affecting veterans, making it a high-priority healthcare issue facing the military and the VA.
While Tinnitus Shield™ has been specifically engineered to protect against the sounds which may cause tinnitus, AIC also plans to bring to market Aurex-3®, a patented, non-invasive therapy technology for the treatment and control of tinnitus.
Heading up AIC is CEO Mark Brenner, BSc, PhD, who draws upon years of experience serving the tinnitus market in the United Kingdom. Brenner brings with him the vision and resources necessary to set in motion the launching and distribution of Aurex-3 throughout the US and Europe. For these reasons, the company believes that under Brenner’s leadership and guidance, both AIC technologies can effectively penetrate this burgeoning market.
“The potential market for effective technologies that addresses the tinnitus marketplace is significant, considering the millions and millions of sufferers in the US and worldwide,” said Andre’ DiMino, president of ADMT.
Brenner commented, “AIC is now able to offer the full spectrum of support to the worldwide tinnitus community with its Tinnitus Shield, providing protection from noise-induced tinnitus, and the Aurex-3, as an active treatment and management system for those who have developed tinnitus. This is receiving great interest in the UK where we are actively working with The Tinnitus Clinic, a group of specialist tinnitus clinics. In the US we have active discussions with the American Tinnitus Association.”
Source: ADM Tronics Limited
Attractive people are less likely to get health related problems like asthma, diabetes and tinnitus research suggests. (more…)
Animal model testing of an epilepsy drug has shown promise in treating tinnitus from developing after exposure to noise. The research conducted by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study focused on an auditory centre in the brain called the dorsal cochlea nucleus (DCN). From previous research in mice, they knew that tinnitus is associated with hyperactivity of DCN cells which fire impulses even when there is no actual sound to perceive. For the new experiments, the team took a close look at the biophysical properties of tiny channels, called KCNQ channels, through which potassium ions travel in and out of the cell.
According to DR Thanos Tzounopoulos “We found that mice with tinnitus have hyperactive DCN cells because of a reduction in KCNQ potassium channel activity, these KCNQ channels act as effective brakes that reduce excitability of activity of neuronal cells”.
The researchers found that mice that were treated with retigabine immediately after noise exposure did not develop tinnitus. Consistent with previous studies, 50 percent of noise-exposed mice that were not treated with the drug exhibited behavioural signs of the condition.
If such a medicine can be utilised it will be extremely welcomed by many people who suffer from tinnitus. Further studies and human trials present future hurdles which must be successfully overcome before any tinnitus relief can be delivered from retigabine. If tinnitus is proving problematic for you then why not contact our audiologist today 01494 765144 and see if we can help.
In may 2013, 50 dispensers and audiologists took part in the UKs first Widex Zen Therapy Educational workshop for tinnitus. Chalfont Hearing Centre were one of those select hearing professionals. The material that day was very useful and has furthered significant development of our tinnitus management program. The course gave an overview of how Zen and Widex hearing aids could be utilised in the treatment, reduction and management of tinnitus (ringing and buzzing sounds in the ears). The event was attended by a very prominent figure in audiology from the US Dr Robert Sweetow who gave some really useful lectures and advice on tinintus management.
Widex Zen Therapy is an integrated package for tinnitus management. It is incorporated throughout the widex dream range and and can provide customised fractal tones, noise or both for patients who struggle with tinnitus. We have now utilised this treatment in the rehabilitation of a number of patients. The outcomes have been useful for a majority of patients, however proved less useful for 1 or 2. The main reasons the treatment was reported successful by patients was that it provided distraction, relief and reduced focus of the tinnitus. We feel that as part of a tailored tinnitus management program WZT can provide certain patients with relief from their tinnitus symptoms. But that in isolation the benefits will be less effective.
To find out more about how Widex Zen Therapy and our tailored tinnitus management program could improve your tinnitus symptoms call 01494 765144.
Tinnitus affects 1 in 10 people in the UK and can be caused by a host of conditions and can occur in people with normal hearing thresholds and people with hearing loss. Our Subject Patients’ tinnitus was a high frequency sound which was louder some days than others, and was often worse in a quiet environment. After struggling for a long period of time with his tinnitus, he decided to take action. He was referred for treatment, where he was fitted with a device which uses Acoustic Neuromodulation. The treatment is delivered using a small palm size device which delivers low-level sounds to the ear via headphones. The device works by forcing auditory nerve cells sensitive to different frequencies to fire at a different rate and so disrupt the abnormal neuron firing that is associated with tinnitus. This particular type of sound therapy is extremely new in tinnitus treatment and management circles. At the Chalfont Hearing Centre, Bucks, we are also utilising this form of tinnitus management using our preferred device, the Soundcure Serenade. This device also uses amplitude modulated and pitch matched tones. The generated sounds are referred to as S-tones and are customised specifically for your unique tinnitus, which research suggests can reduce your perception of tinnitus. Such devices are not a tinintus cure or a tinnitus miracle but they have had significant results. Serenade is designed for short term relief of tinnitus symptoms and long term relief as part of a tinnitus management program here at Chalfont Hearing Centre near High Wycombe.
Advanced treatments like those provided at the Chalfont Hearing Centre are not available via the NHS, Currently this device costs £1750 and is only available through approved hearing and audiology centres. To book a tinnitus assessment or for more information on our tinnitus sound therapies please contact us on 01494 765144.