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Our Audiology Clinic
Our clinic provides the following audiological services for infants through adults:
- Diagnostic hearing evaluations
- Hearing aid evaluation
- Dispensing a wide range of hearing aids
- Assistive devices
- Hearing conservation programs including hearing tests for individuals exposed to high-noise environments
- Hearing conservation products including ear plugs, musician's ear plugs, and ear muffs
A client interested in obtaining hearing aids from our clinics will meet with audiologist to select a product that meets their needs. We work with a number of manufacturers that offer hearing aids with a wide range of options and costs. All hearing aids purchased in our clinic may be returned within 45 days if the client is not completely satisfied, in accordance with Minnesota state law. Clients are provided with follow-up appointments at no cost for the first year after receiving the hearing aid.
In addition to our hearing aid services, we work with clients to determine if other assistive devices may be beneficial. These are devices for the telephone, alerting systems, and devices that amplify speakers in large groups or settings with excessive background noise.
Hearing Conservation Testing
Our clinic tests and monitors hearing levels in individuals who are exposed to chronic noise from occupational or recreational environments. We begin by assessing a clinical inventory of possible noise exposure from all sources, including sounds from machinery/factory environments, musical performance, hunting/gunshots, and others. We then conduct formal baseline hearing tests to assess current hearing thresholds. These tests include a basic audiogram across a full frequency range and screening tympantometry (middle-ear testing). Testing could also include more advanced diagnostics techniques such as transient and distortion product otoacoustic emissions. We review the hearing test results and use this information to recommend strategies for identifying risks and protecting ears from damaging noise exposure. The baseline test is kept on file to compare with periodic follow-up tests and to verify the effectiveness of the recommended hearing conservation program.
We also dispense protective hearing conservation products, including stock or custom-fitted earplugs, earmuffs, and musician's earplugs.
Auditory Processing Disorder
Some people have more difficulty processing what they hear than others do. Presumably, people who experience this problem have normal hearing, but sounds are not being processed efficiently by the auditory structures higher up in the brain. Individuals who fit this description are assessed to determine whether they have an "auditory processing disorder."
Clients are evaluated using a number of behavioral and physiological assessment procedures. Information from these assessments is used for both clinical and research purposes. In other words, clients participate in assessments that are considered part of the clinic's standard of care (i.e., tests of hearing, auditory function, and speech-language and intellectual ability) and assessments that the clinic staff view as experimental (i.e., behavioral tests of auditory processing). Clients are only billed for procedures that are standard of care. All other procedures are conducted at no charge. The complete assessment involves four to five visits to the clinic that each last one to two hours. The results of all testing are clearly explained to the client/parent/guardian and appropriate referrals and recommendations are made.
Our clinic values an interdisciplinary team approach to auditory processing testing with collaboration between an audiologist and a speech-language pathologist. The purpose of the audiologist’s auditory processing testing is to determine whether auditory information can effectively travel from a listener's ear to the brain, even under challenging circumstances, such as when there is noise in the background or different messages are going to each ear simultaneously. During an auditory processing assessment, the listener simply has to repeat back what was presented, but does not have to understand the meaning of what was being said. However, speech-language testing evaluates auditory or written comprehension of information. In other words, the speech-language assessment determines whether the listener can make sense of the meaning of information that was presented. The results of previous testing have confirmed that some individuals struggle with auditory processing but not language processing, others struggle with language processing but not auditory processing, and some have difficulty in both areas.
Difficulty with the processing of spoken communication can occur due to a wide variety of factors, including those listed below. Auditory processing testing is not appropriate for the following individuals, who are expected to struggle with the auditory processing tasks:
- Children under the age of 7
- Listeners with hearing loss (thresholds poorer than 25 dB HL at any frequency)
- Individuals with an IQ less than 85
- Individuals with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Individuals with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or Emotional/Behavioral Disorder whose symptoms are untreated and might result in inconsistent performance
- Non-native speakers of English
Prior to scheduling an appointment for an auditory processing assessment, interested individuals/parents/caregivers must speak with an audiologist from our clinic to determine whether the testing would be appropriate based on the types of difficulties being experienced.
The complete assessment will involve four to five visits to the clinic that will each last one to two hours.
Aural Rehabilitative Group
Our clinic offers an aural rehabilitative group for adults with hearing loss who experience challenges with listening across different situations and environments. The group meets weekly for four weeks, with each session designed to provide new information about a specific topic. Every session includes interactive group activities to allow members to practice their skills in hearing and speaking effectively with different communication partners.
Some of the themes of weekly sessions include:
- Knowledge about the nature and causes of hearing loss
- Understanding hearing aids
- Using other amplification and assistive devices
- Strategies for improving communication
- Introduction to speech-reading skills
- Organizations and publications of interest to persons with hearing loss
Hearing Loss Simulator
Joe Hinz, an alum of the Doctor of Audiology (AuD) program, developed the Hearing Loss Simulator for a class project to demonstrate different configurations of hearing loss to those with normal hearing. Click on the link above and play each of the audio files to experience hearing with different types of hearing loss.