The research project will evaluate if, and how much, hearing aids might impact or improve balance and prevent falls. More than half of adults over the age of 65 experience hearing loss and about 65% of them seek no treatment. Recent studies suggest that people with hearing loss also may be at greater risk of falling.
Our sense of balance exists in areas of the inner ear, but we are also dependent on information gathered from the surrounding environment through our senses of sight, touch and hearing. One-third of older adults fall each year, according to recent national studies. The resulting injuries can be life-threatening.
During the study, participants will be supplied with overall assessments of their hearing and balance systems. The comprehensive testing will take place at the UT Dallas Callier Center for Communication Disorders. If a hearing loss is identified, the audiologist will perform a hearing aid evaluation and selection.
The researchers hypothesize that there will be increased cognitive resources available to devote to balance when the hearing aids are worn and are hopeful that the study will lead to a better understanding of the importance of hearing and its effects on our quality of life.
The study is funded by a grant from the Texas Medical Research Collaborative to UT Dallas and UNT Health Science Center. Other UT Dallas researchers and students are involved in the project.