Hearing aids do so much more than help you hear. It turns out they may also help you stay on your feet, according to a study conducted at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO. Researchers found that older people with impaired hearing were better able to maintain balance when they used their hearing aids.
In the Washington University School of Medicine study, patients age 65 to 91 participated in two balance tests with their hearing aids turned on and off. Researchers measured how long participants could maintain certain positions without using their arms or feet to help with their balance. The time was significantly longer for those whose hearing aids were on.
“The participants appeared to be using the sound information coming through their hearing aids as auditory reference points, or landmarks, to help maintain balance,” explains senior author Timothy E. Hullar, professor of otolaryngology.
It’s well known that the inner ear is largely responsible for balance, equilibrium and orientation in three-dimensional spaces. This study is apparently the first to show that sound itself helps with postural stability.