Hearing aids can significantly boost people’s quality of life by making it easier for them to hear and discern the sounds around them. However, getting fitted for a hearing device is usually only the first part of the full hearing solution. Like athletes who undergo physical therapy in order to become accustomed to artificial limbs, individuals with hearing aids can benefit enormously from specialized training in order to take full advantage of their devices. That training is known as aural rehabilitation.
Aural rehabilitation is a program designed to help hearing aid recipients improve their listening skills. Aural rehabilitation programs typically consist of listening exercises that last around a half hour and can be completed at the user’s own pace, usually over the course of 10 days or so.
Depending on the program used, you can often receive immediate feedback and graphical progress reports for the user. Moreover, results of the customer’s performance are available to their hearing care professional, enabling them to make the best choices about fine-tuning their hearing device.
Aural rehabilitation typically focuses on building skills in three categories: cognitive skills, communication strategies, and degraded speech. The approach behind the program is to teach the brain to focus only on the sounds that a patient needs to understand a conversation. It also helps the patient learn to “fill in the blanks” when faced with a garbled or missed word.
In general, aural rehabilitation has been found to be extremely effective, typically resulting in a 40 percent improvement in one’s ability to understand conversation in noisy environments. Furthermore, these improvements are permanent, although sometimes a refresher round of aural rehabilitation can help to maintain one’s skills.
Interestingly, aural rehabilitation is not only beneficial to patients with hearing aids. Even people with good hearing can potentially improve their ability to function in loud environments by utilizing aural rehabilitation therapies and techniques.
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