PORTLAND, OR--(Marketwire - Jun 11, 2012) - As walkers join Tour de Tinnitus cyclists to cross the finish line on June 16, there is new hope for the 16 million people in the U.S. with the constant ringing in the ears of chronic tinnitus and approximately 29,000 sufferers in Portland.
Through the June fundraiser and ongoing support from private donors, the American Tinnitus Association continues to direct all funds toward research for treatment and a cure. One ATA research grant to the University of California, Irvine has helped produce a novel sound therapy system called Serenade® now available from Silicon Valley startup SoundCure™.
Several decades ago, ATA cofounder Jack Vernon developed the first-ever sound therapy system by applying white noise and other constant tones to mask the patient's tinnitus. Today, Serenade offers a proprietary, customized, softer volume S-Tone® that is frequency pitch-matched for each patient, and is modulated at a specific rate that researchers say stimulates brain activity in the auditory cortex to reduce the patient's perception of tinnitus.
"SoundCure's Serenade is an example of an ATA-funded research project producing a unique and viable treatment for people with tinnitus," said Jennifer Born, ATA's public affairs director. "Since the early '80s most sound therapy programs have applied the same principles, essentially masking the patient's perceived tinnitus. No one in the hearing health community had ever tried low frequency modulated sounds before, and the UCI team showed that this approach does work."
"While a large percentage of the world has some form of tinnitus, the most severe chronic sufferers live with a constant piercing sound 24/7 that can render them completely disabled," said Bill Perry, SoundCure CEO. "What we've been able to develop with Serenade is a customized sound therapy device with amplitude-modulated sounds that addresses each patient's unique tinnitus to provide relief."
New Sound Therapy Comes as Surprise
Experimenting with new tones in sound therapy began at UC Irvine's Center for Hearing Research Center under director Dr. Fan-Gang Zeng, in an effort to treat a rock musician and audio engineer with sudden onset hearing loss and severe tinnitus. After months of failed attempts to relieve the musician's tinnitus using customary high pitched tones, the UCI research team finally tried low rate stimulation, and was surprised to discover that his tinnitus abated for the first time in two years.
Following this significant clinical breakthrough, the UCI team applied for the ATA grant to study the effects of softer, modulated sounds on a group of tinnitus patients.
The results, published in the Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology (April 2012), showed that the amplitude modulated sounds were four times more likely to offer a reduction in tinnitus perception than white noise, and were the most effective of all the tested treatment sounds. Researchers concluded that "modulated sounds should be used because they may be more effective in reducing hyperactive neural activities associated with tinnitus."
The SoundCure Serenade Tinnitus Treatment System, which launched in March 2012, includes customized, amplitude modulated treatment tones, and consists of a handheld device to generate the sound therapy, earphones and three types of treatment sounds, making it a comprehensive sound therapy approach. For more information visit www.soundcure.com.