January 29, 2015 12:38 ET

Study: Improved Hearing May Delay Onset of Mild Dementia

Preliminary findings suggest enhanced role for hearing healthcare professionals

PLYMOUTH, MINNESOTA--(Marketwired - Jan. 29, 2015) - Early findings in a new study by the University of North Texas and Unitron, a global innovator of advanced hearing solutions, suggest it may be possible to delay the onset of mild dementia by treating a hearing loss with hearing aids. The study is being conducted by Amyn M. Amlani, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Speech and Hearing Sciences at the University of North Texas, in partnership with Brian Taylor, Au.D., Director of Practice Development and Clinical Affairs at Unitron.

Researchers have already been able to show a reduction in cognitive decline among participants using hearing aids, suggesting new therapeutic potential for the devices. If conclusive, the findings could enhance the role of hearing healthcare professionals to include monitoring and assessing a patient's cognition in relation to his or her hearing.

"This study looks at whether improved hearing can improve cognitive functioning for people who have already been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia," said Dr. Amlani. "In particular, we want to understand whether better hearing can play a role in helping people with dementia lead more active and engaged lives, particularly if hearing loss is identified and treated early."

Previous studies have found that people with hearing loss are significantly more likely to develop dementia over time compared to those with normal hearing. But no data yet exists showing that dementia can actually be improved through the use of hearing aids.

"Given the expected sharp increase in dementia cases over the next few decades, our findings could have significant implications for aging individuals as they begin experiencing hearing loss," said Taylor. "Unitron is focused on providing solutions for healthcare providers so they can better serve their patients, and get them the treatment they need."

The study includes adults 50-90 years' of age with mild dementia who are inexperienced with amplification devices. It measures speech-recognition performance in noise, cognition and self-reported improvements in quality of life. The study is expected to be completed in late 2015.

About Unitron

Unitron is a global company that understands the hearing healthcare business is built on strong, personal relationships. We work closely with hearing healthcare professionals to improve the lives of people with hearing loss. A member of the Sonova Group, Unitron has a proven track record of developing hearing innovations that provide natural sound with exceptional speech understanding. Headquartered in Canada, Unitron distributes its full line of hearing instruments to customers in more than 60 countries. For more information, please visit us on the web at unitron.com/us.

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