Tinnitus affects approximately 15 percent of the population, and roughly 80 percent of tinnitus sufferers also have some treatable hearing loss. As hearing loss is increasingly identified and diagnosed, this trend is most likely to continue and grow, putting tinnitus on the horizon of standard audiology practice. Still, many clinicians feel overwhelmed about tinnitus and its treatment.
Michael Piskosz, M.S., and Norma Mraz, Au.D. discussed at the 2013 AudiologyNOW! conference strategies and best practices for organizing and running a successful tinnitus clinic. Here are some key take-aways from their presentation.
Both the audiologists and the clinic have a role to play in providing successful tinnitus care:
- The audiologist can provide professional knowledge, causes and different solutions, as well as appropriate counseling including setting realistic expectations and use of sound.
- Employees should be knowledgeable and familiar with common terms. Referral training is also important.
- Make sure to educate your referral sources on your clinic services.
- A strong working network of specialists to assist and to refer to when appropriate is also important in a tinnitus clinic.
Mr. Piskosz and Ms. Mraz also provided the following tinnitus treatment best practices:
- Treatment should be structured, but flexible.
- Patience – treatments take time and not everyone will progress at the same pace.
- Tinnitus can seriously affect some people’s lives be attentive and sympathetic.
- Be encouraging about tinnitus treatments but truthful. Expectations must be realistic.
- Be sure to use outcome measures.
- Have a goal. Patients need to understand how to successfully use sound in their environment.
- Create a treatment plan you are confident in.
- Develop a strong network of specialists, because not all tinnitus aspects are audiology-related.
- Stay on top of new research and products regarding tinnitus.
Finally, develop a protocol – from consultation to sound therapy to follow up procedures.