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How Audiology Moved From Diagnostics to Rehabilitation Becoming a Good Listener
For me, audiology has always been about helping people. I entered into the field hopeful and excited, itching to learn everything I could to improve my future patients’ quality of life. But pretty early on, I hit a wall. The fact was, in 1989, audiology had become more of a diagnostic tool, than a means to solve actual problems in people’s real, daily lives. This shift was largely due to technological
improving the individual’s quality of life. You’ve likely filled this out as a new patient in our office. Today, Dr. Weinstein is Professor and Executive Officer of the Doctor of Audiology program at the City University of New York. Her original work was the breath of fresh air I needed, and her current work continues to be an inspiration for me. Now, many years later, I am fully dedicated to meeting the needs of my patients directly rather than just handing out diagnoses. I am fulfilling the original mission that got me into the field in the first place. Dr. Weinstein’s work helped inspire me to write my recent book, “Better Hearing With or Without Hearing Aids.” Using her perspective as a jumping-off point, in the book I explain the need for a collaborative rehabilitation process, between the patient and the professional. In fact, she even wrote a testimonial for the book in which she mentions her plans to assign it to her students! I do a lot of speaking events that deal with many of the issues I discuss in the book. Just a couple of months ago, I gave a talk titled “Why Hearing Aids Don’t Work.” You can imagine the kind of attention that title gets in a room full of people
progress. During and just after WWII, when audiology was “born”, helping service people cope with their hearing issues in practical ways was a vital part of the profession. But, later, as the science of diagnostics advanced rapidly, audiology moved away from this hands-on, helping approach, and into the realm of blips and bleeps. With the wealth of diagnostic technology came a profession-wide neglect of the human aspects involved in treating hearing loss. Audiologists were no longer focused on actually helping their patients solve problems as much as on diagnosing problems. While I was going to Columbia University, things began to change. Buzz began to build around a hearing handicap survey developed by audiology researcher, professor, and author Barbara Weinstein, Ph.D. When she was at Columbia University, I was immediately intrigued. The questionnaire she created — along with a collection of related data and statistics — was aimed squarely at uncovering real-life problems hearing loss caused for patients so those problems could be solved. Instead of just testing and diagnosing, Dr. Weinstein was proposing we ask better, more directed questions, and focus on actually
Dr. Larry giving a seminar.
who are coping with hearing difficulty! The truth is, if you prescribe a hearing aid and just send a patient off into the world, it’s likely that they won’t get a lot out of it. Overcoming the difficulties that hearing loss creates needs to be a much more holistic process. Though hearing aids are one component of that, they are just one tool that needs to be selected and used, and maintained properly — not the end-all be-all. As audiologists, we’re uniquely positioned to treat an often overlooked, but very instrumental part of a person’s well-being. Over the years, Dr. Weinstein helped me realize that it’s possible to step outside the confines of rote diagnostic testing, and into a place where I’m actually able to help people. I am so appreciative of all the inspiration and
support she’s given me. - We’re listening to you®.
– Lawrence Cardano, Au.D.
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