Smartphone app relieves tinnitus for cochlear implants …: The Hearing Journal


People with hearing loss who use cochlear implants (CIs) are among those affected by tinnitus. However, IC users may not benefit as much from conventional tinnitus treatments such as sound therapy, especially when patients cannot use as many acoustic stimuli as people with conventional hearing.

A new study has shown that “[s]Sound therapy using a smartphone app can be effective for many tinnitus patients using CI. »Posted in American Journal of Audiology, the study “Using a smartphone app for cochlear implant patients with tinnitus” further found that most of its participants using CIs found the app acceptable as tinnitus relief for those with tinnitus. cochlear implant patients.


The study looked at the ReSound Tinnitus Relief app, which offers sound therapy using various types of sounds such as environmental sounds, static sounds, and music. Study participants were people with cochlear implants who reported varying degrees of tinnitus during a clinic visit. They were instructed to use the app in the lab and at home, choosing their own favorite sound within the app. They then rated the application each week in terms of reducing the volume and discomfort of the tinnitus.

“The results of the lab and home trials were consistent,” said study co-author Ann E. Perreau, PhD. The hearing diary. “In our lab test, we found that the application reduced the intensity of tinnitus for 11 of 18 people, which represented a significant reduction in the intensity of tinnitus based on the group assessments before and after therapy. sound. In the home trial, 8 of 14 participants reported a reduction in tinnitus intensity and no participant reported worsening tinnitus intensity.

“We found these results to be positive, as most of the participants (57%) used the app 2-3 hours per day during the home trial. We were not discouraged by this low use of the app, as patients with tinnitus do not need to constantly use sound therapy to benefit from it, ”added Perreau, assistant professor at the ‘University of Iowa.

The article also found that most of the participants’ word recognition scores were not adversely affected when they used their preferred sound for sound therapy.


The study noted, however, that there were “significant differences in the benefits and acceptance of the app among participants.”

According to Perreau, factors that affected patient acceptance of the app included “the inability to select useful sounds, low perceived benefit, low tinnitus severity, and poor word recognition scores.”

“For example, one participant dropped out of the study because he couldn’t find useful sounds for his tinnitus. Other participants experienced a significant reduction in word recognition ability. Others have reported that tinnitus is not bothersome enough to use sound therapy. These problems are not uncommon when working with patients with tinnitus, ”she added.

In order to maximize the benefits of sound therapy applications for patients, the researchers emphasized the value of tinnitus counseling.

“Our recommendation is to provide advice, such as tinnitus treatment, to patients with tinnitus, beyond simple sound therapy,” Perreau said. “Appropriate counseling can address a patient’s individual concerns and provide realistic expectations of how to benefit from these treatments. “

Audiologists also have a role to play in improving their patients’ tinnitus sound therapy. “Audiologists should recommend a sound and level of tinnitus masking that does not interfere with speech perception,” the document said.

“When recommending sound therapy from an app, it is important that audiologists provide several options for background noise and allow patients to choose the one that is most helpful for their tinnitus,” explained Perreau. “The most preferred sounds were ocean waves, pink noise, and the waterfall, so a combination of static and modulated sounds should be offered. We also found that word recognition scores were not adversely affected by the use of sound therapy, but this should be monitored for each patient as some people may experience decreased speech perception abilities.

“Choosing sound therapy for patients with HF can be difficult because they don’t always hear sounds the way a patient would with hearing aids. Particular care should be taken when providing low-level sound that is not disturbing or distracting and does not interfere with the perception of speech. It is important to give them options. We recommend that audiologists provide their patients with a positive outlook and guidance so that patients know that apps are just one tool among many in relieving their tinnitus.

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