Here is the Dr. Oden’s column as it appeared in the May 2017 Senior Savvy.

May is Better Hearing Month!  As promised last month, I would like to share with you the wonderful experience I had at the American Academy of Audiology conference that was held in Indianapolis in April.

Reconnecting with friends and colleagues is always a pleasure but this year’s sessions were filled with a plethora of new information.  I was able to complete 18 hours of continuing education.  That meant of a lot of sitting and for those that know me that is a difficult task.  To maintain my board certification I am required to complete more continuing education hours than North Carolina requires.  I was pleased to log in 15 Tier-1 hours, 3 of which were in Ethical Practices towards my board certification.

Arriving Wednesday I arrived in time to attend a 3 hour session on Medicare Guidelines and Coding.  Remember, Medicare only covers diagnostic audiometric evaluations completed by an audiologist that are medically necessary and when a referral from a physician, physician’s assistance or nurse practitioner is received.  Definitely want to get it right when filing a claim with Medicare.

Thursday morning’s key note presenter was Shelly Chadha, MBBS, MS, PhD, Medical Officer with the World Health Organization (WHO).  She is from the University of Delhi, India.  She spoke about WHO program for Prevention of Deafness and Hearing Loss.  This is a huge initiative especially considering the vast rural areas world-wide that do not have access to audiology or medical services.  She was a fabulous presenter.

I was introduced to work of Curtis Alcock several years ago and watched his YouTube videos when he spoke at the International Conference on Hearing Loss in 2012.  I was so excited that he was at our convention and spoke after Dr. Chadha.  He is an audiologist from the UK.  The title of his presentation was “The Science of Being Repulsive”.  Quite an odd title for a session at an audiologist conference.  He has helped me rephrase how I talk about hearing challenges.  We scare people aware when we talk about hearing loss. My patients do not have “hearing loss” they just have sounds that are no longer in their hearing range.  It is my responsibility to get those sound back into their hearing range so speech can be understood.   This may or may not be done with the use of hearing technology.  He is funny and very accurate in message.

I was thrilled to see work being done on replacing the standard word recognition test in quiet that we currently use with speech in noise testing.  Jane and I do speech-in-noise testing in the office However it is not the gold standard nor reimbursed by insurance.

Additionally, a clinical test is in the works that measures cognitive energy needed for speech understanding.  We talked last month about the importance of working memory.  I am hopeful to have this tool available soon.  It will help us explain why some folks do so well with hearing technology while others continue to struggle.  It will also help us set appropriate expectations when developing a hearing rehabilitation plan.

The last session I attended Saturday morning was on cerumen management.  Wax removal falls within our scope of practice.  I have been cleaning ears for years but it is always good to review the last techniques and see what new equipment is available.  I know my limits and will refer to ENT when needed.

The conference was not all sitting and learning.  My college buddy Maria and I attended the Indianapolis Indians baseball game.  Their stadium is right across the street from the convention center which was convenient.  The Indians are in the same division as our Charlotte Knights and beat the Toledo Mud Hens.  We are still trying to figure out what a Mud Hen is.

Dr. Oden ran her first 5k in nearly 10 years while attending an audiology conference.In 2008 the audiology conference was in the Charlotte.  That year they scheduled a 5K run at Freedom Park that I ran.  I was running much more then but due to a foot injury and arthritis in the hips I stopped.  The convention center in Indianapolis is adjacent to the White River State Park so they scheduled another 5K.  When I saw this I was determined I would run that race as well.  The foot is better; the hip pain comes and goes.

The registration fee for the run was a donation the Audiology Foundation which provides support for education, research and public awareness of audiology and hearing science.  So at 6 o’clock Thursday morning, in the dark, 40 degree windy morning I completed the run.  Meeting one of two goals, I was quite proud.

Beth, Jane and I would be proud if you would help us celebrate May is Better Hearing month by calling 704-633-0223 to schedule an appointment.  We look forward to seeing you soon.