An Objective Audiological Test-Battery

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Medical and Human Sciences

Abstract

Hearing loss affects over 9 million people in the UK; 20,000 of these are children and infants for whom early diagnosis of hearing loss is crucial for their further development, and thus for providing them with the best possible start in life. Currently, hearing assessment of infants, and of children and adults with special needs is difficult, if not impossible, and highly time-consuming. Patients need to attend several long testing sessions at the Audiology Clinics, and yet comprehensive diagnosis is not always possible.

With our advanced objective audiological test-battery, testing of infants, and of children and adults with special needs, will be made fast, easy and comprehensive. One testing session will be required to deliver full diagnosis and advise the patient on the best possible management of their hearing loss.

Furthermore, our test-battery has the potential to replace current procedures routinely used in the Audiology clinics with patients who do not have any special needs. Not all hearing losses are the same. The damage may be located in different parts of the auditory system, which often requires completely different support, management and intervention. With the current procedures routinely used in Audiology clinics, it is very difficult to distinguish between those different hearing losses and consequently patients are not receiving the support, management and intervention they require. Our test-battery will overcome this problem of distinguishing between different types of hearing losses and will allow for fast and detailed diagnosis to be made. Thus the development of our test-battery may be critical for the future management of hearing of over 15% of the UK population.

This project aims to create an automated, advanced, and objective audiological test-battery that will allow for:
1. Fast and reliable diagnosis of hearing loss in infants and in children and adults with special needs
2. Advanced assessment of hearing in anyone who experiences hearing difficulties

Technical Summary

There are 9 million adults and 20,000 children in the UK who suffer from hearing loss [2]. Each year 950 infants are born in the UK with significant hearing impairment, and 40% of adults and 60% of children with special needs have hearing loss. However, accurate diagnosis of the type and extent of their hearing impairment is very challenging if not impossible, as these patients are often unable to provide behavioural responses. An alternative to behavioural testing may be objective recording of physiological responses, and recent technological advances now open up the possibility of performing a comprehensive diagnosis using these techniques.

This project aims to create an automated, advanced objective audiological test-battery, critical for fast and reliable diagnosis of hearing disorders in infants and children and adults with special needs. Additionally, the battery has the potential to replace the behavioural hearing tests currently employed in conventional audiometry for all patients, leading to better diagnosis and improved outcomes. The test-battery will include techniques currently restricted to research settings or those carried out in expert centres by highly trained personnel. The proposed program will thus deliver cutting edge techniques and standard analysis integrated into one test platform.
 
Description Postgraduate teaching
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description postgraduate teaching
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description DPFS, Ref. G1001517, Grant ID: 100276
Amount £548,223 (GBP)
Funding ID G1001517 
Organisation Medical Research Council (MRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2012 
End 07/2015
 
Description NIHR Biomedical Research Centre
Amount £28,500,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Leicester 
Department NIHR Biomedical Research Centre
Sector Hospitals
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2018 
End 03/2022
 
Description Interacoustics 
Organisation Interacoustics A/S
PI Contribution We have established a close collaboration with Industrial partner who specialises in development and commercialisation of new objective assessment methods of hearing. We provide Intellectual Property and access to clinical populations for validation of the developed methods.
Collaborator Contribution The industrial partner provides technical expertise and necessary equipment.
Impact The outputs so far include Conference presentations and posters.
Start Year 2016
 
Title Development of an objective audiological test-battery 
Description The development of objective audiological test-battery (OATB) has been supported by the MRC DPFS, the project ends at in February 2014. Our team has been developing the OATB and testing it with normally hearing and hearing-impaired subjects. Currently we are continuing testing and discussing terms of collaboration with the industrial partner. 
Type Diagnostic Tool - Non-Imaging
Current Stage Of Development Initial development
Year Development Stage Completed 2013
Development Status Under active development/distribution
Clinical Trial? Yes
Impact The OATB is still under development. It has been tested on a sample of normally hearing and hearing-impaired subjects in laboratory conditions only. Discussions are being held with the industrial partner to implement our OATB into a clinical device that could be tested in the clinics. 
URL http://public.ukcrn.org.uk/Search/StudyDetail.aspx?StudyID=9279
 
Description British Society of Audiology Annual Conference, 5-7 September 2012, Nottingham. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Scientific meeting (conference/symposium etc.)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Poster Presentation
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Health professionals
Results and Impact 500 health professionals and researchers visited the poster

Health professionals were very interested in our project and would like to use the product once available for the clinics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description IHCON 
Form Of Engagement Activity Scientific meeting (conference/symposium etc.)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Poster Presentation
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Over 100 researchers and industry representatives attended the poster presentation and expressed great interest in the new presented method of objective hearing assessment.

Contacts with possible industrial partners who expressed interest in being involved in the second stage of the development (hardware) of our proposed hearing testing method.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description NHBRU 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact The presentation was given to the researchers of Nottingham Hearing Biomedical Research Unit. About 30 researchers and clinicians attended the talk. The talk was followed by a long discussion session on the possible developments and collaborations on the subject of objective hearing assessment.

Development of new ideas and collaborations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Objective Measures in Auditory Implants, 19-22 September 2012, Amsterdam 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Poster Presentation
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact about 400 researchers visited the poster

the research community expressed their interest in our product
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012