Improving Hearing with Sound Therapy
Hearing loss can result from a wide variety of factors. Regardless of the cause, people of all ages - including those in their 80s - have experienced dramatic improvement in their hearing by using Sound Therapy, based on the work of ear specialist Dr Tomatis.
There are many contributing causes to hearing problems. Some of the more common ones include:
- Cochlear damage due to prolonged exposure to loud noise ("noise induced hearing loss" or "industrial deafness").
- Lack of high frequency sound to stimulate the ear.
- Lack of good muscle tone in the middle ear, caused by stress or poor diet.
- Poor central auditory processing
- Psychological factors - not wanting to hear, and thus shutting down the ability to communicate.
- Otosclerosis - overgrowth of the cochlear bone which results in fusing the stapes to the cochlea.
Hearing loss is not inevitable with age. Young people who listen to rock music often have the same hearing level as 50 year old factory workers.
Photo courtesy of mystical child (my time is not my own)
Types of hearing loss
Conductive hearing loss refers to any disorder in the sound transmission system in the middle ear, which includes both bones and muscles. Sometimes surgery is required to rectify the problem. Sound Therapy can be used after an operation, for post-operative rehabilitation of the ear muscles, or if surgery is not required, it can be used to exercise the muscles.
Sensorineural hearing loss refers to damage which has occurred inside the inner ear. Loud or prolonged noise flattens the fine, hair-like sensor cells (called "cilia") in the inner ear, which means they can't pick up sound vibrations anymore. This prevents the sound from reaching the auditory nerve. A diagnosis of nerve deafness does not necessarily mean that the nerve is damaged - it may be that the cilia have been flattened.
Early in his research, ear specialist Dr Alfred Tomatis discovered that the results of hearing tests varied greatly depending on the subject's motivation to demonstrate a good or bad level of hearing. He discovered a voluntary, though unconscious, element to our ability to hear.
How Sound Therapy can alleviate hearing loss
Sound Therapy International programs use classical music that has been filtered through a specialist device - the Electronic Ear designed by ear specialist Dr Tomatis - using specific algorithms and activation filters so that it becomes a concentrated program to stimulate the entire auditory system for natural hearing improvement.
The Research of Dr Tomatis
As his initial concern was with hearing loss, Dr Tomatis' first experiments dealt with altering the auditory curve. Tomatis designed an apparatus, called the "Electronic Ear", which could manipulate the frequencies of sounds so it could match a sound to a person's auditory curve, or vice versa, it could boost the deficient frequencies to enable someone to hear as a normal ear would hear.
The repair that he was able to achieve initially was only temporary. Continuing his experiments, Tomatis discovered that if treatment with the Electronic Ear is carried out consistently over a certain number of hours and period of time, the effects become permanent.
The secret to achieving the permanent reparation of hearing lies in the gymnastic effect of the Electronic Ear upon the hearing mechanism. The Electronic Ear does more than simply present a corrected sound scope to the ear - it presents fluctuating sounds, alternating through high and low channels so that the ear is constantly forced to adjust between high and low tones. This gymnasticises the middle ear muscles, giving the ear a complete work-out in the act of listening. The muscles thus regain their natural tone, which accounts on a physical level for the improved hearing.
A gym work-out for your ears
Whether congenital or acquired, physical or emotional, hearing may improve through Sound Therapy. The Sound Therapy listening program gives a complete work out to the ear muscles, cilia, auditory pathway and auditory cortex.
Unlike compensating with a hearing aid, Sound Therapy improves the function of the natural ear, addressing the root causes of hearing loss, so is useful for both those with and without hearing aids. Because it activates the ear muscles, Sound Therapy improves the focusing function of the ear and improves central auditory processing.
Sound Therapy offers a great alternative for treating hearing loss as it:
- assists with hearing in a noisy room, whereas hearing aids often make this worse
- tunes up high frequency hearing, making speech comprehension easier
- is a natural approach, improving the body's own function rather than compensating with a device
- may eliminate or delay the need for hearing aids in mild cases of hearing loss
Here's how Sound Therapy can help improve some of the main causes of hearing problems:
Exercising the muscles
The middle ear contains two tiny muscles - the tensor tympani and the stapedius - which play an active role in the functioning of the ear. Lack of tone and flexibility in these muscles means that the ear loses its ability to recognise certain frequencies of sound, so these sounds never reach the inner ear.
The alternating high and low frequencies of Sound Therapy cause the ear muscles to repeatedly tense and relax. This exercise restores muscle tone and improves the functioning of the whole ear mechanism.
Learn more about how Sound Therapy rehabilitates the ear.
Stimulating the cilia
Listeners with sensorineural hearing loss have had measurable improvement as a result of Sound Therapy, so it is believed that the function of the hair cells and the auditory nerve may be improved by the high frequency sounds. In many cases the hair cells will have been damaged, but not destroyed and some improvement may be possible with the right stimulus.
On the Sound Therapy programs, the low frequency sounds are progressively removed and the high frequency sounds are augmented. These high frequencies stimulate the cilia.
Where the cilia have been flattened, but not destroyed, by too much noise, the high frequency sound stimulates them to return to their upright position. This restores one's hearing in the high frequencies.
Learn more about how Sound Therapy rehabilitates the ear.
Correcting Central Auditory Processing
Central auditory processing is the ability of the brain to sort and make sense of different, simultaneous auditory inputs.
Listening is not the same as hearing; it involves directing our ears to actively tune in to selected sounds. A person who cannot tune in some sounds and tune out others will be unable to follow a conversation in a noisy environment. This may be an auditory processing problem rather than a hearing problem, and is known as the "Cocktail Party Syndrome".
The ear is the end organ through which the auditory parts of the brain can be stimulated. The organised harmonic structure of classical music with its stimulating effect, further enhanced by the activation introduced by the filtering algorithms on Dr Tomatis' "Electronic Ear", has proved an effective way to increase neural efficiency in processing sound.
Sound Therapy activates numerous language centres and builds more efficient connections between the right ear and the left brain hemisphere, which houses the auditory and language processing centres.
Learn more about how Sound Therapy stimulates the brain.
Hearing is sometimes closed down to some extent for psychological reasons. Sound Therapy encourages resolution of psychological issues by reintroducing high frequency sound and re-creating the pre-birth experience of sound. As the psychological issues are resolved, one can allow oneself to open to the full range of hearing.
Learn more about what Dr Tomatis called the opening of the ear.
Want to learn more before trying Sound Therapy for your hearing problem?
The book Sound Therapy: Music to Recharge Your Brain details the history of Sound Therapy and how sound can be used to enhance auditory pathways and improve brain function.
Updated in late 2009, it includes the most recent updates on related research include neuroplasticity.
How to use Sound Therapy to improve your hearing
These Sound Therapy programs are clinically proven, used in hundreds of clinics for over 60 years, and available in a portable format for over 25 years.
You can use a Sound Therapy International program in the comfort of your own home - there is no need to travel to a clinic for regular treatment, though follow ups including hearing tests with a qualified consultant and audiometrist are available through Sound Therapy Perth if you would like someone to assist you.
Using Sound Therapy to improve your hearing is simply a matter of putting the headphones on and listening to your Sound Therapy program at a low volume. Sound Therapy is like physiotherapy for your ears, and as such, it takes time and regular exercising of your ear muscles and stimulation of your auditory system for improvement to happen. Persistance is essential.
If you already have a hearing aid, Sound Therapy can help you use your aids more successfully. Some hearing aid users get such significant improvement from Sound Therapy that they no longer need their aids. We recommend that you do some of your listening with the aid in, and some without.
Which Sound Therapy International Program should I use?
For hearing loss, the best Sound Therapy program to start with is the Listening Foundation Program. For most, this program is all they need to successfully restore their hearing.
For those that need more help, Advanced programs are available to move onto after using a Level 1 program for at least 300 hours. For hearing loss, choose the Natural Hearing Improvement series.
It comes with a comprehensive manual, training DVDs, Sound Therapy book, and 3 month listener support via email. Face-to-face consultations and hearing tests incur an additional consultation fee unless you participate in the hearing research study.
Listener Success Stories
- Some time ago I said I hadn’t benefited much from sound therapy yet, blaming my age and the stubborn resistance of blocked Eustachian tubes over many years. But now that I have listened to Level 2 for almost three months I have found that I have very little tinnitus, my hearing without hearing aids has improved, and my hearing aids give a clearer sound, not muddy or harsh, as they did at first. I can play the piano using hearing aids or using headphones (it’s a good quality digital piano), and can enjoy it both ways. I can also attend live concerts with much less discomfort than previously. So I have ordered Level 3 and look forward to further improvements. I like the fact that I can trust the music to be good quality and the right level of stimulation.
- Doris Rowland
25 January 2013
- Dear Simone,
- Thank you for all your support and great advice, I have managed to finally sit down and provide some feedback since commencing sound therapy. (commenced 12th April)
- I have stuck to your program to the letter so to speak, combined with consulting a Chinese Acupuncturist I have already regained my hearing in my right ear and the tinnitus is greatly reduced.
- Rob H
Perth, Western Australia
27 April 2012
- Well 6 months in at 5-6 hrs a day. I have been wearing hearing aids for 6 months, but decided to do a little experiment.
- Took the aids out while I was watching TV and my partner turned the TV volume up and down without me seeing the volume number. It was amazing to realise that the volume I used to have it was always 24-28 but now (without aids) I can listen comfortably at 16!!!!!
- We tried this exp a few times during the week, always the same. (My partner was always complaing how loud I had the TV.) LOL
- Fantastic Simone!
- Pete M
30 May 2011
- While working on the Basic Kit, my hearing has noticeably improved, and I have moments of improvement with my tinnitus.
- Burt K
Oakland, California, USA
10 June 2009
- I have been listening since Thursday (4 days). Interestingly enough, I had the volume on 2-3 because I could *just* hear it at that level and now I've turned it down to "1" because I can now *just* hear it at that level (now number "1" sounds the same sound level as "2" or "3" did).
- Also, I went out to dinner last night to friends' house and normally I have trouble with dinner table conversations where there is more than one or two people and the only way I can manage is to turn my head to face each person when they speak (sometimes I'm too slow or sometimes people speak over one another and I'm lost!) but last night I did that a bit less than normal once I worked out I didn't need to do it so much. I still missed bits of conversation a couple of times (because what they said didn't make sense so I may have missed an important word here or there) but it was better than it has been in the past.
- Debbie B
9 February 2009
- The benefits overall (after 300 hours) were that my tinnitus did decrease in volume and my sleeping improved. Also my hearing seems to have gone back to normal and I can talk to people in crowded places again.
- B Boyd
Perth, Western Australia
18 January 2009
- I lost 10% of my hearing by the age of 7 because of repeated ear infections. I then started playing the electronic organ at the age of 8 and always practised with it turned right up loud, despite repeated protests from my mother that I would damage my hearing. When I wasn't playing the organ I was listening to loud rock music on my walkman or cassette player in my room. By my teens, I had developed nois induced hearing loss, and a hearing test when I was 20 revealed that my hearing was worse than a 50 year old. The ENT specialist I saw told me nothing could be done, and to try not to make it any worse.
- I stumbled across Sound Therapy when I was 26 when I found the book Sound Therapy: Music to Recharge Your Brain in a bookstore. I noticed positive changes with my sleep on the very first night, and within the first month I was having to turn the volume down, as what used to be soft for me was now uncomfortably loud!
- I listened to Sound Therapy for 6 months all together. In that time I no longer had to constantly ask people to repeat themselves on the phone, my
hearing improved enormously, and my tinnitus, which I had had constantly since age 14, had completed disappeared!
- See Simone's full story.
Perth, Western Australia
- After a hearing test 3 years ago, I was fitted with hearing aids, which proved helpful. After several months the tinnitus in the right ear was so strong that the aid was useless.
- When I learned about Sound Therapy I purchased the book which I found fascinating, so I tried the program. For several months I persevered with the treatment and I now realise my hearing has improved so that I can now do without the aids.
- This was confirmed recently when I was examined by an ear, nose and throat specialist, who said that I had the hearing of a woman of 40 - I am 87! Now I can hear the Bell Birds unaided.
- Gladys Irwin
West Pennant Hills, New South Wales, Australia
- I have a noticeable improvement in hearing and need less volume on my Walkman all the time.
- Ed Rohner
- Before I began using the Sound Therapy tapes my hearing was becoming progressively worse. Ear specialists told me it was caused by nerve damage, therefore there was nothing which could be done for me. They said the ringing in my ears would become louder as time went on, thereby reducing my ability to hear.
- I purchased an 'in the ear model' hearing aid after I found their predictions to be correct. My hearing did indeed deteriorate. I found I had to wear the hearing aid more and more as time went on, to a point where I was wearing it 80% of the time.
- After about 3 weeks of beginning the Sound Therapy, the ringing in my ears began to subside. Along with that my hearing also began to improve. One day I felt something almost like a minor earthquake taking place deep within my ears. Since then my hearing has improved to such an extent that I seldom have to use my hearing aid. I am able to function quite well without it now, after 7 months of Sound Therapy.
- Dan Stuckel
- After less than sixty hours of listening, suddenly, incredibly, new sounds were singing in my ears. I had assumed I'd always heard them, but it is amazing how much we hear, yet do not hear.
- I am now acutely conscious of sound, all sound, including my own voice which I can now control. Octavizing up or down is now easily accomplished. It is the sound therapy that has gifted me with this new awareness.
- Linda Taylor Anderson
- The beauty of the treatment is that I don't have to listen to the music. Often I am almost unaware of it... It is my intention to keep on listening and continue to enjoy better hearing.
- Robert Lindstrom
- In the early part of 1989, I began to suffer from Tinnitus and only by mid 1989 had received medical advice that nothing could be done about it. I read the Sound Therapy book from cover to cover at least four times, and each time put it down - convinced that it was just too good to be true.
- I mentioned it to a member of our local library, who told me that her daughter was using the tapes and "wished that she had started 2 years earlier." So I decided to try them, without any great hopes or expectations.
- I had been listening for approximately 100 hours when I suddenly became aware that the Tinnitus whistle had stopped - I wasn't sure WHEN it stopped - but it had. Since then I have periodically been aware of the whistle but by relaxing my head muscles for about 2 minutes - it disappears.
- About the same time I noticed distinct improvement in hearing to my left ear - there had been noticeable loss in that ear for about 3 years.
- I had a client who served in the Royal Navy during the last War - in Gun turrets on board ships in action. His hearing was affected to the extent
that one had to raise ones voice when conversing with him. After my hearing improvement I started talking to him about Sound Therapy - and eventually
found him with his Walkman and tapes. A few weeks later I received a phone call at 11 p.m. one evening. It was my client - and his message was that
"I thought I would ring and let you know that I have just heard my wife's Microwave 'BEEP' for the first time." 'Nuff said!
- I do not know what response others will get from the tapes. I can only say that I have been VERY, VERY satisfied.
- Flick Evans
Somers, Victoria, Australia