Dr. Jahn was invited to speak about hyperacusis at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Convention in Boston, MA (November 15-18). ASHA is a foremost professional, scientific, and credentialing association for audiologists and speech-language-pathologists in the United States (US). The Convention brings together approximately 15,000 clinicians, scientists, and students for sessions that cover the latest research, clinical skills, and techniques across the field of communication sciences and disorders. You can visit these links to learn more about ASHA (https://www.asha.org/) and the annual Convention (https://convention.asha.org/ ).
Dr. Jahn’s presentation primarily addressed the lack of a consensus definition, sensitive diagnostic tools, and standardized clinical protocols for hyperacusis. She illuminated this point by discussing data from her recent publication where she surveyed more than 100 audiologists across the US to understand their current knowledge and clinical protocols surrounding hyperacusis diagnosis and management (Jahn and Koach, 2023). That study found that hyperacusis definitions and clinical practice patterns vary widely across US audiologists. The audiologists reported several barriers to effective clinical management of hyperacusis, including a lack of education and training, time constraints, poor reimbursement for clinical services related to hyperacusis, and poor sensitivity/specificity of available diagnostic tools.
Dr. Jahn explained how we can better utilize the clinical tools that we have available now as we await the development of more sensitive biomarkers for hyperacusis. She emphasized the importance of clinical interviews for patients who cannot tolerate sound-evoked testing. In doing so, she showed preliminary data from a recent qualitative study on noxacusis so that the attendees could understand more about what it feels like to live with sound-induced pain. She used direct (anonymous) quotes from people with noxacusis to emphasize that some patients cannot tolerate testing that involves sound, and that they should not be pressured to proceed with those tests given the lack of sensitive diagnostic criteria. Finally, she showed data from several studies to emphasize that loudness perception test results (e.g., loudness discomfort levels and loudness growth) vary considerably across people with and without hyperacusis (Sheldrake et al., 2015; Jahn et al., 2022), reminding everyone that loudness perception testing in and of itself is not sensitive to the presence or absence of hyperacusis.
Dr. Jahn was grateful for the opportunity to share her work on hyperacusis, and especially noxacusis, with her colleagues at the ASHA Convention. At the Convention, she also received the Early Career Contributions in Research Award, showing that her hyperacusis work is recognized and appreciated by others in the field. While not related to hyperacusis, Neuroaudiology Lab member, Karlee Doak, also presented a research poster on gender-related biases in the field of communication sciences and disorders, and she won the Audiology/Hearing Science Research Travel Award. Karlee and Dr. Jahn are pictured here in front of Karlee’s poster.
Ongoing work in Dr. Jahn’s lab focuses on several topics related to hyperacusis. She recently received a grant from the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program to study biomarkers of hyperacusis in autism. Although the autism grant focuses more on loudness hyperacusis, Dr. Jahn is continuing her qualitative work on noxacusis with the goal of designing studies to better characterize its underlying mechanisms without using sound stimuli. She also maintains a line of research in cochlear implants, where she aims to improve the devices by tailoring them to the unique needs of individual patients.
Jahn, K.N., Koach, C.E. (2023). Hyperacusis diagnosis and management in the United States: Clinical audiology practice patterns. American Journal of Audiology, 1-12. https://doi.org/10.1044/2023_AJA-23-00118
Sheldrake, J., Diehl, P.U., Schaette, R. (2015). Audiometric characteristics of hyperacusis patients. Frontiers in Neurology, 6, 105. https://doi.org/10.3389/fneur.2015.00105
Jahn, K.N., Hancock, K.E., Maison, S.F., Polley, D.B. (2022). Estimated cochlear neural degeneration is associated with loudness hypersensitivity in individuals with normal audiograms. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 2, 064403. https://doi.org/10.1121/10.0011694