Marie-Soleil Houde, Maxime Maheu, Lydia Bethani, Audrey Delcenserie, Tony Leroux and Francois Champoux
Universite de Montreal, Canada
Posters & Accepted Abstracts: J Neurol Neurophysiol
Postural control is a complex task that requires the integration of multiple sensory inputs. Long-term deprivation of a sensory modality can modify the relative importance of these inputs in a context of postural control. Indeed, reduced postural control has been reported in hearing-impaired individuals. These impacts on postural control are reflected by the increased risk of falls. If a strong relationship exists between an increased risk of falls and decreased auditory ability, auditory amplification through hearing aids may be an effective preventative tool. If only a few studies have investigated the effect of hearing aids on postural control, they clearly suggest that hearing aids do improve postural control. However, the large prevalence of vestibular impairment in hearing-impaired individuals could be an important confounding factor that was not taken into account by these previous studies. Thus, the aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of hearing aids on postural control in deaf individuals with and without vestibular impairment. 14 controls and 18 hearing-impaired participants were evaluated while performing a static postural task with and without hearing aids. Prior to postural control assessment, each participant underwent a complete vestibular evaluation. The results suggest that hearing aids improve postural control in challenging conditions but is only beneficial to deaf individuals with concomitant vestibular impairment. The reduced postural sway within this group may be linked to a reduced somatosensory dependence when participants wear hearing aids.
Marie-Soleil Houde completed a Master degree in Health Sciences at the University of Ottawa in 2004. She is currently the Lab Coordinator for the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory of the University of Montreal and work as a Clinical Audiologist at a Rehabilitation Center in Quebec.