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Unaddressed Hearing Impairment: A Link to Cognitive Strain and Brain Changes Revealed by New Study

At True Self Speech Therapy, we understand the intricate connection between hearing health and cognitive well-being. Recent research conducted by experts from UC San Diego and Kaiser Permanente has shed light on the relationship between hearing difficulties, cognitive load, and changes in the brain observable through MRI scans.

This groundbreaking study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, involved 130 participants from the Rancho Bernardo Study of Healthy Aging, with an average age of 76.4 years and comprising 65% women. These individuals underwent hearing threshold assessments during clinic visits between 2003 and 2005, followed by MRI scans between 2014 and 2016.

The findings unveiled a compelling association: hearing impairment might trigger alterations in brain regions involved in sound processing and attention. The researchers noted that the additional effort exerted to comprehend sounds could induce brain changes, potentially elevating the risk of dementia.

Principal investigator Linda K. McEvoy, a professor emeritus at UC San Diego's Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and a senior investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, emphasized the significance of interventions to alleviate the cognitive strain linked to understanding speech. These interventions include practical solutions like utilizing subtitles for TV shows and movies, employing live captioning or speech-to-text applications, wearing hearing aids, and choosing quieter environments for conversations instead of noisy spaces.

At True Self Speech Therapy, we recognize the importance of proactive steps in maintaining optimal cognitive health. Our approach emphasizes not only speech therapy but also the integration of assistive technologies and environmental adjustments to ease the cognitive load for individuals facing hearing challenges. By adopting strategies that reduce cognitive effort in speech comprehension, we strive to safeguard brain health and lower the risk of dementia.

If you or a loved one are experiencing hearing difficulties or seeking guidance on maintaining cognitive wellness through improved speech comprehension, True Self Speech Therapy is here to support you. Contact us today to explore how our tailored approach can enhance your quality of life and cognitive well-being.

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