Local audiologist helps bring hearing to Dominican children

ST. GEORGE  Advanced Hearing & Balance Specialists Audiologist Dr. Brittany Garcia, traveled with a team of audiologists to the Dominican Republic to provide hearing health care to children. The goal was to bring hearing health care services such as hearing evaluations and fit children with hearing devices. They evaluated the hearing of dozens of children, made earmolds and fit more than 41 hearing aids and several bone conduction hearing devices.

“I was grateful to be part of an experience in giving people back sound,” Garcia said. “Seeing a child light up at being able to hear their parents for the first time is priceless.”

The team partnered with the foundation Oir Para Vivir in the Dominican Republic to designate schools that need hearing evaluations performed as well as identifying individual children who have a known hearing loss. The team collected donations from various hearing device companies such as Oticon, GN Resound, Oticon Medical and Fuel Medical to distribute to the children. A hearing aid costs more than 25 percent of the average annual household income and there is no access through health insurance or government resources for those living in the Dominican Republic.

The team was comprised of alumni from Utah State University and included Garcia; Dr. Joe Dansie, Au.D., from Peak ENT; Dr. Sarah Cordingley, from Peak ENT; Dr. Curtis Thomas, from Peak ENT; Johnny Foster, from the US Air Force; and Dr. Dan Keller, from Fuel Medical.

Of the more than 360 million people worldwide who have a disabling hearing loss, 32 million are children. Even though hearing loss can be a natural consequence of growing older, most cases of hearing loss are caused by exposure to loud noise. In children, hearing loss may occur as a result of genetics or as a permanent side effect from another condition such as an infectious disease. Treatment such as hearing devices is recommended once permanent hearing loss has occurred.

Even though most cases of hearing loss can be treated with wearable or implanted hearing devices, access to hearing devices is limited in developing countries due to availability or cost. If left untreated, hearing loss can lead to speech delays, depression and cognitive decline. Helping children hear early ensures the opportunity for successful futures in academics and the workplace.

Signs of hearing loss include thinking that people are mumbling, difficulty hearing in noisy settings, turning up the TV or music louder than others need it, asking people to repeat themselves and speech delays in children. Healthy hearing begins with a hearing exam to determine if an individual has hearing loss.

For more than 40 years, Advanced Hearing & Balance Specialists has provided audiology health care services to Southern Utah, Nevada and the surrounding communities. Their team of highly qualified audiologists specialize in hearing and balance evaluations, hearing devices and pediatric hearing health care. They strive to match every patient with an individualized treatment plan and tools that fit their lifestyle.

If you or someone you care for is experiencing signs of hearing loss, contact Advanced Hearing & Balance Specialists at 435-688-8866 to schedule an appointment.

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