New Study Examines the Relationship Between Auditory Function and Fall Risk

by | Sep 8, 2023 | Hearing Loss, Patient Resources

I recently came across a fascinating study by Joseph Sakumura, AuD, and Richard Gans, PhD, that was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, and I’m excited to share more about it with you!

The study dove into the role that cognitive, vestibular, and auditory function play in fall risk management. Concrete evidence was found that cognitive, vestibular, and auditory function are closely related and could potentially mitigate the risk of falls if they are improved.

As I’m sure you’re aware, older adults are at risk of falls that can result in injuries, hospital stays, and even death.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are responsible for over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths each year in the United States alone.

While these are shocking numbers, the good news is that recent research has shown that there may be a way to reduce the risk of falls among older adults by working to improve their cognitive, vestibular, and auditory functions.

The study involved 599 adults between the ages of 18 and 89. It examined the relationship between cognitive, vestibular, and auditory function and the risk of falls.

The study involved 599 adults between the ages of 18 and 89.

Two particular quotes from this study caught my attention:

“Hearing loss is recognized as the number one modifiable risk factor for cognitive decline. Furthermore, patients with even mild cognitive impairment in domains of; visuo-spatial processing, executive function, memory recall, and reaction times are 14 times more likely to have degraded postural stability and elevated fall risk.”

The second quote comes from another study (Viljanen et al. 2009; Lin & Ferrucci 2012; Tin-Lok Jian, Li, & Agarwal, 2016):

“Risk of falling is 3x higher in patients with hearing loss compared to those with normal hearing.”

To sum it up, while falls are a health concern for older adults, recent research is promising. It suggests that improvements in cognitive, vestibular, and auditory function could play a key role in fall risk management. If these functions are improved, older adults might be able to reduce their risk of falling and improve their quality of life.

Here at Port Credit Audiology & Hearing Aids, comprehensive hearing assessments and advanced hearing aid technology are at the heart of our business.

As a hearing care professional, I’m thrilled to see studies like this recognizing the importance of caring for your hearing health.

If you or a loved one is concerned about your hearing or if you have any questions that you think we may be able to answer, then you can call us at (905) 990-3755 or request a callback.

We’re always here to help!

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Dario Coletta

Dario Coletta M.Sc., Au.D., Reg. CASLPO Doctor of Audiology is the head Audiologist of Port Credit Audiology & Hearing Aid Clinic. Dario obtained his Doctor of Audiology from A.T. Still University and Master of Science in Audiology from the University of British Columbia following his Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto. He currently holds lecturer status at the University of Toronto in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery. Dario continues to work part-time at the Toronto General Hospital and has knowledge in advanced diagnostics, bespoke hearing aid fittings, and cerumen management. Dario also has a special interest in managing and counselling patients with tinnitus. He brings knowledge and efficiency in prescribing and fitting the newest hearing aid technology, and is committed to helping patients find an individualized solution for their hearing healthcare concerns.