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Ear "Fitness"

Fitness is essential to overall well-being and health. When we think of fitness, we almost always assume physical fitness. Fitness can refer to other areas of health as well as ear fitness. Ear fitness involves keeping the ears stimulated at a safe level to ensure strong auditory processing.


When hearing loss is present, the auditory system is not stimulated to its full potential. Decreased neural activity causes the messages sent to the brain to be weak. Hearing and understanding becomes harder and harder particularly for people with hearing loss. It is important to keep neural activity high for better comprehension and success with hearing loss treatment like hearing aids.


One way to keep ears fit is through aural rehabilitation. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, aural rehabilitation is a person-centered approach to assessment and management of hearing loss that encourages the creation of a therapeutic environment conducive to a shared decision process which is necessary to explore and reduce the impact of hearing loss on communication, activities, and participations. Not only will hearing aids continue to stimulate the ears as they should be, but aural rehabilitation will keep the brain strong and healthy during the brain’s processing of sound. The more we exercise our ears and practice processing sounds, the better we will be able to understand speech. Some aural rehabilitation programs stress the ears to process very minor speech sound differences like the difference between ‘m’ and ‘n’ or ‘hat’ and ‘sat’. By practicing the distinction between minor speech sounds, the brain is better at understanding speech and can more easily and quickly comprehend what someone is saying. With better speech discrimination skills, hearing and understanding a conversation in background noise becomes easier too. This is very important for people with hearing loss as hearing in background noise is one of the biggest complaints of this population.


If you are interested in working on your ear fitness, there are apps that can be downloaded with games and exercises that will improve auditory processing. Talk to your audiologist about ways to improve your ear fitness and overall speech understanding.

Madison Braun, AuD

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