Report by: Helen Whiston MSc Research Audiologist, University of Manchester.
Wolverhampton Wanderers stadium served as the backdrop for the British Society of Audiology’s (BSA) annual conference, welcoming approximately 120 delegates. The conference was opened by Dr Gareth Smith together with Dr Ted Killian, the BSA Chair, who set up a friendly and professional tone for the meeting.
In line with the main theme of the conference, Dr Debi Vickers presented an interesting overview of the process the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) applied, gathering information from 17 countries, in order to update the criteria for cochlear implant candidacy.
Gareth Smith’s welcome to the 2019 BSA Conference.
With a break from the normal conference process, grand rounds were used to offer fascinating short presentations and subsequent discussion around case studies between presenters, the audience and facilitators.
In the morning Dr Jenna Littlejohn, Research Associate at University of Manchester, discussed the relationship between hearing, dementia and vision and the need to develop clinical tools to help diagnose these comorbidities. Emma Hooper, Senior Sensory Support Therapist, described her role in the international SENSE-cog trial looking at quality of life outcome measures for patients with dementia and one other comorbidity, and their carers. Dr Brian Crosbie, Senior Research Fellow, University of Nottingham, discussed findings from the orchard study which identified the difficulties that a care home environment creates for residents with hearing loss and dementia, and looked at possible interventions to overcome these difficulties.
The afternoon session, which was chaired by Gemma Crundwell, focused on tinnitus and hyperacusis with Dr Magalena Serada, Head of Research with British Tinnitus Association, discussing the practice guidance for combination aids which is currently under development. Harriet Smith, a PhD student from the University of Nottingham, discussed the development of a measurement tool for tinnitus in children. Dr Veronica Kennedy, Consultant Audiovestibular Physician, provided us with a very interesting account of her clinical experiences with paediatric tinnitus and hyperacusis and contributed greatly to the grand round discussions that followed.
Gemma Crundwell chairing the afternoon session.
Following a break and the exhibition, there was further informative presentations from Sue Falkingham from Starkey who introduced us to the amazing new artificial intelligence technologies that are becoming available in hearing aids, including fall alerts, activity monitoring, language translation and touch/voice recognition using an app-based interface.
Dr Derek Hoare, Associate Professor at University of Nottingham, then provided an overview of the need for more research into hyperacusis, in which he explained how the James Lind Alliance uses scoping reviews to systematically identify gaps in research using priority setting partnerships which consist of patients and clinicians.
Alongside the main conference topics, there was also an overview of some of the National Institute of research (NIHR) portfolio including projects looking at sensorineural hearing loss in relation to using hearing aids with smartphones, EVOTION, and the REGAIN drug trial which is examining the potential for the regeneration of hair cells. Sara Coulson from the BSA also took the opportunity to launch of the new online learning section of the society’s website.
Sara Coulson launching the online learning section of the society’s website.
Away from the main educational elements of the conference, both the AGM and prize-giving were well-attended. The conference certainly met its remit by providing a well-organised and informative day of translation research.