Located in the inner ear there are three little tubes called the “semi-circular canals.” Their purpose is to control your balance. There is a tube for your horizontal, vertical and perpendicular movements or balance. The tubes are filled with fluid and little crystals that are evenly separated to help keep the fluid moving smoothly; thus, keeping us in balance. Over time, if the crystals get jammed together, then when we move, they move as a group and the fluid forcefully causes our world to get out of balance. This is a form of positional vertigo.

That is just one scenario as to why we may lose our balance and fall.

While in Las Vegas at Starkey Hearing Technologies Hearing Innovation Expo, we enjoyed classes on “balance training for the patient.” As hearing health care providers, we must not only be trained in properly testing and fitting of the hearing instruments, but we must take a full-bodied patient approach.

We know that the hearing evaluation alone reveals so much health information about the patient. Certain types of hearing loss may be indicative of heart issues. Cognitive decline is directly related to untreated or improperly treated hearing loss. Sinus issues can cause hearing loss to be more severe.

As providers we must be educated in every aspect of the ear, hearing, and their relationship to patient health. We all know that staying upright on our feet as we get older may not be as easy as when we were teenagers. Balance, which originates in the inner ear, still needs help from the rest of our body. We need to have a strong core.

Starkey Hearing Technologies’ Livio AI hearing instrument (artificial intelligence) allows the patient to set goals for steps, movement and gestures. The AI sensors have the ability to determine how much mental stimulation the patient is getting. They can tell if the patient is actively listening to another person or just to the TV. It is known that regular exercise and socializing keeps the hearing and the brain sharper.

Our office has been fitting Starkey hearing instruments for 51 years. We have seen the good, the bad and the ugly ... believe me. Personally, I have been fitting Starkey for 39 years (and I have also fit most other manufacturers along the way). We have been this area’s premiere Starkey Alliance Office for over 25 years. We truly believe that “To Hear Better Is To Live Better.” Starkey has now provided us the opportunity to be more involved with patients and their balance needs.

Every 11 seconds someone over the age of 70 is treated for falling. Every 19 seconds someone dies from falling. We have now been trained on Starkey’s new Balance Builder Platform Application. The artificial intelligence-embedded sensors provide real time data as to patient balance. This is an industry first.

If you fall, the instruments can send a text for help with your location. The hearing instrument provides specific balance exercises for the patient to improve their balance and gait. The hearing instruments then provide feedback and guidance to enable the patient to become more stable. All of this in the hearing instruments!

These hearing instruments are now multi-purpose devices, all designed to help us, your hearing health care professional, to have an integrated relationship with you ... our patient.

I hear it all the time: “I want to live to a nice old age ... as long as I am healthy.” Well, to stay healthy means being physically active enough to keep the blood pumping properly ... to keep the arteries clear and open. This helps the hearing nerves get the circulation that they need to keep your hearing keen. To grow old “healthy” also means you need to be involved socially and give your brain stimulation. One of the biggest things that can stop you from growing old healthy is taking a fall.

Many things happen with a fall: We slow down, and we second guess ourselves. We may get stuck in a hospital for a while and lose muscle. Now, through the gift of technology, data science and sensors, we have the ability to really help you “grow old healthy.” It really is amazing.

This conference was amazing. The training was spectacular. The Starkey LIvio Edge AI is the gateway to growing old healthy. To Hear Better Is To Live Better!

Roseann B. Kiefer, B.A., BC-HIS, is owner of Lampe and Kiefer Hearing Aid Center, Sebring. This information is not intended to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure your condition. Always talk to your doctor before following any medical advice or starting a diet or exercise program.