When most of us think of a stroke, we think of numbness or weakness in the face or body, slurred speech or even death. What we many do not think of is hearing loss and the long-lasting and compounding effect it can have on a stroke patient as they face recovery in the days, months and years to come.
Experts now believe a hearing screening protocol to identify potential hearing loss in stroke patients and treat it early could make all the difference.
What is a stroke?
According to the CDC:
Symptoms of a stroke include numbness or weakness in face or limbs, sudden confusion, trouble speaking, severe headache with no known cause. Strokes can also affect hearing leading to such problems as peripheral hearing loss, disordered auditory processing and cortical deafness. This impairment can lead to not only poor physical recovery, according to experts, but also more serious related issues in the future, such as cognitive decline.
Identifying hearing loss in stroke patients
In an effort to better support stroke patients in their recovery, experts are recommending a hearing screening protocol, one that a recent study shows could prove effective.
The team has proposed and studied a multi-step approach that could be a preliminary step toward identifying hearing impairment:
During the study, the proposed screening protocol was used for 42 stroke patients at three to 12 months after their stroke. Once this was completed, a full audiological assessment was done on the patients to determine the effectiveness of the handheld screener and questionnaire protocol.
The findings were promising. In fact, the handheld screener itself “demonstrated the highest sensitivity (93%) and specificity (100%).” Paired with the questionnaires, the protocol proved reliable in identifying patients that needed a full auditory assessment for hearing loss, potentially preventing delayed recovery, communication issues, and dementia down the road.
This process that would be followed by those working in stroke units and with stroke patients would also be paired with a specific referral protocol outlining when to refer patients for the full audiology assessment with a hearing healthcare professional.
This more comprehensive screening protocol plus the referral protocol could make all the difference for the millions who suffer a stroke each year, getting them the diagnosis and treatment they need as early as possible.
Hearing loss can affect anyone, whether you have had a stroke or not. If you believe you have a hearing impairment, contact our office to schedule a hearing evaluation today.