All posts by wpiblogaddy

10 celebrities with hearing issues.

620-08-hearing-loss-celebrity-rob-lowe.imgcache.rev1409773519298.web[1] posted an interesting list of celebrities with hearing loss.  They’re all talented, famous and among the 48 Million Americans coping with this problem. How many did you know about?

by Margery D. Rosen, October 8, 2014

1.  Rob Lowe

Undiagnosed mumps when he was a baby left Lowe totally deaf in his right ear. “Really loud restaurants drive me ballistic,” Lowe told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I live in a mono world. I wish I could [hear in] stereo. But other than that, I don’t think about my hearing loss.’’

2. Bill Clinton

Like many boomers, Clinton ignored his hearing difficulties for years until doctors diagnosed him with high-frequency hearing deficiency, the most common form of hearing loss. Described as an inability to distinguish sounds in noisy, crowded situations with a lot of background chatter (such as restaurants, theaters or political rallies), it’s linked to aging and exposure to loud noise. Clinton now wears two in-canal hearing aids.

3. Halle Berry

A victim of domestic violence some 20 years ago, Oscar winner Halle Berry lost 80 percent of her hearing in her left ear when an abusive boyfriend struck her repeatedly. She often speaks about her hearing loss to raise awareness and help other women break the cycle of violence.

4. Stephen Colbert

The political satirist and Emmy-winning talk show host was in elementary school when doctors discovered a tumor in his right ear. In order to safely remove it, they also had to remove Colbert’s eardrum, leaving him deaf in that ear.

5. Rush Limbaugh

In 2001, Limbaugh announced that he was virtually deaf. At the time, he said doctors had diagnosed autoimmune inner-ear disease, a rare condition. But according to CBS News and other news sources, his use of opioid painkillers may have contributed to his hearing loss. With two cochlear implants, he’s regained some hearing.

See full article here.

Apple Watch heart monitor saves teen’s life

th[1] (2)

by: Evan Killham, September 18, 2015

A teen sought medical attention after his Apple Watch heart monitor gave him persistently high readings, and that decision saved him from an untimely death.

Paul Houle, a 17-year-old football player, bought Apple’s wearable a few days before he started pre-season training at Tabor Academy in Marion, Mass.  After two practices in one day, he noticed that his heart rate was sitting around 145 beats per minute, even hours after he’d stopped exercising.

He wouldn’t know until later, but he was experiencing a potentially life-threatening condition.  “It was the first day of pre-season,” Houle said (via Cape Cod). “The first practice was from 10 until 12 and the second practice was from 3 to 5.

During my second practice, I started to have problems breathing and I had pain in my back, which turned out later to be my kidneys failing.”

See full article here.

Famous People with Hearing Loss, Hearing Problems



Published on May 8, 2015

This May, in honor of Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM), The Hearing Review has drawn from several sources to round up a list of famous people who suffer from hearing loss or a related issue. This compilation is intended to help illustrate how hearing loss and communication disorders can affect people of any age, and from all walks of life.

Famous Musicians with Hearing Damage

This list of well-known musicians with hearing loss was created by Andrew Mendelson at, whose article highlighted the issue of noise-induced hearing loss:

Neil Young

Ozzy Osbourne

Phil Collins

George Martin (producer of The Beatles, known as “the fifth Beatle”)

Brian Wilson

Jeff Beck

Eric Clapton

Pete Townshend

Ludwig von Beethoven

Celebrities with Hearing Issues

The AARP created this slideshow of notable people who have experienced hearing problems:

Rob Lowe

Bill Clinton

Halle Berry

Stephen Colbert

Rush Limbaugh

Jane Lynch

Robert Redford

Holly Hunter

Jodie Foster

Famous People with Hearing Loss

The list from EarQ, a nationwide network of independent hearing healthcare providers, included:

Helen Keller

Julia Brace

See full article here.

Reverse parking: A better way to park in parking lots.[1]

You’re Parking Wrong

Why it’s almost always better to back into a space than pull into it head-on.

By Tom Vanderbilt

There are myriad moments in everyday life when some common behavior can be performed in one of two ways, thus cleaving the world into two bitterly feuding camps, capable of using strongly held convictions, pseudo-scientific explanations, and rough psychological profiling to denigrate or dismiss the other side. The most notorious instance: The great “under” or “over” toilet paper roll debate.

On my blog, I was recently reminded of one of these almost-invisible, yet strangely polarizing, social behaviors, this time from the world of traffic. A reader named Jeff wanted to know:

What makes some people back into parking spaces rather than pull straight in? Is this a regional thing (in the south)? I’ve always thought that it takes much longer to back into the space and pull straight out than it takes to pull straight in and back out of the space.

See full article here.


Cleaning audiometer headsets

no spray (2)

By: James J. Jerome, Senior Occupational Audiologist

While conducting an annual hearing conservation plant visit for one of my customers, I ran into a situation of what NOT to do when cleaning an audiometer headset.

Before conducting a calibration, I always perform a listening check. I clean the headset jacks at all three connection points (starting from the back of the audiometer), and listen to a 1000 Hz continuous tone to ensure that the earphones are producing an uninterrupted tone when the earphone cords are flexed. In this case, all was well. After setting up my calibration equipment and mounting the first earphone onto the coupler, I noticed that the output was off by 2-3 dB for all of the frequencies. This is highly irregular for any audiometer. Fortunately, I was able to adjust the output and bring it up to ANSI specifications…until I got to 6000 Hz. As much as I tried, I was not able to adjust the output beyond a certain point. I ended up telling the customer what I found and said that the audiometer was going to have to be sent in for repairs (if necessary) and calibration.

Out of curiosity, I decided to call the manufacturer with the thought that there might be something I missed or that there might be a “field fix.” After telling my point of contact the problem I found, he stated that, in the course of cleaning the headset, any liquid that gets on the diaphragm of the earphone (past the black grid) can over time “clog” the diaphragm and affect the output of the audiometer. He stated that this affects the output particularly at 6000 and 8000 Hz. The only fix for this would be to replace the earphones and recalibrate the unit. Cost. . .several hundred dollars!

After my phone call, I asked the customer if she cleans the headset regularly. She said that the headset is cleaned after each use. When asked how she cleans the headset, she stated that she takes a can of aerosol disinfectant, and sprays the entire headset. That was my “AHA” moment! I relayed to her the conversation I had with the manufacturer and what she was going to have to do.


From the WPI Support Desk

oscar  mi300

One of the most common calls WPI Customer Support receives relates to Audiometric Daily Calibration failures.  90% of the time the culprit is a weak battery.  We recommend changing the Alkaline battery at least once a month if you test frequently.  If testing is infrequent, then always start with a fresh battery for your daily calibrations.  Remember, nothing makes a Calibrator happier than a FULL Battery!

Please Recycle used Batteries.




Puritan Bennett Spirometers no longer supported; how about a rebate?

spiro 2 spiro 1

The Workplace Applications software support desk will no longer provide technical support for the Puritan Bennett line of spirometers.  As of September 1, 2015, any Puritan Bennett spirometer issues with the Workplace Applications spirometry module will not be supported.  The reasons are many, some of these models of spirometers are no longer manufactured and parts are becoming difficult to come by.  In addition, the communication setup is archaic (switch box) compared to new spirometers with a USB connection.

Now some good news- NDD spirometers are still offering a $100 rebate and a free box of spirettes with the return of an old spirometer (any model) to NDD after a new NDD spirometer purchase.

This link details the rebate.

Here are the NDD Spirometers.

Contact us for a formal quote on a new NDD Workplace Applications compatible spirometer at




Already Gone


The ASHA Leader, June 2015, Vol. 20, 38-42. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR1.20062015.38

Though undetectable with testing, hearing decline begins when we’re in our 40s and 50s. What causes this change, and how can clinicians advise clients who notice the difference and struggle with it in everyday listening situations?

Janet Koehnke, PhD, CCC-A; Jennifer Lister, PhD, CCC-A; Ilse Wambacq, PhD

Forty-two-year-old Kelly comes to see you because she is having trouble understanding her friends in social situations, like outings to restaurants or clubs. She knows her hearing is normal and says she seems to have this problem only in situations where there are multiple conversations, background noise or music. Kelly is concerned because she’s now avoiding social events with challenging listening environments.

Sound familiar? It’s not uncommon for us, as audiologists, to see people in their 40s and 50s who complain of difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments. Yet when we conduct a complete audiometric evaluation on these clients, we often find normal pure-tone and speech thresholds and excellent word recognition in quiet. So what is the source of these clients’ hearing challenges?

A growing number of studies suggest that while clients’ hearing may be normal, their complex auditory processing at a central level is not what it was when they were in their 20s and 30s (see sources below). Some of the explanations for these declines include impaired temporal processing and binaural/spatial processing, which are thought to be mediated, at least in part, at the level of the auditory brainstem. In addition, there is clear evidence for age-related changes in cognitive processing in middle-aged people.

How do these changes affect the ability to understand speech in degraded listening conditions, locate sound sources, and, in general, communicate in everyday listening situations? Not surprisingly, research suggests there is not a simple answer to this question (see sources below). Nonetheless, certain auditory-processing challenges likely contribute to these hearing difficulties. Though typically not a debilitating decline, it is one audiologists and speech-language pathologists need to watch for in middle-aged clients, so that they can offer support, as needed.

See full article here.

Protecting Our Protectors


The ASHA Leader, June 2015, Vol. 20, 22-24. doi:10.1044/leader.LML.20062015.22
An audiologist is on a mission to create the ideal hearing protection for firefighters—and to convince them to use it.

Shelley D. Hutchins

Name: Kathleen A. Romero, AuD, CCC-A

Title: Owner, Audiology Associates

Hometown: Albuquerque, New Mexico


Sirens scream as the truck roars down the road. Inside a burning building, a woman’s cries are barely audible in the thundering fire.

All of these sounds are common in the lives of firefighters. They have to discern those muffled cries and other subtler sounds like creaks from the shifting building or a fire’s change in intensity, while also subjecting their ears to blaring sirens and other loud and potentially damaging sounds.

That’s why it’s so important to protect their ability to hear, says audiologist Kathleen Romero, who’s made this issue a focus of her work in her Albuquerque-based private audiology practice. She launched her office a few years ago in the usual way—drumming up patients through word-of-mouth. Her surprising specialty developed through one of those word-of-mouth patients.

Even young members of this profession, which relies so heavily on deciphering different noises, experience abnormally high hearing loss.

Her then-receptionist, now partner, is married to a firefighter who referred several of his buddies. Romero quickly learned that even young members of this profession, which relies so heavily on deciphering different noises, experience abnormally high rates of hearing loss.

“I immediately wondered why they weren’t wearing their hearing protection,” Romero says. “They all receive disposable foam ear plugs, which work if they’re actually used, and used correctly, but patients kept telling me they didn’t wear them.”

See full article here.

Brain Cells May Press ‘Pause’ When Hearing


The ASHA Leader, June 2015, Vol. 20, 16. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB3.20062015.16

Brain cells may be able to “wait” to determine what we hear, according to new research on gerbils at the Laboratory for Auditory Neurophysiology in Leuven, Belgium.

Human ears locate sounds in space by accounting for differences in intensity and timing between signals that reach our two ears. Cells in the brainstem, which receive electrical pulses from the auditory nerve when the cochlea hears sound, are “hyper-specialized” to respond to certain time differences, according to the lab’s Philip X. Joris, who worked with lead author Tom P. Franken on the study, published in Nature Neuroscience.

“For example, one cell may respond to sounds right in front of us, which reach both ears at the same time, while another cell may respond to sounds to our side, which reach the ears with a time difference of half a millisecond,” Joris says. “Depending on which cell is active, we know where the sound source is in space. But how cells compute this time difference has been a matter of conjecture because it is exceedingly difficult to study these cells in the brainstem.”

Click here for full article.