Monday, 22 September 2014
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Tinnitus treatment device could become available through NHS

A new tinnitus treatment device is to undergo a UK trial that could lead to the technology becoming available through the NHS.

The German-developed device, which is worn inside the ear, produces an audible sound that is designed to ‘reset’ the neurons in the brain that make tinnitus sufferers hear a high-pitched noise when there is no external sound.

Dr Derek Hoare, a research fellow at the National Biomedical Research Unit in Hearing (NBRUH), which is leading the trial, said the study would be a starting point for certifying the device for use in the NHS.

‘[Other devices] use various types of sound but none specifically target a well-hypothesised mechanism of tinnitus, to such an effect that they might just be providing a masking effect,’ he told The Engineer.

The acoustic Coordinated Reset (CR) technology is based on the theory that, following hearing loss, groups of neurons that normally react to sound fire at the same time without external stimulus, almost as compensation for a lack of real signals.

The CR device transmits signal designed to interrupt the neurons’ pattern of activity and force them to fire at random, using an algorithm to determine what frequency of sound to emit based on estimation of the pitch of the sufferer’s tinnitus.

‘If their tinnitus has a pitch of 8kHz, then they’ll be stimulated above and below that,’ said Hoare. ‘They have to be able to hear [the sound] but it’s played at very low level. The idea is that it should be background enough for them to pursue normal activity.’

The device was developed by Adaptive Neuromodulation, a spin-off company from the Jülich Research Centre in Germany, where it has undergone an initial trial.

It is being marketed privately in the UK by The Tinnitus Clinic in London, which is funding the £345,000 randomised control study in the UK to provide a more rigorous and detailed insight into the safety and effectiveness of the device.

Patients will be required to wear the device for four to six hours a day for the nine-month period of the trial. There is not yet enough information to say how long the effects of the treatment last for.

NBRUH is part of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), which co-ordinates research for the NHS. Researchers at Nottingham University will carry out the study in collaboration with University College London.

Anyone interested in taking part in the study should be aware that volunteers must be prepared to wear the device for four to six hours a day for nine months, in place of any hearing aids already worn, and must not be undergoing other tinnitus treatments. For details please send an email to nbruh-enquiries@nottingham.ac.uk.


Readers' comments (15)

  • So, how well has this underlying theory been tested? Medical history is sadly full of "remedial" interventions undertaken on the basis of a currently popular theory, which later turned out to be completely wrong.

    I hope this theory will be thoroughly scrutinised before further damage is done to the hearing of the trial patients (I almost said "victims")!

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  • Great! how do I get on the trial?
    My symptoms are only considered mild, but having lived with this for the last 25+ years I would still like to be rid of it.

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  • I am 69 years of age and have suffered with this debilitating condition for over 30 years I would be very happy to be considered for the trials or would be glad to have as much information about it so that I could have it and thereby have a far better of quality of life than at present.

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  • How do I get on the trial I have lived with this permanent ringing in my ears for two years.

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  • We've now added details of how to contact the researchers if you are interested in taking part in the trial (see above).

  • Here you can read a lot more about this device: http://www.anm-medical.com/ It is in English too.

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  • I am 17 and suffering with very mild tinnitus, and have been for about six months, would love to take part in an available trial.

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  • This idea sounds great and wish all fellow sufferers good luck. lets hope this one works. As a side shoot of that idea, has any body thought of using a tuneable ear piece that creates a sound wave equal but opposite to the tinnitus pitch thus canceling out the sound heard by the sufferer? Much like noise reduction tec. I know it's not a cure but it might help if it's not already out there.

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  • I am 63 years of age and have suffered with this debilitating condition for over 20 years I would be very happy to be considered for the trials or would be glad to have as much information about it so that I could have it and thereby have a far better of quality of life than at present.

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  • For details, please send an email to nbruh-enquiries@nottingham.ac.uk

  • I have suffered with this condition for 4 years now and there are times when i could bang my head on the wall because the tinnitus gets so loud.

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  • Its amazing how we can live with this insidious disease; it is a menace that is with you constantly and affects your waking day. Whilst sceptical of any "quick cure", you have to be really interested when a more plausible remedy appears. Count me in...please!

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