Millions of people worldwide are suffering in various degrees of the medical condition known as tinnitus. Known popularly as “ringing in the ears” or “phantom sounds,” the American Tinnitus Association defines tinnitus as ” the perception of sound when no actual external noise is present.” While the condition may be either temporary or chronic, in worse cases, it is a debilitating condition that affect one’s day-to-day life.
Sadly, a number of those suffering from the disease are music artists. Due to the nature of this disease, it can affect their artistry and livelihood. And while there have been some success stories, other artists who are found suffering from it are forced to leave the industry altogether.
Despite the situation at the moment, there is possible hope on the horizon. Researchers from the University of Michigan and McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, have recently developed an experimental device that aims to at least alleviate tinnitus. What this device does is that it delivers 30 minutes of sensory stimulation, alternating between brief audio tones (transmitted via headphones) and light pulses to the patient’s neck or cheek.
The device, which patients can administer themselves at home, disrupts the synchronized firing of neuron networks in one part of the brain, an act that is believed to be the cause of tinnitus. About 20 people were tested with the device (after first achieving successful results on guinea pigs) who used it for half an hour each day for one month. The results show promise: two participants reported being completely cured, while 11 others reported a reduction in volume or pitch.
At the moment, there is no word yet as to when the device will be introduced to the general market but already, there is excitement generating around the device. Needless to say we continue to insist on the vital need and use of hi-fidelity ear protection in any kind of environment where loud noise and music can damage one’s hearing.