The Invisible Hearing Clinic is proud of its long association with The BTA (British Tinnitus Association). Clinical Director, Alan Hopkirk was delighted to once again attend the BTA Annual Conference and AGM which this year was held at Goldsmiths University in London.
BTA Annual Conference Networking Opportunites
For Alan, the Thursday evening networking event gave him an ideal chance to reconnect with fellow long-established tinnitus specialists and those just starting their journey, BTA staff and esteemed guest speakers. Events such as these are a perfect way to chat in a relaxed environment and compare notes without the usual conference time pressures. There was a real buzz about this evening and many of the attendees were looking forward to hearing from the array of guest presenters. Interestingly there was an interactive presentation about ear protection in the music industry and how the BTA is aiming to raise awareness of ear protection to prevent early hearing damage and Tinnitus. This is aimed at both music Professionals and the attending public!
The BTA Autumn campaign will be “Safe Around Sound”
Alan encourages all of our patients to be aware of ear protection and The Invisible Hearing Clinic has a range of custom sound protection options available which provide comfortable discrete hearing protection.
Professor David Baguley
The BTA Annual Conference marked a significant milestone. Professor David Baguley ended his 3-year term as BTA President and Mr Tony Kay (Head of Audiology at Aintree NHS) commenced his term in that role. A big thank you to Professor Baguley for the tireless work done on behalf of the BTA in raising awareness of tinnitus and for the vital message that effective treatment and support is available. Alan would like to extend his personal thanks to Professor Baguley for his contribution to our THIS2019 (Tinnitus & Hearing Information Show) which we arrange as our annual contribution to Tinnitus Awareness Week in Glasgow.
During the conference presentations took place on research projects, guidance on best practice for audiologists and tinnitus service providers and BTA initiatives:
David Stockdale – Conference Overview
David Stockdale is the CEO of the British Tinnitus Association. He outlined the research that the BTA funded over the last year. The BTA supports research projects with grants from £10,000 to £125,000 and therefore shows the BTA’s drive to improve the quality of life of those affected by tinnitus. David will be our joint headline speaker for THIS2020 on Saturday 8th February 2020. Dr James Jackson returns as our other headliner. This date is not to be missed by anyone with an interest in, or suffering from tinnitus.
David Stockdale CEO of The British Tinnitus Association and Joint Headliner at THIS2020
Alan spent the morning looking at current and potential new research options. Of particular interest was research into the effectiveness of Sound Therapy. It is a key component of TRT (Tinnitus Retraining Therapy) which moreover, forms the basis of our own treatment protocols. Wide-ranging expert opinion values the use of Sound Therapy in tinnitus treatment to a greater or lesser extent. We strongly advocate the use of Sound Therapy. Recent results from the extensive TRTT (Tinnitus Retraining Therapy trials) endorse our view. These show improvements in tinnitus patients treated with TRT and much faster results than comparison treatments
How effective is Sound Therapy? We rely on subjective data for measurement and there is still limited clinical evidence on the effectiveness of the treatment. Sound Therapy comes in many types, applied in various forms. This, therefore, makes it difficult to get that consistent evidence to scientifically validate it i.e. through results of several different trials. This means that officially the jury is still out and more work needs to be done on this important aspect of treatment. Meanwhile, as Professor Baguley has noted, a lack of evidence doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of benefit. We certainly have evidence of outstanding benefit in our patients’ results.
Other Treatment Reviews
Other reviews are complete on the vertigo drug Betahistamine and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). A further imminent review is due on Neuromodulation. Whilst the latter is promising, it still lacks sufficient evidence for the BTA to recommend it as a treatment. We will look at these reviews in more detail in a later post.
Introducing the Gold Standard for Tinnitus Support Groups
Following a pilot trial in London, a new Gold Standard for BTA Tinnitus Support Groups has been developed. It was launched at the conference. We hope to have fully adopted the criteria for Gold Standard accreditation for our groups next meeting on Tuesday 26th November’s meeting. This replaces October’s and December’s meetings of the BTA Glasgow and West of Scotland Tinnitus Support Group. This Gold Standard is effectively an auditing process. It ensures that there are certain core ingredients and commonalities throughout all groups. These commonalities include ethics, privacy, confidentiality and supportiveness; all very laudable objectives.
CBTi – Tinnitus and Sleep
Research has indicated that sleep disorders, tinnitus, and hyperacusis often occur in unison. One study showed that 30 per cent of those with tinnitus had a sleep disorder as well. Poor sleep can exacerbate tinnitus and hyperacusis which in turn affects the quality of sleep in a distressing cycle.
Dr Laurence McKenna of the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital, London provided evidence that CBT for insomnia (CBTi) is an effective antidote for disturbed sleep both as a primary problem and in conjunction with long-term pain. This is encouraging for us since core aspects of our treatments focus on CBT and improvements in sleep.
Conference Summary and Outlook for the Future
There is still no cure for tinnitus, and whilst it is frustrating, we do not expect one, anytime soon. The issue is complex because there are many areas of the brain that contribute in varying degrees to the suffering. Perhaps as The American Tinnitus Association has done, we should talk of not “a cure” but CURES. This reflects the different subtypes of tinnitus. New research has highlighted that rather than 1 in 10 it’s actually more common than that. One in eight have tinnitus and for one in fifty, it is bothersome. We can all still take heart though because research gives hopes for better and more targeted, perhaps faster-acting treatments. In the meantime support networks, such as the BTA Support Groups mean that you are not alone and as that old adage says, “a problem shared is a problem halved!”