Sound Therapy: Natural Hearing Improvement

Totally Sound Health
Sep. 20, 2009
Sound Therapy: Natural Hearing Improvement
Sound Therapy: Natural Hearing Improvement
Sound Therapy: Natural Hearing Improvement
Sound Therapy: Natural Hearing Improvement
Sound Therapy: Natural Hearing Improvement
Sound Therapy: Natural Hearing Improvement
Sound Therapy: Natural Hearing Improvement
Sound Therapy: Natural Hearing Improvement
Sound Therapy: Natural Hearing Improvement
Sound Therapy: Natural Hearing Improvement
Sound Therapy: Natural Hearing Improvement
Sound Therapy: Natural Hearing Improvement
Sound Therapy: Natural Hearing Improvement
Sound Therapy: Natural Hearing Improvement
Sound Therapy: Natural Hearing Improvement
Sound Therapy: Natural Hearing Improvement
Sound Therapy: Natural Hearing Improvement
Sound Therapy: Natural Hearing Improvement
Sound Therapy: Natural Hearing Improvement
Sound Therapy: Natural Hearing Improvement
Sound Therapy: Natural Hearing Improvement
Sound Therapy: Natural Hearing Improvement
Sound Therapy: Natural Hearing Improvement
Sound Therapy: Natural Hearing Improvement
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Sound Therapy: Natural Hearing Improvement

Editor's Notes

  1. By the time I was 7 years old I had lost 10% of my hearing due to recurrent ear infections. Many children in my class had to sit in the front row because of their eyesight, but I was the only one who had to sit in the front because of my hearing. I started playing the piano when I was 6 years old, and the electronic organ when I was 8. I loved music, and the organ in particular. Our organ and piano were in the same room, and my sister used to practice the piano while I practiced the organ. That meant that I had to use headphones with the volume turned right up so I could hear my music over my sister’s. Even if I didn’t have to compete with her playing, I still practised loud, and my mother was always telling me to turn the volume down or I would ruin my hearing. When I wasn’t playing the organ, I was listening to rock music, also up quite loud through headphones. So it was hardly surprising that by age 14 I had developed noise induced hearing loss and tinnitus. I had wanted to study music at University, but my parents didn’t agree with that career choice. They wanted me to study science instead. I was selected to go to the National Science Summer School in 1993, and was one of 6 Australians who went to the summer school in New Zealand. One of the sessions we had was about otoacoustic emissions, which was an area of science I hadn’t come across before. I was nominated to be the guinea pig who had the probe inserted into my ear so we could be shown how otoacoustic emissions works, and the university student supervising us was quite surprised at what my results were. Some frequencies just didn’t register at all, which he thought was pretty cool. He said he’d never seen hearing so bad before. I went on to complete 2 science degrees at University, in physics, IT systems and applied maths, and gained a thorough grounding in research. My first job in the IT field was at Westrail, and I had to have a full medical prior to starting, including a hearing test. Not surprisingly, my hearing test was bad – the audiologist thought I hadn’t understood the instructions that I needed to press the button when I heard a sound! I assured her I had understood, I just hadn’t heard the sounds, and I didn’t need to repeat the test! I showed the audiogram to my dad, a GP, and asked him if I should do anything about it. He referred me to an ENT specialist who confirmed I had noise induced hearing loss (which I already knew!) and said there was nothing that could be done about it except to try to avoid making it any worse given that I was only 20 years old and needed to preserve what hearing I had. So, I didn’t really think about my hearing any more, and just kept on compensating for it, lip reading to some extent, avoiding using the phone as much as possible, and turning the volume up. I stumbled across the book “Sound Therapy: Music to recharge your brain” in 2003. I read the whole book in one sitting, and was very excited to read that perhaps there was something I could do about my hearing and tinnitus after all. So I sent off for the Basic Music Kit, and started using it. Within days I started sleeping better, which made me feel very positive about the Sound Therapy. My hearing did gradually start improving, which was most noticeable for me in having to turn the volume down on my walkman. And after 6 months of using it, I realised that somewhere along the line my tinnitus had completely cleared up as well.
  2. I completed Sound Therapy practitioner training in 2003, and started retraining in other natural therapies the following year. In late 2006, Rafaele Joudry, the founder of Sound Therapy International and author of the Sound Therapy books, asked me to become the primary distributor for Sound Therapy in WA. I accepted, and launched the Sound Therapy Perth website and company Totally Sound Health in early 2007. I now have two young children - the eldest is nearly 3 and the younger is 18 months, and we all use Sound Therapy as a preventative measure.
  3. Sound Therapy is a revolutionary approach to healing with sound, based on important discoveries about the ear and brain made by French ear specialist Dr Alfred Tomatis in Paris in the 1950s. Sound Therapy is a listening program which uses specially filtered classical music to rehabilitate the ear and stimulate the brain. Although it uses music, it is different to other music therapies because the music is altered in such a way that it has a physiological effect on the ear and brain. It is a portable program that involves listening to the Sound Therapy CDs on a portable CD player using headphones. Sound Therapy consultants such as myself provide ongoing support to ensure listeners get the most out of their program. It can be used by anyone, anywhere – at home, at work, while driving, at the movies… Those who use it include older people with hearing difficulties, children who need help with learning and anyone wanting to improve their general well being. Age is no barrier to success with Sound Therapy. People in their 80s and even their 90s have had great success with the method.
  4. So what were these discoveries Dr Tomatis made, and how did he transform them into a therapeutic listening program? As his initial concern was with hearing loss, Tomatis' first experiments dealt with altering the auditory curve. Initially, Tomatis worked with singers who had lost certain frequencies in their voices. He found that the dead spots in their voices matched exactly the dead spots on their audiograms. He concluded that the voice contains only those sounds that the ear can hear and this discovery was confirmed at the Sorbonne University in Paris. Tomatis designed an apparatus, called the "Electronic Ear", which could manipulate the frequencies of sounds so it could match a sound to a person's auditory curve, or vice versa, it could boost the deficient frequencies to enable someone to hear as a normal ear would hear. By correcting their hearing with the Electronic Ear, he restored the missing frequencies to their voices.
  5. However, the repair that he was able to achieve at that stage was only temporary. Tomatis continued his experiments, and discovered that if treatment with the Electronic Ear is carried out consistently over a certain number of hours and period of time, the effects became permanent . The secret to achieving the permanent reparation of hearing lay in the gymnastic effect of the Electronic Ear upon the hearing mechanism. The Electronic Ear did more than simply present a corrected sound scope to the ear; it presented fluctuating sounds, alternating through high and low channels so that the ear was forced to constantly adjust between the high and low tones. This gymnasticised the middle ear muscles, giving the ear a complete work-out in the act of listening. The muscles thus regain their natural tone, which accounts on a physical level for the improved hearing.
  6. After WWII, Tomatis tested the hearing of aeroplane mechanics , and he noticed that there was an anomaly in the results he was seeing, depending on whether they were hoping for a pension or were afraid of losing their jobs due to poor hearing. This led him to realise that there is also a large psychological component to hearing. He then pursued an in-depth study of psychology and founded a new branch of research called audio-psycho-phonology. Dr Tomatis developed theories about the role of sound in the development of the unborn child . Tomatis found that the foetus begins to hear at four and a half months in the womb and that the baby hears not only the mother’s visceral noises and heartbeat but also her voice. Tomatis says that this acoustic relationship with the mother forms the foundation for all our other relationships. Tomatis learned that hearing affects us both psychologically and physiologically and thus healing the ear can alleviate many other conditions, not just those directly related to hearing.
  7. Dr Tomatis wrote 14 books and numerous articles. Tomatis was acclaimed for his work by the French Academies of Medicine and Science . He was named a Knight of Public Health of France in 1951 and received a Gold Medal for Scientific Research in 1958 Tomatis’ method has been used clinically in 200 centres around the world which have duplicated Dr Tomatis’ results. Numerous research studies have documented specific benefits for psychological problems, stuttering, and learning difficulties.
  8. In the 1980s, Canadian author Patricia Joudry was treated at a Tomatis clinic in Montreal. She experienced dramatic improvements in her chronic insomnia, exhaustion, sound sensitivity and writers block. With the help of some Benedictine Monks who were trained in the Tomatis method, Patricia Joudry produced a self help program , making Sound Therapy affordable and accessible to large numbers of people for the first time. Patricia wrote the book “Sound Therapy for the Walkman” about her experience with Sound Therapy, and as people started learning about Sound Therapy by word of mouth, letters started pouring in from people who had used the Joudry’s portable program. They reported how Sound Therapy had improved their hearing to the point where they no longer needed to use hearing aids, or how it had cured their tinnitus, or even how it had helped with their children’s learning and behavioural problems. Her daughter Rafaele has continued this work. Rafaele, who now lives in NSW, founded Sound Therapy International with the aim of bringing the portable Sound Therapy method to people who need it all over the world .
  9. Here you can see an illustration of the components of the ear. On the left you can see the ear drum , that looks sort of like an umbrella from the side. Then in the middle, the shaded part, is the middle ear which contains three tiny bones, the hammer, the anvil and the stirrup. It’s interesting that these are the smallest bones in the human body. They are also the densest bones , and they are the first bones to form in the foetus when it is growing in the womb. This indicates that hearing is the most important sense to the foetus and indicates its vital importance to the development of our brain .
  10. Equally important are the two tiny muscles , the tensor tympani (hammer muscle) and stapedius (stirrup muscle). These, according to Dr Tomatis, play a role in tuning the ear . They allow us to tune in to the sounds we want to hear and tune out the others. Sound Therapy gives a work out to the tiny muscles in the middle ear, so that if they have become weak or over contracted they regain their flexibility and usefulness. It’s just like taking your ears to the gym! Then, once the ear has become more receptive to the incoming high frequencies, these can enter the inner ear , the spiral shaped chamber you can see there. The gentle high frequency sounds stimulate the receptor hair cells in the inner ear . The inner ear is lined with tiny hair cells called cilia, which pick up the sound vibrations a relay them to the brain . Do you know there are 24,600 cilia in each ear? I don’t know who counted them, but they must have been very patient! Some of the ear-related problems that Sound Therapy helps include hearing loss, tinnitus, Cocktail party syndrome, blocked ears, dizziness, vertigo and Meniere’s syndrome. We’ll look at some of these in more detail shortly.
  11. One of the most important discoveries of Dr Tomatis was that the brain needs high frequency sounds in order to function as it should. Dr Tomatis says that the ear was designed to hear predominantly high frequencies . These are the sounds found in nature , such as bird songs, running water, rain, insects and frogs. These days we are surrounded by machine noise , which is almost all low frequency . It is very rare for us not to be able to hear a machine, be it a vehicle or electrical appliance, particularly computers and air conditioners. They are in the home, the office, the factory. Even outdoors you have vehicles, lawn mowers, chain saws and jet planes . So we spend the greater part of our lives exposed to low frequencies . These drain our energy and tire our nervous system. The only way to counteract all the low frequency noise we are constantly bombarded with is the very concentrated stimulating program of filtered music offered by Sound Therapy. Low frequencies deplete our energy; high frequencies replenish and restore our energy. The augmented high frequency sounds on the tapes stimulate the cortex of the brain .
  12. This is why when people use Sound Therapy they generally find they have energy to burn. Almost everyone who uses Sound Therapy reports that they have more energy , and there is often a dramatic reduction in stress levels. Quality of sleep also improves – it’s fantastic for insomnia cs. Most listeners report improvements in their sleep even on the first night. Over time most people find they don’t need as much sleep anymore, with many listeners saying they can get by on between one and three less hours of sleep per night than they used to . Some people have also reported great improvement in conditions such as poor memory, epilepsy, stroke recovery, depression, schizophrenia, autism, and brain damage .
  13. Being able to distinguish sounds in a noisy environment is often the biggest issue for many people with hearing loss. A hearing aid makes the sound louder but it does not help the ear to sort out the important sounds from the background noise. As we’ve already seen, the middle ear muscles play a role in discriminating sound. They allow us to tune into the sounds we want and not the others. People using a cochlear implant always have great difficulty with sound differentiation because they are not using the middle ear at all. A hearing problem can occur anywhere along the auditory pathway, not just within the ear itself but along the nerve pathways and in the auditory processing centres in the brain An implant or a hearing aid cannot improve the functioning of your natural ear or help with your auditory processing, but Sound Therapy can. Sound Therapy has helped people who use hearing aids, including those in their 80s and 90s.
  14. Dan Stuckel in Alberta Canada, wrote: "Before I began using the Sound Therapy tapes my hearing was becoming progressively worse. Ear specialists told me it was caused by nerve damage, therefore there was nothing which could be done for me. They said the ringing in my ears would become louder as time went on, thereby reducing my ability to hear. "I purchased an 'in the ear model' hearing aid after I found their predictions to be correct. My hearing did indeed deteriorate. I found I had to wear the hearing aid more and more as time went on, to a point where I was wearing it 80% of the time. "After about 3 weeks of beginning the Sound Therapy, the ringing in my ears began to subside. Along with that my hearing also began to improve. One day I felt something almost like a minor earthquake taking place deep within my ears. Since then my hearing has improved to such an extent that I seldom have to use my hearing aid. I am able to function quite well without it now, after 7 months of Sound Therapy. Gladys Irwin, NSW: "After a hearing test three years ago, I was fitted with hearing aids, which proved helpful. After several months the tinnitus in the right ear was so strong that the aid was useless. “ When I learned about Sound Therapy early in 1981 I purchased the book which I found fascinating, so I tried the tapes. For eight months I have persevered with the treatment. In the last three months I realised my hearing had improved so that I can now do without the aids. This was confirmed recently when I was examined by an ear, nose and throat specialist, who said that I had the hearing of a woman forty - I am eighty-seven!”
  15. Another problem commonly associated with hearing loss is Tinnitus. Tinnitus is the condition where a person hears a noise inside their ear that no one else can hear. One man told us his tinnitus was so loud that it kept his wife awake, but I don’t think that was his tinnitus! Tinnitus can be any sound from ringing, buzzing, rushing roaring shrieking or popping . A lot of people say it is like having a flock of cicadas inside your head. It may be intermittent or permanent , it can be in one or both ears. Tinnitus is the result of neurons firing from internal stimuli rather than external stimuli (sounds). It can begin at any point along the auditory system. Some of the specific injuries or malfunctions commonly associated with tinnitus include: Damage to the cilia (hair-like sensory cells which receive sound in the inner ear) - if they are bent over and touching each other they produce a short circuit, causing the phantom noise Congestion or imbalance of fluid in the inner ear chambers - any condition which disturbs the fluid pressure in the inner ear chamber may produce head noise. This may be due to infection, allergy, or circulatory disturbances which produce changes not only in the fluid but also in the encasing membranes of the inner ear. Hyperactive brain cells - neurons in the auditory processing parts of the brain firing when they shouldn't be For those people who have severe tinnitus, it can be very hard to live with and many are desperate for relief . There is no drug to treat tinnitus and most people are told by their doctors that nothing can be done.
  16. Sound Therapy may help any of these types of tinnitus. The movement produced in the muscles can re-balance the fluids. Brain cells are calmed, and where the cilia have been damaged and flattened by too much noise, the gentle high frequencies of Sound Therapy may stimulate them and help to bring them back to their upright position. Rafaele Joudry has interviewed doctors, audiologists, psychologists and natural therapists to find out as many different approaches to helping tinnitus as possible, because sometimes you may need a multi pronged approach for tinnitus. Sound Therapy will help most people but it may only be part of the solution. Rafaele wrote a book called Triumph Over Tinnitus, which gives the latest information on Sound Therapy for tinnitus. It is also a great tool for people with tinnitus because it goes into all sorts of different treatments, including medications to avoid including certain antibiotics and strong aspirins, and even caffeine.
  17. Sound Therapy is also extremely beneficial for learning and behavioural problems and speech difficulties , as these problems all have a root in ear and/or auditory processing issues. Many children with these problems have had a history of ear infections which have caused lasting damage to their ear. Children with ADD or ADHD (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder) have auditory reception problems . Although they can hear, they have difficulty making sense of what they hear. This means they are unable to focus their attention on a selected topic for any length of time, which can lead to a great deal of frustration for them and those around them. These children don’t need drugs like Ritalin – they need their ability to process sounds sorted out, and Sound Therapy is a safe, drug free alternative for children. Another issue in learning and speech difficulties is confused laterality . Tomatis discovered that children who are left ear dominant have more trouble processing language. This is because the left side of the brain is the language centre . Because there is a cross over between the brain and the body, the right ear is connected more directly to the left hemisphere of the brain . Therefore if the right ear is our leading ear, sound reaches the brain more quickly. If the left ear leads, it causes a delay in processing as sounds travel from the left ear to the right hemisphere of the brain and then back again to the left. This delay can be evident in jumbled outputs such as a stutter or dyslexia . The Sound Therapy CDs are louder in the right ear and this teaches the listener to be right ear dominant. Because of this Dr Tomatis was able to help thousands of dyslexic children to learn to read. Remedial education is not helpful until the ear function has been sorted out, so the first step to helping many of these children is Sound Therapy.
  18. To listen to Sound Therapy you need a portable player with headphones . This enables you to listen while you get on with your day-to-day activities, so it doesn’t take any time out of your day. A carry pouch can be a useful addition to keep your hands free so you can use it while you undertake just about any activity indoors or out. The volume is kept very low so you can still hear what is going on around you. The volume is louder in the right ear , which is an important part of the therapy, as it builds right ear dominance. You could listen while reading, working at your desk, using the computer, going for a walk, having a conversation or even while watching TV. It can even be listened to during sleep . It is just as effective, and it also helps you to sleep better . People who use Sound Therapy with a hearing aid should do some of their listening with the hearing aid in and some without it.
  19. We recommend that adults listen to Sound Therapy for around 3 hours a day, and children for a minimum of 30 minutes per day. For people with tinnitus I recommend that you don’t listen any more than 3 hours a day, but if you don’t have tinnitus and find it pleasant to listen for longer, there is no harm in doing so. Some people get results from Sound Therapy quite quickly . Many notice an improvement in sleep the first night, but the average time for significant change is three months. It does vary from person to person as everyone’s individual circumstances are different. A condition you have lived with for years is not likely to go away overnight!
  20. Today we are challenged not just by noise pollution but by hundreds of other environmental toxins that didn’t exist a few decades ago. Young people today often have poorer health than their forebears because their immune systems are weaker. Our bodies need sixty minerals a day to maintain good health and avoid chronic disease. The ear is a very nutrient rich organ and requires a lot of minerals to function well. Unfortunately we do not get enough minerals from our fruit and vegetables today as we did fifty years ago, so supplementation is very important. We are also affected today by large numbers of free radicals from all the environmental pollution. Free radicals cause cellular damage and many chronic diseases including cancer. A good antioxidant supplement has been found to help the ears as well as protecting against many chronic diseases . I have further information about good supplement choices as well as toxic-free home and personal care products to minimise your exposure to harmful chemicals.
  21. The Basic Music Kit is the minimum program that everyone starts on for the first 300 hours. Most find this kit is sufficient. You may be thinking “it costs $439 for 4 CDs??” but keep in mind that these aren’t any old CDs – they are a therapeutic listening program that takes much longer to produce and they include ongoing support. The program on CD is around 1/10th the cost of undertaking the same sort of program in a clinic or using a comparable program such as Neuromonics. You can purchase by mail order, or order online at
  22. Although there have been numerous case studies over the past 25 years that report how Sound Therapy has improved people’s hearing, I have only found one research study which specifically tests the effect of the Tomatis effect on hearing. All of the other research studies focus more on auditory processing or tinnitus. I am currently conducting a research study to measure any changes to hearing after 300 hours of Sound Therapy. The study involves having a hearing test prior to commencing an 11 week listening program, and another hearing test at the end. There is also a questionnaire to complete before and after to also gauge participants’ perceptions of their own hearing, to see how that matches what the audiogram shows. Because I am not affiliated with a university, there is a cost associated with participating as I don’t have access to external funding for the study, however the fee is purely to recover the costs of the hearing tests and equipment. I don’t make any money from the study – in fact, with my time factored in it runs at a substantial loss for me – and the program and equipment are yours to keep to continue using after the 300 hours has concluded should you wish to take part.
  23. If your interest has been sparked today and you would like to know more, I encourage you to read one of the Sound Therapy books , as this will give you much more information that I can cover in this talk. You can also visit