StromObservations
Okay, maybe the front cover’s headline, “Back from the Dead,” is a bit sensationalist. After all, hair cells aren’t exactly rising up in front of their little cochlear tombstones and shuffling off as if they’re in a cheap Ed Wood movie. But should researchers continue to make excellent progress in the field of hair cell regeneration, restoration, and otoprevention, the results may be just as amazing. In this month’s HR, noted hearing scientist Edwin W. Rubel, PhD, of the Virginia Merrill Bloedel Research Center in Seattle says that hair cell regeneration in humans is likely, and it has the ability to provide a huge positive impact on hearing aid use, audiological services, and quality care within the next 20 years. Rubel, who runs the humorously named “Rubelab” at the University of Washington and was recently honored with the Carhart Memorial Lecture Award of the American Auditory Society, provides several candid observations and predictions in the article that begins on page 18.

While any reasonable person in the hearing care field would welcome an actual “cure” for hearing loss, there comes with this altruistic wish the lingering, angst-ridden question, “Well, then what am I going to do for a living?” Rubel says that he’s confident this anxiety is misplaced. In fact, he believes that the fruits of hair cell regeneration, restoration, and otoprevention are far more likely to increase the need for, and effectiveness of, hearing aids and hearing care services. Imagine the ability to be able to grow a few hundred additional hair cells in the cochlea of an individual who is deaf thus allowing him/her to opt for a hearing aid instead of a cochlear implant, or being able to regenerate the outer hair cells of a patient thereby providing him/her with a larger dynamic range and fewer recruitment issues. As Rubel states, it’s far more likely that this research leads to a great expansion in the hearing industry and a new age in the effectiveness of audiological services. The hearing care field needs to “step up to the plate” in supporting this research by informing the public and by helping to fund this important research.

HIA drafts Model Code of Ethics. Ethical issues and Codes of Ethics have been a hot topic with hearing health care professional organizations during the last half-dozen years. In response to this, the Hearing Industries Association (HIA) released in mid-September a document entitled Model Code of Ethics on Interactions with Hearing Health Care Professionals. The model code covers ethical issues such as HIA member-sponsored product training and education, support of third-party conferences, arrangements with expert consultants, third-party reimbursement issues, and grants and charitable donations to organizations. Due to legal considerations concerning restraint of free trade laws, HIA is careful to emphasize that the Model Code of Ethics is “aspirational in nature and provides a reference for companies in the formulation of their own policies.” Unfortunately, because of HR’s publication schedule, we were unable to include detailed information about the document in this issue of HR; however, coverage of the new model code will be included in the November issue.

Leo Doerfler, a giant in audiology, dies at age 85. In July, Leo G. Doerfler died. Leo was a true pioneer of audiology. In fact, at the urging of the “Father of Audiology” Raymond Carhart, he was the second person ever to get a PhD in audiology. Doerfler became president of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) in 1967, a time when audiologists were deemed “unethical” if they dispensed hearing aids. Always a pragmatist and a rebel, Doerfler—who had established the audiology program at the University of Pittsburgh—later began a dispensing program, causing the ASHA leadership of that time to become apoplectic. He was far from done. In 1997, he and seven others started a group called the Academy of Dispensing Audiologists (ADA), and he was elected its first president. That group meets for its 28th annual convention this month (see p. 54). In 1988, along with James Jerger and 30 other audiologists, he became a founding member of the American Academy of Audiology (AAA). Doerfler also established one of the industry’s first buying groups, Audiology Co-op, and was an early champion of the AuD. Steve Walsh, who helped in founding of the ADA, will present a tribute to Doerfler in an upcoming issue of HR.

Karl Strom
Editor-In-Chief