Briefs | February 2014 Hearing Review

Teddy Bears Brighten Spirits for Hospitalized Kids, Thanks to Unitron US Unitron_US_teddy_bear-Lo

For a sick child in a hospital, a cuddle with a teddy bear can be a real day brightener. That’s why hearing healthcare manufacturer Unitron US, Plymouth, Minn. launched a program to create and deliver adorable individually stuffed and dressed teddy bears, to children’s hospitals across the country.

Unitron US kicked off the Teddy Bear initiative at its headquarters in May of last year. For the next several months, Unitron staff, joined by more than 300 hearing healthcare providers at special customer events, created and delivered hundreds of bears to the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital.

“Our team at Unitron is passionate about helping people, and in this initiative we were able to join with our like-minded hearing healthcare customers to channel that passion into a fun and very gratifying activity to help children in hospital,” says Dan Lindhorst, director of marketing, Unitron US. “After several Unitron staff members personally delivered the teddy bears and experienced the difference this gift can make for a sick child, we knew we had to keep this going.”

Unitron expanded its Teddy Bear initiative in October, marrying it with its regional seminar program delivered to customers in 35 cities across the country.

“A portion of each seminar was devoted to helping our customers, who are owners of small to medium-sized independent businesses, personally connect with their local communities,” explains Lindhorst. “This time our customers helped us not only create, but also deliver, the teddy bears to a local hospital, allowing everyone to experience that important connection to the children in the hospital.”

To date, Unitron US and its customers have donated nearly 1,000 teddy bears to children’s hospitals nationwide.

 Basketball Legend Bill Russell Becomes a HearStrong Ambassador bill russell

Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Russell, considered one of the best basketball players in history, has become a HearStrong Ambassador on behalf of the HearStrong Foundation.

“The HearStrong Foundation and EarQ came to my rescue during the 2013 NBA All-Star Game weekend,” says Russell. “I was scheduled to do some national interviews, but I had forgotten my hearing aids at home…Luckily, the team from HearStrong and EarQ was there and helped me into a brand new pair of devices. I was able to do the interviews well and fully enjoy the weekend. They came through in the clutch.”

“We are honored to welcome Bill Russell as a HearStrong Ambassador,” says Ed Keller, founder of the HearStrong Foundation and president of EarQ

Systematic Review Published: Ear Tubes or Watchful Waiting?

Watchful waiting or ear tube surgery? A decision faced by millions of families of children with recurrent or chronic otitis media with effusion (OME) each year. Out of concern regarding long-term effects like hearing loss and potential developmental delays, about a million such families choose ear tubes annually, opting for surgery that carries risks of its own.

Now, new research may have practitioners reconsidering their clinical recommendations. The systematic review of 41 studies found that implanting tubes in the ears of children who have persistent or recurrent episodes of OME improves hearing over a short period, but is less likely to improve long-term cognitive and functional development.

“Surgery can certainly help ease pain associated with ear pressure changes in the middle ear, and even improve hearing in the short term, but we found no evidence that surgical intervention improves longer term hearing, speech, language, or other functional outcomes in normally developing children,” says Michael Steiner, MD, chief of general pediatrics and adolescent medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, who served as the review’s lead medical advisor and senior author.

The review found that, compared with watchful waiting or myringotomy alone, implanting tubes decreased middle ear effusion and improved hearing up to 9 months post surgery. Limited evidence suggested that tube placement increased the rate of prolonged discharge from the ear or calcification of tissues in the ear compared with no ear surgery or just myringotomy.

Adenoidectomy also reduced time with ear infections and improved hearing up to 2 years compared with no treatment or as an adjunct to myringotomy; rarely, it increased the risk of postsurgical hemorrhage.

The review is published in the January 6, 2014 online edition of Pediatrics.