- Published on 27 June 2018
The biennial event at Lake Como was an opportunity to celebrate 20 years, to draw on experience, and to revitalize the field of audiology: from June 7 to 9, 2018, the complex at Villa Erba once again hosted hearing experts from across the planet, with scientific sessions and meetings in this splendid environment.
For three days, the specialists participating looked into and discussed what Hearing Across the Lifespan – which originally gave the event its acronym HeAL – means today. Again this year, not all participants were audiologists, and not all were necessarily healthcare professionals. Other professions included hearing aid specialists, ENT specialists, pediatricians, sound and communication engineers, institutional representatives and officials working on healthcare policies in various countries, geriatricians, physicians and surgeons, phoniatricians, speech-language therapists, and audiometrists.
The conference is now a well-oiled machine, with an international reputation. A fixed appointment bringing together the members of the broad audiology and hearing health family for the multiple sessions and activities on offer, from networking, intense debates and training, to research in the academic and clinical fields. All of this helping to develop valuable individual insights to take back home and promote through group studies, such as the series in the forums published over the years in special editions of the American Journal of Audiology. The topics dealt with during the sessions and in posters ranged from practices in hospitals and audiology centers to current topics in hearing such as fundamental research on mechanisms of hearing and hearing dysfunction, technological development in diagnosis, advances in hearing devices and instrumentation, medical issues related to implementation of programs and patient management, the psychosocial effects of hearing loss, causal pathways between hearing loss and cognitive decline and dementia, as well as clinical decision making, protocols and models, quality assurance, parents and public health perspectives, and advanced e-health applications. Essentially all areas of audiology and hearing health care.
The future challenges facing the field were also put forward by some of the most influential experts who have helped mold the history of audiology, such as the conference president Ferdinando Grandori. Grandori has always been involved in setting up the event, along with his colleague engineers from the Polytechnic of Milan and the Italian National Council for Research. Proposals were discussed with the members of the scientific committee of this edition of HeAL, namely Sophia Kramer, VU University Medical Center Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and Gabriella Tognola, CNR-IEIIT Institute of Electronics, Information Engineering and Telecommunications, Department of Electronics, Information and Bioengineering, Polytechnic of Milan, who supervised the training program, along with Larry Humes from the University of Indiana, USA, who always attends the conference and presented an interesting talk on analysis of the evaluation system for hearing loss by the World Health Organization, Judy Dubno from the Medical University of South Carolina, an American researcher with significant experience who talked about changes in self-referred hearing disability throughout life, and lastly Elizabeth Masterson, epidemiologist and researcher from the US who is the spokesperson for a study carried out by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Masterson reported the main results of the project to monitor occupational hearing loss and that examined hearing loss in workers exposed to noise in the United States.