Hearing, Balance, Speech Center Aids ‘the Primary Sense’

Audiologist Ronni Mathews, M.S., CCC-A, and Patient Care Coordinator Lori Pokladowski welcome those who want to find solutions to hearing loss at Hearing, Balance and Speech Center. They work in the 2661 Dixwell Ave., Hamden, and 171 Grandview Ave., Waterbury, sites of the business.

WATERBURY — Natan Bauman, Ed.D., M.S., Eng., FAAA, an audiologist, inventor, and founder of Hearing, Balance and Speech Center, 171 Grandview Ave., was inspired by the words of Helen Keller, who once said she would choose to have her hearing if she could regain one of the two senses she was denied in life. He told Voices, “I was surprised to read that because I think we intuitively value vision as our most important sense. She clarified that not being able to see deprived her of a relationship with objects but not being able to hear deprived her of relationships with people.”

At that time, Dr. Bauman was an electronics engineer; he decided to change his career because of Ms. Keller’s message. “It made me think of the power of hearing and what it means to be able to hear and process information.”

He added, “Hearing is the primary sense that helps us survive and it’s a sense that helps us to become a community and have relationships on many different levels.”

After more than four decades of dedicating his life to auditory study and practice, he is excited to continue his mission of helping others.

“This work is the driving engine of my life,” he said. “I’m past retirement age, but I don’t want to give up this work because I want to continue to create opportunities for people to maximize and optimize their hearing.”

Dr. Bauman noted that everyone working at Hearing, Balance and Speech Center has the same attitude and passion as he does, which is just one reason why the business model is unique.

“We use many different means to restore hearing, for example through different devices, to address the degree of hearing loss but we also look at the patient’s subjective living needs.”

Treatment is individualized to allow patients to function in the way they want to function and therefore enjoy a better life.

“One patient may want to hear grandchildren speak and another might want to hear a concert or still another might want to enjoy a game of bingo.”

Explaining that hearing in each instance requires a different set of processing, Dr. Bauman focused on the example of a music lover.

“People want to appreciate the dynamic range of sounds, from pianissimo to forte, because that range represents the emotions embedded in the composition of a piece. To hear speech, patient want to hear at the level they perceive to be optimal. We make adjustments with our devices so soft sounds become comfortable and sounds that are too loud are diminished.”

According to Dr. Bauman, it’s important to recognize the differences in pitch because a child’s voice is higher pitched and it is necessary to adjust for that instance.

In a bingo hall, it’s necessary for players to hear distant sounds yet a hearing device should not make nearby sounds too loud.

“It’s important to understand the physics of sound propagation and how electronic devices magnify specific sounds to accommodate individual needs. We do more than test hearing and dispense hearing aids.”

Hearing, Balance and Speech Center also provides balance services, which are the third most common complaint among the growing population of seniors, following back and headaches.

“As we grow older, the mechanism responsible for balance degenerates, just like other parts of our body, as does our ability of our brains to monitor sensations from our feet. Here, we evaluate and help people to avoid falls because prevention is important.”

Another specialty is treatment for tinnitus, commonly referred to ringing in the ears.

“For most people, it’s not bothersome but 10 to 15 percent of the population suffers on a level that ruins lives. We’re one of the few places in the country that provide treatment.”

Hearing, Balance and Speech Center services include treatment of sound severity disorders, such as hyperacusis or the perception of sounds as too loud, phonophobia or fear of sound, and misophonia or a heightened sensitivity to specific sounds such as chewing or lip smacking.

“People come from all over the country and even from outside the United States because we are one of the few centers to address these disorders and others. We offer counseling because there is often brain retraining that must take place.”

Dr. Bauman has developed several programs that he shares during seminars with other professionals and he is credited with inventing the style of hearing aid used by 80 percent of people with hearing loss worldwide.

“I took the speaker from behind the ear and moved it into the ear canal, changing out sound is propagated.” He said that, when asked how he feels about this accomplishment, he is happy and that the idea is, “Pretty groovy.”

More information about Hearing, Balance and Speech Center is available at www.hearingbalance.com and Facebook.

Appointments may be made by calling 203-287-9915 for offices located in Branford, Bristol, Hamden, Norwalk, Wallingford and Waterbury.

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