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Neurostimulation System Significantly Reduces Tinnitus

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 26 Oct 2020
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Image: Simultaneously stimulating the tongue and auditory system can treat tinnitus (Photo courtesy of Neuromod Devices)
Image: Simultaneously stimulating the tongue and auditory system can treat tinnitus (Photo courtesy of Neuromod Devices)
A neuromodulation device that combines sound and electrical stimulation of the tongue can significantly reduce tinnitus symptoms.

The Neuromod Devices (Dublin, Ireland) Lenire system consists of a pair of Bluetooth wireless headphones that deliver sequences of audio tones (layered with wideband noise) to both ears, which is combined with electrical stimulation pulses delivered to 32 electrodes on the tip of the tongue by a proprietary device called the Tonguetip. Timing, intensity, and delivery of the stimuli are self-controlled by an easy-to-use handheld controller. Before first using the device, it is configured to a patient’s hearing profile and optimized to the patient’s sensitivity level for tongue stimulation.

In a study of the Lenire, 326 participants were instructed to use the device for 60 minutes daily for a period of 12 weeks. When treatment was completed, the participants returned their devices and were assessed at three follow-up visits for up to 12 months. About two-thirds of the participants affirmed they had benefited from using the device, with many experiencing sustained benefit 12 months post-treatment, and 77.8% said they would recommend it for other people with tinnitus.

“This study tracked the post-treatment therapeutic effects for 12 months, which is a first for the tinnitus field in evaluating the long-term outcomes of a medical device approach,” said Hubert Lim, PhD, of the University of Minnesota, and chief scientific officer of Neuromod Devices. “The outcomes are very exciting, and I look forward to continuing our work to develop a bimodal neuromodulation treatment to help as many tinnitus sufferers as possible.”

Tinnitus is the perception of sound within the human ear when no actual sound is present. It is not a disease, but a condition that can result from a wide range of underlying causes, including neurological damage, ear infections, oxidative stress, foreign objects, nasal allergies, wax build-up, and exposure to loud sounds. While it may be an accompaniment of sensorineural hearing loss or congenital hearing loss, or a side effect of certain medications, the most common cause is noise-induced hearing loss. Tinnitus is common, with about 20% of people between 55 and 65 years old report symptoms on a general health questionnaire, and 11.8% on more detailed tinnitus-specific questionnaires.

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