The sense of hearing and balance: advanced diagnosis and substitution

PI:       
Prof. R J Stokroos
Prof. H. Kingma

Research Staff:   
Dr. L. J. C Anteunis
Dr. J Brokx
Dr. E. George

PhD-students:   
Diane Smit
Guido Dees
Darius Henatsch
Raymond van de Berg
Niels Guinand
Joke Debruyne
Remo Arts
Jasper Smit
Mark van Hoof
Sanne Wagemakers
Janny Hof
Elke Devocht
Simone Schaefer
Tim Calon

Co-investigators extern:
Pro. E. Formisano (FPN)
Prof. Y. Temel
Prof. Ph Gyot (universite de Geneve)
Prof. Dan Jiang (Londen)
Prof. Boris Kramer
Dr. D Kunst (KU Nijmegen)
Prof. K van Overbeeke

Focus of research:   
Translational research into the etiology of disorders of the senses of hearing and balance and the effect of neuromodulation with neuroprosthetic devices. 

Hearing and balance problems are among the most prevalent health problems in our population.
Our research efforts are divided in three subcategories:

Tinnitus
Basic research aims to unravel central nervous mechanisms causing tinnitus by using FMRI and animal models and the potential of neuromodulation using deep brain stimulation. This translates into clinical application wherein a specific neuromodulatory device, a tinnitus suppression implant has been applied. This has attracted a great number of patients for which a care system was put in place which is systematically evaluated and improved further. Valorisation of this tinnitus care system is important since the new Dutch care standards are currently based on it.  

Hearing
Optimizing the diagnostics of hearing loss at a very young age has been systematically studied, aimed at improving both measuring instruments and at early detection and intervention. Special attention has been addressed to basic mechanisms causing hearing damage in premature infants. Bilateral deafness treatment by cochlear implantation has been institutionalized at MUMC+. Research efforts are focused on optimizing coding strategies, on improving electrode placement using advanced fusion imaging, and on optimizing electrical and acoustic (bimodal) hearing. Single sided deafness is treated using bone conductive hearing. Research efforts are focused on optimizing abutment-skin interaction and at clinical evaluation of the Soundbite device (hearing via the teeth). Sensorineural hearing loss is treated with hearing aids. Hearing aid provision has been studied from a cost effectiveness point of view.       

Balance
Advanced diagnosis and treatment possibilities of vestibular disorders have attracted many patients to our MUMC+. New medical and surgical treatment strategies became available for balance disorders, for example  using the round window membrane as a pathway to the inner ear. However, for an important proportion of these patients , neuromodulatory devices remain the sole treatment option.  In collaboration with Geneva and industrial partners a vestibular implant has been developed which substitutes a defect vestibular system and is currently evaluated and developed further.