Early Detection and Treatment of Hearing Loss May Stave off Dementia

By: Nigel Whittle
Head of Medical & Healthcare

29th November 2019

4 minute read

Home » Smart Cities

In a recent landmark study, researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Centre in New York have demonstrated a clear link between hearing loss and impairment of memory and cognitive skills.[1]

Previous investigations had already indicated a connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline, but those studies only examined people already diagnosed with hearing loss, defined as the inability to hear sounds below 25dB. This current study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, has taken the investigation a step further.

A team led by hearing specialist Justin Golub MD studied data from 6,451 adults with an average age of 59 who took hearing and cognitive tests. They found that for every 10dB increase in the lower limit of hearing, there was a significant decrease in cognitive ability. Moreover, the largest decrease occurred in those whose hearing was just starting to become impaired – just 10dB off normal hearing capability, when hearing is still considered normal.

This is significant as age-related hearing loss affects about two-thirds of the elderly over 70, while only 14% of American adults with hearing loss wear a hearing aid.

“Most people with hearing loss believe they can go about their lives just fine without treatment and maybe some can,” says Golub. “But hearing loss is not benign. It has been linked to social isolation, depression, cognitive decline and dementia. Hearing loss should be treated. This study suggests the earlier, the better.”

The current study could not prove that hearing loss caused cognitive impairment and it is possible that declines in both hearing and cognitive performance are related to common ageing-related processes. But the study’s design suggests a causal link: “It’s possible that people who don’t hear well tend to socialise less. Over many years this could have a negative impact on cognition.” Golub said that if that were the case, preventing or treating hearing loss could reduce the incidence of dementia.

Plextek Technology

Plextek has developed innovative hearing analysis technology that can reliably detect early signs of hearing loss well before a person becomes aware of the symptoms. It has been designed for integration within standard everyday consumer headphones and has been described as a potential ‘game-changer’ in the prevention of tinnitus and hearing loss.

“This clinical study indicates the importance of early detection of hearing loss, allowing remedial action to be taken in a timely manner. The data strongly validates our approach to hearing loss and we are excited about the impact that our technology could have on the rising incidence of dementia”, said Dr Nigel Whittle, Head of Medical & Healthcare.

If you would like to chat further to our medical team, please email hello@Plextek.com to set up a call.

 


[1]‘Association of Subclinical Hearing Loss With Cognitive Performance’, Golub, JS; Brickman, AM; Ciarleglio, AJ; et al. JAMA Otolaryngol. Head Neck Surg. November 14, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamaoto.2019.3375

In a recent landmark study, researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Centre in New York have demonstrated a clear link between hearing loss and impairment of memory and cognitive skills.[1]

Previous investigations had already indicated a connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline, but those studies only examined people already diagnosed with hearing loss, defined as the inability to hear sounds below 25dB. This current study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, has taken the investigation a step further.

A team led by hearing specialist Justin Golub MD studied data from 6,451 adults with an average age of 59 who took hearing and cognitive tests. They found that for every 10dB increase in the lower limit of hearing, there was a significant decrease in cognitive ability. Moreover, the largest decrease occurred in those whose hearing was just starting to become impaired – just 10dB off normal hearing capability, when hearing is still considered normal.

This is significant as age-related hearing loss affects about two-thirds of the elderly over 70, while only 14% of American adults with hearing loss wear a hearing aid.

“Most people with hearing loss believe they can go about their lives just fine without treatment and maybe some can,” says Golub. “But hearing loss is not benign. It has been linked to social isolation, depression, cognitive decline and dementia. Hearing loss should be treated. This study suggests the earlier, the better.”

The current study could not prove that hearing loss caused cognitive impairment and it is possible that declines in both hearing and cognitive performance are related to common ageing-related processes. But the study’s design suggests a causal link: “It’s possible that people who don’t hear well tend to socialise less. Over many years this could have a negative impact on cognition.” Golub said that if that were the case, preventing or treating hearing loss could reduce the incidence of dementia.

Plextek Technology

Plextek has developed innovative hearing analysis technology that can reliably detect early signs of hearing loss well before a person becomes aware of the symptoms. It has been designed for integration within standard everyday consumer headphones and has been described as a potential ‘game-changer’ in the prevention of tinnitus and hearing loss.

“This clinical study indicates the importance of early detection of hearing loss, allowing remedial action to be taken in a timely manner. The data strongly validates our approach to hearing loss and we are excited about the impact that our technology could have on the rising incidence of dementia”, said Dr Nigel Whittle, Head of Medical & Healthcare.

If you would like to chat further to our medical team, please email hello@Plextek.com to set up a call.

 


[1]‘Association of Subclinical Hearing Loss With Cognitive Performance’, Golub, JS; Brickman, AM; Ciarleglio, AJ; et al. JAMA Otolaryngol. Head Neck Surg. November 14, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamaoto.2019.3375

Nigel Whittle, Head of Medical & Healthcare, features in Cambridge Wireless News article today on How 5G Could Transform the Delivery of Healthcare.

“The next telecommunication revolution is just around the corner: 5G or fifth-generation cellular wireless holds out the promise of downloading data at least 10x faster than today’s 4G services. 5G operates primarily on the millimetre spectrum – the band between 30 GHz and 300 GHz – (although other parts of the spectrum may be used for specialist purposes) and is able to transmit large packets of data quickly without clogging the network. The first noticeable change for consumers will be the fast delivery of communications and entertainment to mobile and fixed devices completely wirelessly.”

To read the full article Click Here.

6 November 2019: Plextek-DTS (Defence Technology Solutions) has been awarded two contracts under the £2 million Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) competition to develop new capabilities to detect, disrupt, and defeat the hostile and malicious use of drones.

Both contracts build on Plextek’s world-leading research and experience in Low Size Weight and Power (SWaP) radio systems. The first project focuses on the development of innovative signal detection and jamming capability to detect and defeat hostile drones while ensuring that non-hostile systems in the vicinity are not affected. For the second project, Plextek-DTS will develop a miniature radar that can be integrated into airborne drones in order to detect, track and accurately target hostile drones.

The competition run by DASA – the MOD’s innovation hub – on behalf of Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), is the latest stage in Dstl’s ongoing research programme into countering unmanned air systems (UAS). The competition is also supported by the Department for Transport and NATO to counter the rapidly evolving threats from UAS.

“Drones are increasingly being used to conduct hostile activities due to their relatively low cost, ease of deployment and lack of technologies to adequately counter them,” said Dr. Aled Catherall, Head of Technology, at Plextek-DTS. “The threat posed is advancing rapidly and drones are being used effectively against military targets and to disrupt critical national infrastructure. New technologies to counter the drone threat is therefore required and the two projects awarded to Plextek-DTS will help to provide a significant step towards achieving an effective counter-drone capability.”

For more information about the DASA competition, please visit: https://bit.ly/34BLjZQ

For more information from Plextek-DTS, call Edwina Mullins on +44 (0) 1799 533200 or email: press@plextek.com or visit: www.plextek-dts.com

Railway Revolution

Nicholas Hill, Plextek

By: Nicholas Hill
CEO

5th November 2019

3 minute read

Home » Smart Cities

If you view the railway network as still lodged in the Victorian era, you should think again. A revolution in rail travel is in progress. Ever-increasing road congestion and worsening global warming are pushing more traffic onto the rail network and will continue to do so. Rail travel is an inherently efficient method of moving both people and goods in an environmentally sustainable manner.

We can build more routes, but the existing rail network needs to move more people and more goods every day. This means running more trains, more frequently and more sustainably.

But to push more trains onto the track, train spacing must be greatly reduced. This requires a revolution in train management, abolishing fixed track sections and creating new systems for detecting the precise location of trains, automated control across the network, highly sophisticated scheduling and more robust safety systems.

Building a sustainable network

Further improvements to sustainability will see the removal of diesel traction, replaced by further track electrification and battery or hydrogen fuel cell-powered trains. Rolling stock will also use advanced materials to reduce weight, regenerative braking to conserve power and more intelligent power control. Routing slow goods traffic in between passenger trains is difficult and inefficient and will be done at night when currently, routes are often closed for manual inspection.

Happily, manual inspection will become a thing of the past as track and rolling stock monitoring is performed by automated and robotic systems. Track, overheads and rolling stock will be fitted with extensive sensing for continuous monitoring and diagnostics. Further sensors built into track and overheads will monitor rolling stock while conversely, sensors built into rolling stock will monitor track and overheads, at full train operating speeds. Robotic trains and autonomous drones operating beyond-line-of-sight will conduct automated surveys. Sophisticated data exploitation techniques will process and examine all this data to look for trends in wear and defects, predicting potential failure before it happens and improving network up-time.

All about the passenger

All the above will benefit the passenger experience, through improved punctuality, better reliability and more frequent services. But this is only a start. Better management of passenger flows at busy stations will direct travellers to the most appropriate train carriage. Improved security screening techniques will keep people safe without impeding the flow, while accurate real-time passenger information will make travel decisions easier to make.

This revolution demands a strong culture of innovation to drive radical changes in train operating practice. It also requires the very best of current technology, including advanced sensing, ubiquitous communications, powerful but trustworthy data processing and enhanced autonomy.

If you need to be sure you are building the very best of current technology into your products and systems, do give us a call. We’d love to talk about how we can help you create the railway revolution.

If you view the railway network as still lodged in the Victorian era, you should think again. A revolution in rail travel is in progress. Ever-increasing road congestion and worsening global warming are pushing more traffic onto the rail network and will continue to do so. Rail travel is an inherently efficient method of moving both people and goods in an environmentally sustainable manner.

We can build more routes, but the existing rail network needs to move more people and more goods every day. This means running more trains, more frequently and more sustainably.

But to push more trains onto the track, train spacing must be greatly reduced. This requires a revolution in train management, abolishing fixed track sections and creating new systems for detecting the precise location of trains, automated control across the network, highly sophisticated scheduling and more robust safety systems.

Building a sustainable network

Further improvements to sustainability will see the removal of diesel traction, replaced by further track electrification and battery or hydrogen fuel cell-powered trains. Rolling stock will also use advanced materials to reduce weight, regenerative braking to conserve power and more intelligent power control. Routing slow goods traffic in between passenger trains is difficult and inefficient and will be done at night when currently, routes are often closed for manual inspection.

Happily, manual inspection will become a thing of the past as track and rolling stock monitoring is performed by automated and robotic systems. Track, overheads and rolling stock will be fitted with extensive sensing for continuous monitoring and diagnostics. Further sensors built into track and overheads will monitor rolling stock while conversely, sensors built into rolling stock will monitor track and overheads, at full train operating speeds. Robotic trains and autonomous drones operating beyond-line-of-sight will conduct automated surveys. Sophisticated data exploitation techniques will process and examine all this data to look for trends in wear and defects, predicting potential failure before it happens and improving network up-time.

All about the passenger

All the above will benefit the passenger experience, through improved punctuality, better reliability and more frequent services. But this is only a start. Better management of passenger flows at busy stations will direct travellers to the most appropriate train carriage. Improved security screening techniques will keep people safe without impeding the flow, while accurate real-time passenger information will make travel decisions easier to make.

This revolution demands a strong culture of innovation to drive radical changes in train operating practice. It also requires the very best of current technology, including advanced sensing, ubiquitous communications, powerful but trustworthy data processing and enhanced autonomy.

If you need to be sure you are building the very best of current technology into your products and systems, do give us a call. We’d love to talk about how we can help you create the railway revolution.

Nigel Whittle, Head of Medical & Healthcare, features in Critical Communications Today this week.

Drones have the potential to revolutionise public safety operations in areas such as fire and rescue. But there are regulatory and logistical barriers.

Drones are also being used in remote areas for the transfer of biological samples to hospitals, says Dr Nigel Whittle, head of medical and healthcare at Plextek. He points to an overseas company based in Indonesia. “They have a drone system to carry samples. They have navigation and control aspects and they need cameras and radars to help fly and avoid obstacles. We offer a sense-and-avoid radar system which can detect power lines. There are lots of these throughout the islands and you need to avoid them.”

Plextek’s sense-and-avoid millimetre-wave radar system operates at 60GHz. “It’s more for reconnaissance purposes – to fly around buildings, for example,” says Dr Whittle. “With a camera, you might not see obstacles, but with a millimetre-wave radar you might – and it works in bad weather too.”

To read the full article Click Here.