A computerized therapeutic prototype is useful for treating tinnitus

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The head-to-head comparison was carried out in around 60 subjects recruited at a tinnitus support meeting – split roughly equally between the UpSilent and White Noise groups – over 12 weeks. At the end of follow-up there was a higher proportion of responders with the prototype, measured using the Tinnitus Functional Index (TFI) symptom scale.

The UpSilent prototype, developed by researchers at the University of Auckland, consisted of a smartphone app, Bluetooth bone conduction headphones and neck pillow speaker and a cloud-based dashboard that clinicians can use to enable messaging and personalise the digital treatment. It was compared in the study to an already-available free app – TMSOFT`s White Noise Lite – which is described by the researchers as “a popular self-help passive sound therapy app.”

Highlights

  • The results were just published in the journal Frontiers in Neurology. “This is more important than some of our previous studies and may have a direct impact on future treatments for tinnitus,” said Grant Searchfield, associate professor of audiology at the University of Auckland. I was. Researcher Phil Sanders has it. “What this therapy does is essentially rewire the brain so that tinnitus sounds are reduced to background noise that has no meaning or relevance to the listener,” he added.

  • A statistically higher proportion of UpSilent users achieved a clinically meaningful, 13-point or greater reduction in TFI scores at six weeks (55%) and 12 weeks (65%), compared to the active control app (33% and 43%, respectively). The prototype was no better than the comparator on other measures, including patient rating scales and the Client Oriented Scale of Improvement in Tinnitus (COSIT) scale, but was found to be just as usable as the free app.

According to the company, TinniTracks’ digital therapy app uses algorithms that can convert music-listening patients to neuroacoustic therapy if the patient’s tinnitus frequency is known. The German-reimbursed app filters out the patient’s individual tinnitus frequencies from the music, reducing stimulation of hyperactive neurons in the hearing center of the brain associated with the disorder.

According to the researchers, the next step is to refine the prototype and conduct larger local and international studies with a view to FDA approval. They hope the app will be clinically available in about six months. Other groups have attempted to combat tinnitus with digital health interventions. Last month, UK startup Oto raised £2.8m ($3.3m) in seed funding to develop more apps offering a range of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness, doctor’s exercises and relaxation techniques effects of tinnitus.

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