The new USC Sound Professional and Vocal Performer Center in USC Keck School of Medicine opens at the end of the year and will cover care for “elite listeners,” as it works to use information for ear research.
The center will offer specialized help involving the ears, nose and throat. While the clinic can assist anyone, it is catered to those who use their voice and hearing for their professional lives, including individuals working in sound production, professionals in the entertainment industry and politicians.
“They use their ears, their hearing, for what they do everyday,” said John Oghalai, the otolaryngology department chair. “We [also] have a lot of singers, and people that use their throats for their instruments too, and they often are having a lot of more complex voice issues than regular users.”
Normal hearing tests do not always pick up subtle issues, Oghalai said. The new center hopes to provide opportunities for advanced testing to help people with more specific issues.
In addition to service, the clinic will also focus on research. When an individual chooses to have an appointment, they volunteer for a multi-disciplinary, three to four hour visit aimed to help the evaluation center improve its services.
For one of the hearing tests, the ear creates an “echo” of the noise that can be recorded with a sensitive microphone, according to professor of otolaryngology Carolina Abdala.
“We have created a test to use the information [from the echos] to tell how healthy the ear is,” Abdala said. “It might be able to discover pathologies that are so nuanced that audiogram, a basic hearing test, misses.”
This test, Abdala adds, could then help with future intervention or technology like hearing aids.