INTRODUCTION TO HEARING LOSS
Did you know that around 466 million people worldwide have the disability of hearing loss? According to The World Health Organization (WHO), the 466 million will increase to 900 million by 2050! Additionally, The National Health Service (NHS) conducted research and found that in the United Kingdom there are 11 million people (1 in every 6 people) with the disability of hearing loss. Unfortunately, this number is expected to increase to 14.5 million (1 in every 4.5 people) by 2031.
THE COST OF HEARING LOSS
Research shows that hearing loss causes discomfort to people’s daily lives, leading to serious mental illness’ such as dementia. Hearing loss can also lead to tremendous social-economic impacts. Each year, worldwide, we lose US$980 billion due to the unemployment of people with the disability of hearing loss. NHS England spent around £450 in 2011 to manage the problem of hearing loss. Given the number of case increases, if by 2031 there is no action taken, these costs are expected to rise.
One big challenge for the NHS is the cost for cure and treatments for hearing loss. Additionally, the limited resources and long waiting time are becoming a challenge. According to statistics published by the NHS, at the end of July 2018, 72,617 of 122,637 patients were waiting for Direct Access Audiology Treatment (Incomplete pathways). The average waiting time was 3.7 weeks, with many patients waiting up to 16.7 weeks. However, 95.9% of patients were seen within 18 weeks. Audiology treatment includes hearing tests, speech tests, the fitting and consultations of hearing aids, auditory training, hearing rehabilitation, and more.
IMPLEMENTING AI ALGORITHMS TO COMBAT HEARING LOSS
With modern technology, AI algorithms are applied in entertainment, industrial, automotive, economic, and medical fields. These algorithms improve people’s daily lives. However, there is not yet an AI technology that helps to prevent or improve hearing loss disability. For my University thesis, I developed a project to contribute and support the healthcare system, especially hearing loss disability. Using the application of a Deep neural network, my goal is to prevent and diagnose hearing loss early.
At the heart of this project, is the will to contribute knowledge. Ultimately, we hope to inform and improve the lives of people with a hearing disability. Moreover, the project aims for a breakthrough in the medical field. My goal is to deliver a tool capable of supporting the medical field and to work side-by-side with doctors to make a significant impact in the scientific and social community. Especially for those with the diagnosis of hearing loss.
Written by: Samuele Calabrese – Software Engineer