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Release: Sept. 2, 1999

Seventh annual conference on tinnitus to be Sept. 30 - Oct. 2 at UI

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Ringing or buzzing in the ears -- a condition known as tinnitus -- affects millions of Americans and can range from being annoying to debilitating. At least 12 million people need professional assistance to manage this condition without a known cure. To help health professionals provide patients with advanced care, the University of Iowa will host its seventh "Annual Conference on Management of the Tinnitus Patient" Sept. 30 - Oct. 2.

The only event of its type in North America, the conference will be open to physicians, audiologists, psychologists and nurses who provide clinical tinnitus management services. People with tinnitus may also enroll. Early registration ends Sept. 15. Physicians and audiologists may be eligible to earn continuing education credits. For more information, contact Cheryl Schlote at
(319) 384-9757 or

"The conference is a nice opportunity to update professionals on available tinnitus treatments. In addition, the interaction with other professionals, as well as patient-participants, is often quite helpful," said Richard S. Tyler, Ph.D., event organizer and UI professor of otolaryngology, and speech pathology and audiology. "There's still no magic cure for tinnitus but there are many common sense things that people can do to manage the condition, including behavior modification."

Participants will be welcomed to this year's event with a reception on Thursday night,
Sept. 30, followed by two days of presentations Oct. 1 - 2. Sessions include discussion of behavior modification, such as getting patients to focus on something they enjoy doing so they don't think about their tinnitus or providing low levels of background noise or music to redirect their attention. Participants will also learn about electrical stimulation treatment under investigation by UI researchers Jay Rubinstein, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of otolaryngology, and Carolyn J, Brown, Ph.D., associate professor of speech pathology and audiology.

The conference is sponsored by the UI department of otolaryngology - head and neck surgery, the department of speech pathology and audiology, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and audiology and speech pathology services. UI faculty from the departments of family medicine and psychiatry will also serve as conference faculty.

Jack Vernon, Ph.D., emeritus professor of otolaryngology at the Health Sciences University in Portland, Ore., will be the special guest of honor. Tyler described Vernon as "one of the first professionals worldwide who began making direct efforts 20 years ago to provide help for people with tinnitus."

Tyler initiated the annual conference in 1993 when he saw that professionals in otolaryngology, audiology and psychology were not always aware of what could be done to help patients with tinnitus. Previously limited to professionals, the conference began to include patients two years ago. The event provides patients with more information about tinnitus, however, individualized diagnosis or treatment is not offered.

"We usually end up with four or five patients as participants," Tyler said. "Their insights are often quite helpful in suggesting how professionals might modify their therapies, and the patients themselves seem to get a concrete foundation of what treatments are available for them."

In addition to Tyler, UI faculty for the conference include Paul Abbas, Ph.D., professor of speech pathology and audiology; Bruce Grantz, M.D., professor and head of otolaryngology; Brian F. McCabe, M.D., emeritus professor of otolaryngology; Christy Novak, Ph.D., clinical psychologist in speech pathology; Richard J. Smith, M.D., professor of otolaryngology; Catherine Woodman, M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry; and David Young, biofeedback therapist in family medicine.

Editors: This release is about a conference designed for audiology and medical professionals but open to the public with a Sept. 15 registration date. Professor Richard Tyler will not be available for interviews, but we can put reporters in touch with Abby Wolaver, UI audiologist in otolaryngology, or Cheryl Schlote, secretary in otolaryngology, for additional information.