NIH launches 'nerve stimulation' trial to ease tinnitus

March 6, 2014
NIH launches 'Nerve stimulation' trial to ease tinnitus
Agency is seeking patients suffering from chronic 'ringing in the ears.'

(HealthDay)—Volunteers are being recruited for a clinical trial to test a new method to treat ringing in the ears, the troubling condition known as tinnitus.

The technique being studied uses nervous system stimulation to "rewire" parts of the brain in an attempt to significantly reduce or eliminate . If it proves successful, it could offer hope to millions of Americans with the disorder, according to the U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), which is funding the study.

"Tinnitus affects nearly 24 million adult Americans," NIDCD director Dr. James Battey Jr. said in a government news release. "It is also the number one service-connected disability for returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. The kind of nervous system stimuli used in this study has already been shown to safely and effectively help people with epilepsy or depression. This therapy could offer a profoundly better way to treat tinnitus."

During therapy, patients hear a series of single-frequency tones through headphones. At the same time, stimulation is delivered to the vagus nerve, which runs from the head and neck to the abdomen. When stimulated, the vagus nerve releases chemicals that can rewire the brain, the researchers explained in the news release.

Previous studies in rats and humans suggested that vagus nerve stimulation could be effective in reducing or eliminating tinnitus, according to the NIDCD.

The new clinical trial will include adults who have had moderate-to-severe tinnitus for at least a year. They will undergo daily 2.5-hour sessions of vagus-nerve stimulation and audio-tone therapy over six weeks.

The trial will be conducted at four centers through an agreement with a Dallas-based medical device company called MicroTransponder, Inc. The centers include the University of Texas at Dallas, University at Buffalo in New York and the University of Iowa. A fourth center will be announced later this year.

"This trial has the potential to open up a whole new world of tinnitus management," Dr. Gordon Hughes, director of at the NIDCD, said in the news release.

"Currently, we usually offer patients a hearing aid if they have hearing loss or a masking device if they don't," Hughes said. "None of these treatments cures tinnitus. But this new treatment offers the possibility of reducing or eliminating the bothersome perception of tinnitus in some patients."

Explore further: Trial results positive for tinnitus sufferers

More information: The American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery has more about tinnitus.

Related Stories

Trial results positive for tinnitus sufferers

November 21, 2013
UT Dallas researchers have demonstrated that treating tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, using vagus nerve stimulation-tone therapy is safe and brought significant improvement to some of the participants in a small clinical ...

Research gives new hope to tinnitus patients

February 5, 2014
A research project, led by the University of Liverpool and Aintree University Hospital, is giving new hope to patients living with tinnitus.

Doctors aim to help stroke patients overcome disability by helping rewire their brains

January 28, 2013
Researchers at the University of Glasgow are hoping to help victims of stroke to overcome physical disabilities by helping their brains to 'rewire' themselves.

Brain stimulation aims to speed up tinnitus treatment

June 12, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—A combination of brain stimulation and video games may be the key to speeding up treatment for tinnitus sufferers.

Researchers find early success in new treatment for stroke recovery

October 1, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Researchers at The University of Texas at Dallas have taken a step toward developing a new treatment to aid the recovery of limb function after strokes.

Recommended for you

The neural codes for body movements

July 21, 2017
A small patch of neurons in the brain can encode the movements of many body parts, according to researchers in the laboratory of Caltech's Richard Andersen, James G. Boswell Professor of Neuroscience, Tianqiao and Chrissy ...

Faulty support cells disrupt communication in brains of people with schizophrenia

July 20, 2017
New research has identified the culprit behind the wiring problems in the brains of people with schizophrenia. When researchers transplanted human brain cells generated from individuals diagnosed with childhood-onset schizophrenia ...

Scientists reveal how patterns of brain activity direct specific body movements

July 20, 2017
New research by Columbia scientists offers fresh insight into how the brain tells the body to move, from simple behaviors like walking, to trained movements that may take years to master. The discovery in mice advances knowledge ...

Scientists discover combined sensory map for heat, humidity in fly brain

July 20, 2017
Northwestern University neuroscientists now can visualize how fruit flies sense and process humidity and temperature together through a "sensory map" within their brains, according to new research.

Team traces masculinization in mice to estrogen receptor in inhibitory neurons

July 20, 2017
Researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) have opened a black box in the brain whose contents explain one of the remarkable yet mysterious facts of life.

Speech language therapy delivered through the Internet leads to similar improvements as in-person treatment

July 20, 2017
Telerehabilitation helps healthcare professionals reach more patients in need, but some worry it doesn't offer the same quality of care as in-person treatment. This isn't the case, according to recent research by Baycrest.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.