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Audiologist Focuses on Preventing Hearing Loss

10:08 AM
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An audiologist who recently opened her first practice in Centennial is inspiring change in the industry by putting a larger focus on preventative care.

Dr. Julie Link, Au.D., founder and owner of The Audiology Method near Orchard Road and Quebec Street, believes regular hearing health checks should become common practice, much like going to the dentist or optometrist for routine checkups.

Currently, the industry standard is heavily geared toward treatment for hearing loss, and although that is still a significant part of The Audiology Method’s business, Dr. Link says much more attention should be paid to prevention and conservation. That’s why she’s trying to capture an audience that traditionally has not had as much exposure to hearing health principles: people ages 20-65.

“People who don’t think they’re old enough for hearing health, those are the people that I gravitate towards, just because there’s nobody else really talking to them,” Dr. Link says.

Aside from reaching out to that age group, Dr. Link treats patients ages 5 and older for hearing loss. She was inspired to become an audiologist while growing up on a small family farm in her home state of Ohio. The loud noise exposure on the farms and factories she was exposed to was leaving her family and coworkers with communication problems.

The hearing loss leading to these communication breakdowns, in her mind, were completely avoidable, so she decided to pursue her Doctor of Audiology degree at Rush University in Chicago, where she had the opportunity to train in a variety of clinical settings including university hospitals, the VA hospital, Chicago community hospitals, ENT clinics, a hearing aid research and development center, and the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital. When she opened her clinic at 7180 E. Orchard Rd., Suite 302, in Centennial in April, her goal was simple: to help people keep their hearing so they don’t go through the social difficulties and depression that can accompany even mild hearing loss.

Dr. Link treats those with noise-induced hearing loss as well as patients who suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes and other conditions that lead to hearing loss. New aural devices are being introduced to the public and more advancements in hearing science and technology have been achieved, making this an exciting time to be in the industry. A few of Dr. Link’s patients have even been involved in clinical trials at Cochlear, which has its North American headquarters in Centennial. 

When Dr. Link sees a patient with hearing loss for the first time, she conducts a functional communication assessment to determine hearing deficiencies. She then builds a customized plan to meet each patient’s needs, and they set goals together during a fully-transparent process that’s meant to not only curb further damage, but to make treatment more accessible and affordable.  

Dr. Link looks at a patient’s caffeine intake, sleep patterns and even medications, 90 percent of which have a known potential side effect on hearing and balance. She also takes a holistic approach to helping patient’s manage stress-induced hearing loss and tinnitus difficulties. 

Colorado is an ideal location to open her first  clinic because Dr. Link says the population is generally more proactive in their health and preventative measures than in other parts of the country. She said she is particularly proud to be in Centennial, and received a warm welcome from the business community when more than 60 people showed up for The Audiology Method’s official ribbon-cutting ceremony in early September.

In the coming months, Dr. Link can be found behind a booth  handing out free earplugs to patrons at local festivals and places like the Centennial Gun Club with a sign that reads, “How loud is too loud?” She demonstrates the level of noise exposure in environments that are familiar to Colorado residents, like a Denver Broncos game, and educates them about the potential long-term impacts of prolonged exposure on their hearing. 

Meanwhile, Dr. Link is working on changing the model in her field by engaging people early on, working on prevention and establishing a relationship before patients experience hearing loss. She acknowledges that her heart and soul go into plans that help patients prep for their everyday life. 

Dr. Link, who serves on several committees and task forces for the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (she helped write the standards for the nation being published this month) and the board of the Colorado Academy of Audiology, says her favorite part of the job is helping people in tangible ways. She quotes Helen Keller, saying “Vision connects us to things and hearing connects us to people,” to sum up her mission. 

“Being able to work on communication is so rewarding, whether that’s between a husband and wife, a dad and daughter,” Dr. Link said. “I get to hear the laughter and see the smiles once they can hear each other again, and that’s huge.”

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