By: Dr. Jane Watson
Clinical Audiologist and owner of Audicles Hearing Services, San Antonio Texas
It was only six weeks ago that I started trying LACE in my practice, and I’ve already become a convert. My motivation wasn’t reducing returns, as the return rate in our clinic is minimal. My introduction to LACE was a lecture by Dr. Robert Sweetow a few years ago. What finally got me started was a number of patients coming to us with articles or other information about LACE. I decided to try it out on patients with a variety of hearing losses to see how much of a difference it would make to them. To maximize my chances of initial success, I deliberately picked bright, active people who I thought would be diligent about doing LACE at home and was happy that all six patients I offered LACE to jumped at it. The woman with the greatest hearing loss is a candidate for a cochlear implant; I was very impressed that LACE works for her. She likes the helpful hints the most, and even quotes them to me! She has done all 20 sessions and felt like she got some important information and coping skills.
The patient doesn’t have to be a computer whiz to do LACE, as it’s very user-friendly. I’ve gotten a few phone calls from these early users about not doing so well and getting a bit discouraged. I’ve told them to persevere with the sessions and be consistent about doing it at a particular time every day when they’re not feeling tired. One patient with an enjoyable sense of humor said she was delighted to be doing something besides waiting for the hearing aids to kick in.
How do I benefit personally from LACE? Well, it makes me feel that I’m providing more than just hearing aids and working more together with my patients to optimize their communication abilities. Two things become clear to the patient: they have to take responsibility for their auditory training, and they have to have realistic expectations about what they are going to accomplish. I’ve done three LACE sessions myself so far, and I have to say they’re hard! It’s not just a walk in the park. I believe every practitioner who is going to dispense LACE should go through the training themselves. It can make us a little more compassionate about our patient’s everyday challenges and gain a better understanding of what it’s like to have a hearing loss.
Doing LACE myself has also helped set my own expectations about LACE. These first three sessions were enough for me to reach the ‘aha!’ moment and experience what LACE is actually doing to the brain, and I’m excited about finishing the rest of the 20 sessions. And like my most challenged patient, I especially like the helpful hints and communication strategies. From a practical standpoint, having LACE present all this information means that they get reinforcement of the counseling I do on the day of delivery.
So, after just six weeks and positive results from all my initial LACE users, I’m convinced that LACE needs to be an integral part of our hearing aid dispensing protocol. I feel very comfortable asking most of my patients to do the program when they get their new aids.