Alumni Profile: Cerys Downing ('09)

"Being able to hear your teacher and classmates is essential for children’s learning in a school environment, yet recent research has shown that up to 13% of Australian school children do not have adequate hearing acuity on any given day. My PhD project will investigate new diagnostic methods to improve our ability to identify mild to moderate degrees of hearing loss caused by problems in the middle ear that may otherwise go unnoticed.

The new test that I’m investigating is called Wideband Tympanometry. It is a quick, non-invasive test, and only requires a child to sit still to get an accurate results. Wideband tympanometry measures how sound is absorbed by the middle ear under changes in air pressure, and allows audiologists to detect changes in middle ear function across a wider range of frequencies than ever before. This test has the potential to provide children and parents with earlier and more accurate diagnoses of specific middle ear problems, and help them to receive the treatment they need to recover from their hearing loss as soon as possible.

Northside has helped me with this important research by offering free hearing tests to the Prep and Year 1 students. These students received an advanced, comprehensive hearing test that incorporated Wideband Tympanometry along with standard tests provided by our UQ team of Masters of Audiology Students, Associate Professor Joseph Kei and myself. Seventy-five Northside students were able to benefit from this service and, to date, another 1562 students from 8 other schools across South East Queensland in being involved in this crucial first step in my PhD project. This research wouldn’t be possible without the generous participation of schools like Northside, and we would like to extend our thanks to the greater Northside community for their support of research and our goal to improve the standard of audiological care available in Australia. "

- Cerys Downing (Class of '09)

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