Neuromonics Tinnitus Treatment (Part 2)


In September 2003 I started my own independent audiology
practice in Bondi Junction, Sydney. The mission of the new clinic
was to offer independent and unbiased cutting edge techniques and
technology in all aspects of audiology.


Around the same time Professor Phillip Newall, head of audiology at
Macquarie University, introduced me to Neuromonics CEO Dr Peter
Hanley. After 10 years “in the making”, Neuromonics was looking at
launching a new tinnitus treatment in Sydney. For the previous 10
years audiologist and inventor of the treatment, Dr Paul Davis had
been developing the technique as part of his PhD study at Curtin
University in Western Australia. The treatment had been submitted
for several clinical trials, the last one conducted at Macquarie
University.


I have known Dr Paul Davis for more than 10 years. Paul had
tinnitus and became interested in the field in an attempt to find
relief for himself. I had last spoken to Paul at length when he came
to see me in 1995 at St Vincent’s Tinnitus clinic. He was then
researching different models used by other clinics to assess and
treat tinnitus.


When I met Neuromonics CEO Dr Peter Hanley he introduced me to
the concept of the auditory desensitisation protocol (ADP)
developed by Paul Davies - I was most interested. I read all the
research papers and was pleased to find out that for the first time a
tinnitus treatment had been put through clinical trials before being
made available to the public. The results were good. Soon after,
Paul came to Sydney from Western Australia, now as the Chief
Scientific Officer of Neuromonics. We met again and had long and
interesting discussions about his tinnitus treatment.


Neuromonics was emerging as a new company at the same time as
my new clinic. We had similar visions and common interests. The
treatment results presented by reputable sources were encouraging.
It seemed logical to me to embrace the new treatment as part of
my clinical repertoire. In May 2004 I became the first independent
audiologist to provide the Neuromonics tinnitus treatment at my
practice in Bondi Junction.


What are the clinical results 12 months later?


It has been very satisfying to work with Neuromonics. The company
has proved to be extremely professional and supportive. The
welfare of the patients going through the treatment has been their
absolute first priority. The support given to the clinician has also
been outstanding. I went through extensive training before
becoming accredited to provide the treatment.


To date I have 4 patients who have completed the treatment and
another 15 going through it. The process takes an average of 6
months to complete. It is not a cure for tinnitus, and has never claimed to be.
Like other medical treatments, it is not suitable for
every patient. A thorough audiological assessment is mandatory
prior to deciding the appropriate treatment for each individual
tinnitus case.


My patients who have completed the treatment showed excellent
results. After following the treatment for 6 months they were no
longer disturbed by their tinnitus and regained their quality of life.
Most of the patients who are undergoing the treatment are showing
very positive progress. It may take longer to complete in some
cases depending on individual issues. Two patients, unfortunately,
have dropped out as they could not fit the treatment into their daily
lives. It takes commitment on the part of the patient to go through
the whole process with the support of the audiologist. The
treatment involves listening to the customised sound processor
(built according to the patient’s hearing and tinnitus profile) for a
minimum of 2 hours a day, together with face to face and telephone
counselling with the audiologist.


Neuromonics is not the only form of tinnitus treatment adopted at
my clinic. Each individual case requires specific approaches. After
12 months experience with the new treatment, I continue to have
no hesitation in recommending it to those patients who meet the
suitability criteria.


Why is this treatment so expensive?


As an audiologist in private practice I do believe the cost of the
Neuromonics tinnitus treatment to the patient is high, but not
prohibitive for most. The typical cost of the treatment is roughly
equivalent to the cost of a pair of digital hearing aids.
Unfortunately very few health treatments are still available free of
charge in this country. Any form of one to one therapy for chronic
conditions is costly. Psychological counselling, physiotherapy and
speech therapy for example, may cost thousands of dollars for some
people who need to go through years of weekly treatment to
achieve results.


Medicare and private health funds still do not provide a rebate for
the Neuromonics tinnitus treatment. The fee received by the
audiologist to provide this treatment is no different than the
average hourly rate earned by any audiologist in private practice.
A substantial part of the cost is related to R&D (research and
development) of the processor. The treatment was developed and
based on 10 years of full-time research. Venture capitalists invested
millions of dollars to make it clinically available. Scientists, lawyers
and accountants amongst other professionals, were employed to
seek and receive a patent, TGA and FDA approval. Marketing and
advertising of the treatment also increases the price. Unfortunately,
these costs need to be recovered and paid by the end user.

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©2005, Celene McNeill

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