Tinnitus retraining therapy is a scientific approach for tinnitus treatment.
TRT has had some success when it comes to reducing tinnitus impairment in patients.
When measured, the sounds produced by tinnitus are not loud.
However, the individual’s perception of the volume of the noise created is in the brain and can be explained as the result of a negative learning process.
This in turn will increase the person’s attention towards the sound of ringing in the ears to the point of dominance.
How Tinnitus Retraining Therapy can help
TRT will focus on reversing the patient’s learning process, with the goal in mind to perceive the sound of ringing in the ears less intensely.
This will call for the close work of an interdisciplinary team including audiologists, psychologists and physicians.
Tinnitus retraining therapy doesn’t disclaim that the patient can actually hear the ringing in the ears, in fact, the modern exam methods used such as PET scans can actually show the specific sound activity in the patient’s brain cortex.
Regardless of how tinnitus is caused, at some point the sound of ringing in the ears will become independent. Because of this the tinnitus will persist even if the acoustic nerves in the ears are cut.
This means, even if there is no possible way for the noise to be carried from the ears to the brain the sound will still persist.
At this point tinnitus can become what is considered as an independent entity.
Unlike other types of background noise, the brain will be unable to shut out the noise from conscious awareness.
The sound of ringing in the ears will no longer come from the ears but will instead become centralized, with strong involvement of the limbic system, which is the seat of a person’s emotions.
This can explain why so many different types of treatment that only target the inner ear are not successful.
The Goals of TRT
The goal of tinnitus retraining therapy is to lower the patient’s awareness level to the point where the ringing in the ears is unable to dominate their perception. However, TRT doesn’t promise a cure.
One benefit of this treatment is that it can work, regardless of what caused the tinnitus, which is usually difficult to determine.
The aim for this therapy is to improve the patient’s quality of life.
It will give the patient a clear perspective. Another benefit is the requirement of active patient participation.
This is considered a long term therapy that will target lasting improvement.
Typically, TRT will last for a period of three months to two years.
The therapy is composed of three components: wearing a tinnitus control instrument during a relaxation session, psychological consultation and counseling. Each aspect of retraining is very important when it comes to the success of this therapy.
For many people, counseling will be the most important element. Counseling will aim for the patient to develop a thorough understanding of the mechanisms that lead to the development of tinnitus.
Only a solid understanding of tinnitus will allow the patient to reevaluate the condition and develop a personal strategy for how to manage and cope with it.