Audiology Program

Untreated hearing loss can negatively impact your quality of life, social and emotional well-being. It can affect your ability to understand speech, learn in a group setting or participate in discussions. However, hearing loss can be treated either medically or through rehabilitation and is not necessarily a handicapping condition.

Brigham and Women's Hospital audiologists provides comprehensive, collaborative and patient-centered hearing healthcare for patients of all ages. Our audiologists assess hearing prior to consultation with the otolaryngologist, provide pre-operative and post-operative evaluations and assist in the diagnosis of hearing and vestibular problems. Seeing an audiologist can help determine the type and degree of hearing loss and a course of action to improve hearing and/or lessen its impact.

Audiology Program Topics

Mission

We strive to be leaders in caring patient services, improved patient outcomes, and excellence in hearing healthcare education and research. By providing the most appropriate and evidence-based audiologic treatment plan, our goal is to help each person overcome the consequences of hearing loss and achieve his or her individual communication goals.

  • We provide care through state-of-the-art audiological assessment and rehabilitative clinical services to improve outcomes that impact the patient’s quality of life.
  • We train the next generation of doctoral audiology students and otolaryngology residents by offering continuing education experiences to our own staff and community professionals.
  • We foster an active research program to increase evidence-based knowledge to inform clinical services.
Clinical Services

The Audiology Program at BWH provides comprehensive services for both hearing and vestibular disorders. Clinical services include:

  • Behavioral and physiologic diagnostic testing
  • Comprehensive hearing aid services
  • Newborn hearing screening
Audiologists

Mallory Brown, Au.D., CCC-A is a clinical audiologist who joined Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 2015 after completing her fourth-year externship here at Brigham.  Dr. Brown received her Bachelor of Arts in Communication Disorders and her Doctorate of Audiology from the University of Connecticut.  She works at both the Boston and Foxborough locations and her specialties include comprehensive audiologic and vestibular assessment, as well as hearing aid dispensing.

Sean Elam, Au.D., CCC-A is a clinical audiologist who joined Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 2013. Dr. Elam received his Bachelor of Science in Speech and Hearing Science from the University of Illinois and his Doctorate of Audiology from the University of Minnesota. His specialties include comprehensive audiologic and vestibular assessment, as well as adult hearing aid dispensing.

Sara E. Springer, Au.D., CCC-A is a clinical audiologist who joined Brigham and Women’s Hospital  in 2002. Dr. Springer received her Bachelor of Science in Communication Disorders from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, her Masters of Science in Audiology from Northeastern University, and her Doctorate of Audiology from Salus University. Her areas of expertise include comprehensive audiologic assessment, vestibular assessment, and adult hearing aid dispensing.

Margaret Toro, Au.D., CCC-A is a clinical audiologist who has been an audiologist since graduating from the University of Buffalo in 1973 and has been at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) since 2006. Prior experience includes work in both adult and pediatric audiology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, New England Medical Center, Boston University, and Boston Medical Center. In addition to her work in diagnostic audiology, Dr. Toro is Director of the Newborn Hearing Screening Program at BWH and a member of the Department of Public Health Newborn Hearing Screening Advisory Council. She holds her Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech and Hearing Association and is a fellow in the American Academy of Audiology.

Deborah Waldman, Au.D., CCC-A has been working as a clinical audiologist since graduating from Boston University in 1981. She joined Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 2005. Prior experience includes working at UMass Medical Center and Boston Medical Center. She specializes in both conventional and advanced diagnostic measures of the auditory and balance or vestibular systems. She also is experienced to select, fit and adjust state-of-the art hearing aids as well as non-conventional amplification devices. She holds her Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech and Hearing Association and is a fellow in the American Academy of Audiology.

Lisa M. Walker, Au.D., CCC-A
Comprehensive Audiologic Assessment
Adult and pediatric hearing aid dispensing

Lindsay Woods, Au.D., CCC-A received her Bachelor of Arts cum laude from Western Washington University in the field of Communication Sciences and Disorders. She received her Doctorate of Audiology (Au. D.) from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She works at both the Boston and Foxboro locations and specializes in comprehensive audiologic assessment, vestibular assessment, and adult and pediatric hearing aid dispensing.

Who Should Have a Hearing Test

If you suspect you have hearing loss, answer these questions suggested by the National Institutes of Health:

  • Do you have a problem hearing over the telephone?
  • Do you have trouble following the conversation when two or more people are talking at the same time?
  • Do people complain that you turn the TV volume up too high?
  • Do you have to strain to understand conversation?
  • Do you have trouble hearing in a noisy background?
  • Do you find yourself asking people to repeat themselves?
  • Do many people you talk to seem to mumble or not speak clearly?
  • Do you misunderstand what others are saying and respond inappropriately?
  • Do you have trouble understanding the speech of women and children?
  • Do people get annoyed because you misunderstand what they say?
  • Do you hear a ringing, roaring, or hissing sound a lot?  

If you answered yes to three or more of these questions, you may want to see a Brigham and Women’s Hospital otolaryngologist (an ear, nose, and throat specialist), or one of our audiologists for a hearing evaluation.

Take this quick test to help you determine if you should be evaluated for hearing loss.

Hearing Technology Center

Hearing Aids

We offer a full range of hearing aid products including the latest digital technology through the audiology department at BWH. Our fully operational hearing aid center is staffed by experienced audiologists certified by the American Speech and Hearing Association and members of the American Academy of Audiology.

The Hearing Technology Center provides a wide range of services related to hearing aids and assistive listening devices for patients of all ages. Patients considering hearing aids first undergo a thorough hearing evaluation to identify the nature and degree of hearing loss and ensure that medical intervention with otolaryngology is not indicated. 

While at your appointment for a hearing aid evaluation, the type, style and size of amplification will be matched to your requirements. Ear impressions will also be taken. Typically, you will return in approximately two weeks for a fitting. We provide a 30-day adjustment trial period to ensure that you achieve the maximum amplification benefit.

Specialized ear mold services include:

  • Custom and Standard Swim Molds
  • Noise Protection/Musician Earplugs Repeated exposure to loud sounds can result in permanent damage to hearing. A wide variety of standard and customized ear protection devices are available. For example, specialized devices are available for musicians to ensure that an earplug will not dramatically alter the quality of sound. 
Balance Assessment Testing

Videonystamography or Electronystagmography (VNG/ENG)

This is the most commonly used test to evaluate the vestibular system (balance portions of the inner ear, nerve, and brain). When the head is in motion, the inner-ear balance organs send signals to the eye muscles to keep vision in focus. Therefore, eye movements can be used to evaluate the balance system. Specialized video goggles with infrared cameras, are used to measure eye movements. Each ear canal is irrigated with small amounts of warm and cool air (caloric test) as the patient lies on an examination table. The air causes a temperature change that creates eye movements (nystagmus) that can be measured and compared for each ear. Information obtained from the ENG, along with information from other clinical tests, can help make a diagnosis and recommendations for treatment. This type of testing cannot be used with infants and small children.

Click here for balance assessment testing pre-evaluation instructions in English.

Click here for balance assessment testing pre-evaluation instructions en Español.

Click here for a list of drugs to avoid 48 hours before testing.

What You Should Expect

You will receive a thorough diagnostic examination to evaluate if you have a hearing disorder and determine what course of treatment is needed. Careful monitoring and the involvement of an experienced otolaryngologist are important to the successful outcome for patients with ear, nose and throat disorders and conditions.

Multidisciplinary Care

Brigham and Women’s Hospital provides a multidisciplinary approach to patient care by collaborating with colleagues who have extensive experience in diagnosing and treating ear, nose and throat disorders and conditions. In addition, patients have full access to BWH’s world-renowned academic medical community, with its diverse specialists, and state-of-the-art facilities.

Resources

Learn more about hearing disorders in our health library.

Visit the Kessler Health Education Library in the Bretholtz Center to access computers and knowledgeable staff.

Access a complete directory of patient and family services.

LEARN MORE ABOUT BRIGHAM AND WOMEN’S HOSPITAL


For over a century, a leader in patient care, medical education and research, with expertise in virtually every specialty of medicine and surgery.

About BWH