WARRENVILLE, Ill., Nov. 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- On Nov. 15 and 16, 1,200 athletes at Special Olympics Florida's fall competition in Orlando will receive a very special holiday gift...hearing. Phonak, the global leader in hearing instruments, has partnered with strongman and Special Olympics Ambassador, Derek Poundstone and Special Olympics to help support the hearing needs among athletes.
The Healthy Hearing Screening Program – part of the broader Healthy Athletes initiative sponsored by Special Olympics – is a critical initiative aimed at providing needed hearing healthcare to this medically underserved population. Nearly 30 percent of Special Olympics athletes are found to have hearing loss, but many have not had viable access to hearing healthcare until now.
About Healthy Hearing
Nearly one in three Special Olympics athletes in the United States fail hearing screenings, making them candidates for further evaluation and in many cases, treatment through hearing aids. Many have never had their hearing tested or have been unable to afford hearing aids due to a lack of health insurance or access to care in general.
"Hearing is so vital to the success of these athletes – they need to be able to hear and respond to direction from their coaches and trainers," said Poundstone. "The Healthy Hearing Screening Program ensures that our athletes will not only hear and understand important instruction but also hear the applause from the crowd as they succeed."
During key Special Olympic competitions around the country, athletes undergo an onsite hearing screening as part of the Healthy Hearing program. Those who are identified with potential hearing loss will be directed to an audiologist in their local market who will provide further evaluation and treatment. For those who require them, they will receive Phonak hearing instruments free of charge.
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Selena Snowden, Clinical Director of Healthy Hearing in Orlando is very passionate about her involvement. "In working with the Healthy Hearing program over the past nine years, my desire has been the same for these athletes as for all people -- to make sure they receive the hearing healthcare they need," said Snowden.
"The Healthy Hearing program gives Special Olympics athletes access to the hearing screenings they desperately need. I've had the privilege of fitting an athlete with a hearing aid. It was a blessing to help diagnose and fit him with a hearing aid through the Healthy Athletes program."
Here's one testimonial about Mark Allison, an athlete from Stuart, Florida who was fitted with hearing aids as a result of the Healthy Hearing program last year:
Mark attended a Healthy Hearing screening at Special Olympics Florida in November 2012 where he was told he had a hole in his ear drum. When he returned home, his doctor said the hole had healed, but he still found it difficult to hear. Another screening revealed the hole was still there and getting larger. Mark was able to connect with Healthy Communities (HC) in South Florida, a provider of integrated health care coordination that includes primary health care to people with intellectual disabilities, and was finally scheduled to be fitted with a hearing aid via the generosity of Phonak.
Headquartered near Zurich, Switzerland, Phonak, a member of Sonova Group, has developed, produced and globally distributed state-of-the-art hearing systems and wireless devices for more than 60 years. The combination of expertise in hearing technology, mastery in acoustics and strong cooperation with hearing care professionals allows Phonak to significantly improve people's hearing ability and speech understanding and therefore their quality of life.
Phonak offers a complete range of digital hearing instruments, along with complementary wireless communication systems. With a worldwide presence, Phonak drives innovation and sets new industry benchmarks regarding miniaturization and performance.
About Special Olympics
Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives through the power of sport by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to nearly 4 million athletes in over 170 countries in all regions of the world, providing year-round sports training, athletic competition and other related programs. Special Olympics now takes place every day, changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities all over the world, from community playgrounds and ball fields in every small neighborhood's backyard to World Games. Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities continuing opportunities to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience joy and friendship. Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org. Engage with us on: Twitter @specialolympics; fb.com/specialolympics; youtube.com/specialolympicshq, and specialolympicsblog.wordpress.com