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Better Hearing and Speech Month


Audiologist Spotlight

Meet Christopher Spankovich, AuD, PhD, MPH


 How long have you been employed at UMMC, and what is your sub-specialty?
"I have been employed at UMMC since July 2015, almost three years. My role within the department is primarily research focused, but my clinical interests are consistent with my research, which is aimed at early identification and prevention of acquired hearing loss and hearing loss related factors.  Currently, my clinical effort is primarily in adult and pediatric diagnostics and evaluation/management of tinnitus and sound sensitivity issues.  My decision to focus on this area of audiology is primarily driven by my own experience with hearing loss and tinnitus. At the age of 14 I awoke unable to hear in my right ear accompanied by a fullness/plugged sensation and ringing/buzzing sound (tinnitus).  The hearing loss, referred to as an idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss was of an unknown cause and permanent.  My hearing loss and tinnitus persist still and serve as the fuel to drive my work to prevent and treat hearing loss and tinnitus."

What is one thing you wish your patients knew about audiology?
"The practice of audiology is often associated with amplification, i.e. hearing aids. However, our role extends well beyond a device and hearing aids are just one tool, though an important one, in management of hearing health.  Audiologists provide diagnostics of hearing and balance function in all ages from babies through adults. This is a critical function to help rule out pathology underlying the patient complaints and ensure early intervention. Audiologists provide (re)habilitation, including communication strategies, auditory training, assistive listening devices, and more to ensure patients achieve improved functionality.  Audiologists play a vital role in evaluation and management of implantable devices (e.g. cochlear implant) and are critical to the success of implant patients.  Audiologists are uniquely positioned to evaluate and manage tinnitus and sound sensitivity patients, for which there limited surgical or pharmaceutical options.  Audiologists also serve roles in hearing conservation and prevention of hearing loss through monitoring, counseling, and fitting of hearing protection devices.  Audiologists are an integral part of the care of dizzy patients, aiding in diagnostics and treatment.  Finally, audiologists are teachers, researchers, and experts in hearing and balance health."

What is one thing you wish your patients knew about the importance of ENT health/early testing as it pertains to audiology?
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” B. Franklin

"Early signs of hearing loss may include decreased speech understanding in noisy environments, tinnitus, and perception others are not speaking clearly. If you are experiencing these symptoms it is a good idea to get your hearing checked.  Early identification can allow implementation of preventative strategies and reduce risk for further decline in function."

Where did you get you education/degree from?
Bachelor of Arts, Psychology, University of North Carolina at Wilmington
Master of Public Health, Behavioral Science Health Education, Emory University
Doctor of Audiology, Audiology, Rush University
Doctor of Philosophy, Hearing Sciences, Vanderbilt University

Is there anything you would like for your patients to know about yourself?
"I am married to my beautiful wife Keyla, we have two boys, Kiah and Key. I love the ocean and like to visit the coast as much as possible."