Meet Analise Ludwig, AuD, CCC-A, FAAA, Gillette’s audiologist. Analise was recruited to Gillette 10 years ago to build our audiology department from the ground up. She collaborates with other departments to ensure that patients’ hearing is satisfactory so that they're able to thrive, learn and be successful in rehabilitation therapies. She works closely with departments across the hospital such as the ENT team, craniofacial team, neurology, speech-language pathology and physical medicine and rehabilitation. In addition to her unquestionable expertise, she has become one of our patients’ most beloved staff members.
What are some conditions or trauma situations that result in patients experiencing hearing loss and needing hearing aids?
There are so many of them and I think that’s why it’s very important to have audiology here. Providers know there is a huge list of reasons why somebody might lose hearing or be born with a hearing loss. There are different syndromes and genetic conditions that can cause hearing loss at birth or progressively over time. Other times, traumatic brain injury and head trauma or other physical impacts to the head or ear can cause hearing loss. Cleft lip and palate can cause transient hearing loss or issues that need to be managed due to the way it affects structures in the ear. Sometimes hearing loss can be present in kids with cerebral palsy as well.
We have an osteogenesis imperfecta clinic and kids who have that diagnosis need to be monitored because hearing loss can creep in over time . Some of the more involved craniofacial syndromes like Apert syndrome and Goldenhar syndrome can cause hearing loss as well. When half of the face isn’t developing typically, sometimes that can impact an ear and you may even have a child with an ear that’s missing.
What we try to do here (and we’re doing a pretty good job of it), is anytime a child has an issue with speech or language development, we want to check the hearing and make sure that hearing loss is not a contributing factor. Sometimes with teens who have been receiving care for a long time and might be significantly cognitively delayed, we find that nobody has checked their hearing since they were toddlers. Then when we go back and do more testing, we realize there is some hearing loss that we can manage.
A lot of people feel as though it’s this little thing, but it’s not really—it’s big! Hearing what’s going on around you is very important for quality of life and engagement.
What are some of your favorite audiology success stories?
Happily, there have been many successes. I remember one time when a grandpa fell asleep in the chair during his grandson’s hearing aid fitting appointment. After I got the hearing aids fit to the grandson, he wondered what sound he was hearing—it was his grandpa snoring! We all got a good laugh out of that, but it just shows how much a child can miss without proper hearing equipment.
One little guy was so excited to dance to his favorite song once he could hear it more clearly.
I saw a 16-year-old who was in a pretty bad car accident and lost quite a bit of hearing as a result of that. He went through a lot of therapy before anybody realized that his hearing should be checked. Once we did that and found the hearing loss, we were able to fit him with hearing aids. Finally he was able to participate fully in his rehabilitation process. He still follows up with me. He has graduated from college at the University of Minnesota and is embarking on his professional career with his hearing aids. It’s very special.
My oldest patient from the Phalen Adult Clinic who wears hearing aids is currently 71. He got his first set of hearing aids last year, and they have made a huge difference in his day-to-day life at his residence and at his day program.
What do you love the most about your job?
I think it’s really awesome to be able to take kids from not being able to hear things like Mom’s voice, their friends, their puppies, their music and their shows to a place where they can access that clearly. It’s a really big, magical jump in quality of life.
Audiology just fits in well at Gillette because you know our mission is to help kids participate in life as fully as possible. Also, there’s a lot of complexity going on with these kids and families, so to have everyone at Gillette working together to give them the best care—that doesn’t happen everywhere, and the hearing piece is something that I feel is a real boost to that whole process.