Dr. Melanie Driscoll, Audiologist, Improves Her Patients’ Quality of Life

Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Photography Provided

As a newly divorced single mom of two children, Melanie Driscoll had to find a new way to navigate life. One day a friend suggested she check out an audiology program at the University of Louisville (UofL). At the time, Driscoll had an elderly neighbor – a former military man who would come over with his wife every weekend to play cards.Audiology

“He had hearing aids that were always squealing, and his wife was always fussing about it,” said Dr. Driscoll, who also had another friend with a little girl who was born deaf. “She had a cochlear implant when she was 2 years old. Having these connections to two different people with hearing issues let me know I was headed down the right path pursuing audiology as a profession.”

After getting her doctoral degree, she worked for a year at UofL coordinating the auditory processing disorders program for children before opening Eastpoint Audiology in 2016. The team at Eastpoint Audiology includes Kathleen, Amy, Kerrie, Tiffany, Sophie, Hope, Casey, and Jean. Dr. Driscoll said her team gives her inspiration every day and she enjoys watching each of them grow as they work with patients. “Without them I would never have been able to accomplish all that we’ve accomplished.”

“As a team, we look at the patient’s overall quality of health because hearing loss affects many aspects in life,” Dr. Driscoll said. “Research has found a link between hearing loss and diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and depression, among other things. Since hearing loss is the number-one modifiable risk factor for dementia when identified and addressed, Dr. Driscoll and her team decided to have patients complete a cognitive screening.

In the early 2000’s, an over-the-counter (OTC) hearing device came on the market. However, patients would get frustrated with how quickly it stopped working, or that it never worked the way they anticipated. Buying an OTC hearing device means that there’s no one to help them get a good fit (which is important for good hearing) or troubleshoot any issues with it.

“Back then, most OTC hearing devices were just amplifiers. Are you willing to put something in your ear and run the risk of damaging your hearing? Besides, how do you know you don’t just have wax in your ear?” said Dr. Driscoll. Though OTC hearing devices are now more reliable, that doesn’t mean they are for everyone.

“If you have moderate to severe or profound loss, you’re not going to be a good candidate for OTC hearing devices.” said Driscoll. “Our goal is to educate patients as to what these devices actually do.”

Dr. Driscoll’s favorite audiology stories involve the ones in which her patients cry when they are fitted for their hearing-aid. “It’s such a drastic difference because they usually have a significant degree of hearing loss.” said Dr. Driscoll. “Just yesterday, two of my audiologists completed an in-home visit and the lady cried tears of joy because she was so happy that she could finally hear her loved ones’ voices again.”

AudiologyIn September 2021, Driscoll found a way to help more people in the community. She opened Simetria Fall Prevention Center, where patients with vertigo and balance issues are seen. Patients may have benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, which occurs when crystals become loose in the inner ear. They may suffer from other vestibular issues (episodes of dizziness described as rocking, spinning, floating, swaying, internal motion and lightheadness) or traumatic brain injuries. The end goal is to pinpoint what is causing the balance problem.

“Does it have to do with the vestibular system?” said Dr. Driscoll. “Does it have to do with their vision? Is it something with their medications interacting, or an issue like diabetic neuropathy where they can’t feel their feet? It’s like a puzzle, and we’re trying to gather all the pieces of the puzzle to figure it out.”

“If someone is dizzy every day and we’re able to pinpoint what’s causing it, whether it is something simple or more complex, we can get them headed in the right direction to resolve the issue, to get them on the path to a better quality of life,” said Dr. Driscoll. “That’s our purpose.”

When patients come into Eastpoint Audiology, they can grab a coffee from the coffee station, and on their way out they get a cookie.  “We don’t always know what’s going on in our patients’ lives before they walk through our door,” said Driscoll. “Our goal is to make sure when people leave, they are better for having come to our office.”

Driscoll appreciates how important that is, as she is grateful for her family. In her free time, Driscoll likes to travel, particularly taking cruises and going to the beach. “I don’t even care if I get in the water,” she said. “I love the waves, the sunshine and the sand.”

As a UofL alumni, Dr. Driscoll has mentored many Audiology doctorate students. In 2017, Dr. Driscoll established the inaugural “Bright Futures” initiative for all UofL Doctor of Audiology graduates. Each year since 2017, graduates are presented with otoscopes, an essential tool which helps give the graduates a successful start to their career and links them to the community of successful UofL Doctor of Audiology alumni.

Eastpoint Audiology is located at 731 Speckman Road, across from Southeast Christian Church, in Louisville. For more information, call 502-215-3860 or visit eastpointaudiology.com.Audiology

Simetria Fall Prevention Center is located at 729 Speckman Road, next door to Eastpoint Audiology.  For information on Simetria Fall Prevention Center, call 502-539-5000 or visit simetriafpc.com.

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