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Sanuthera's innovative ear buds offer hope to tinnitus sufferers

For people who suffer from tinnitus, or an uncontrollable ringing in the ears, finding relief from the disorder can be frustrating and expensive.

That frustration is something Ohio University clinical affairs director Jeffery DiGiovanni and Chillicothe VA Chief Audiologist Stephen Rizzo Jr., know well through their work with sufferers. The duo's compassion and ingenuity led them to create a new device that uses readily available MP3 technology to alleviate the ringing.

They have created wireless ear buds -- that also double as a hearing aid device -- that wirelessly streams sounds from an iPod-like player designed to play customized sounds that counteracts the buzz.

"We're deeply entrenched in hearing aid technology," DiGiovanni said. "Many people who suffer from tinnitus also use hearing aids, and we were both disappointed in the inability for manufacturers to come up with a device that would serve the needs of tinnitus sufferers in an elegant manner."

The ear buds have been developed through DiGiovanni's and Rizzo's company Sanuthera. DiGiovanni is understandably vague on the types of sounds developed, but says it's an improvement on traditional music or other generated sounds. They were created with the specific knowledge of the human auditory system to maximize the therapeutic effect The sounds can be customized to individuals, and downloaded through an audiologist to a user's personal MP3 device.

This spring the company received a boost with $337,000 in VC funds from TechGROWTH Ohio, an entrepreneur service provider and investor organization created through Ohio Third Frontier.

The funds will allow Sanuthera to speed up its prototype manufacturing, which is in process now. The company will soon under FDA testing and hopes to have the product to market by the second quarter of 2012.

Source: Jeffery DiGiovanni, Sanuthera
Writer: Feoshia Henderson

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