Objective: Auditory stimulation has been shown to suppress the loudness of tinnitus (residual inhibition, RI). Somatosensory manipulations have also been shown to sometimes decrease tinnitus perception. An ear-massaging device, the Reltus (www.reltus.com), has been marketed as a tinnitus treatment device. This study was undertaken to evaluate its short-term effectiveness and mode of effect. Design: The research was undertaken in two phases. Phase 1 measured the change in tinnitus perception after one minute of auditory stimulation through headphones and after application of a vibrating device to four different stimulation points around the pinna for one minute each. Phase 2 evaluated if it was the vibrations that were responsible for the effect on tinnitus perception, or sound produced by the vibrator. Study sample: Twenty-three participants completed phase 1 and 10 participants participated in the second phase. Results: RI to auditory stimulation was found in 87% of participants and to tactile stimulation in 83%. No significant differences were found in the effectiveness between the four vibration stimulation points, or between the left and right ear of the participants. The Reltus produced a sound that resulted in RI. Conclusions: It is the auditory artifact of the Reltus that was responsible for short-term tinnitus suppression.
- residual inhibition