Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Lip Reading: It Helps...

Have you ever heard someone say, “I hear better with my glasses on”?
Most people feel they hear better when they can see the person talking. That’s because they’re getting help from lip-reading.

You probably get important help from lip-reading too. Not as in some spy movie, where the hero understands every word from across a room just by watching the person’s lips. Some sounds are impossible to lip-read, so lip-reading when you hear no sound at all is extremely difficult and of limited help.
On the other hand, many speech sounds are easy to lip-read and most lip-reading happens automatically. Fortunately, the sounds that are hardest to hear are easiest to lip-read.
To illustrate: the sounds “th” as in “thin” and “p” as in “pin” are difficult to hear because they are such soft, high-pitched sounds. But with the help of lip-reading, it’s fairly easy to “hear” the difference between “thin” and “pin.”
Vowels are louder and easier to hear – but harder to lip-read. The vowels “o” in “toe” and “e” in “tee” are relatively easy to hear, but it’s difficult to lip-read the difference between the two vowels.
Some sounds are literally impossible to tell apart solely from lip-reading. For example, the sounds “p,b,m” look identical, so you can’t tell the difference in the words “pat, bat, ,mat” from lip-reading alone. With just a little help from hearing, however, it’s much easier to distinguish those words correctly.
Lip-reading tips:
Lip-reading was once taught in special classes as the major source of help for people with hearing loss. Today’s hearing aids have made special training less important, although practice and training can improve your ability to read lips. For most people, the following tips should provide enough help to make lip-reading as helpful as having a third hearing aid.
Make sure you can see the speaker’s face. It’s hard to read lips from another room, from more than 10 feet away, or if the speaker is turned away from you.
Watch the speaker’s face, not just the lips; facial expressions and gestures give important clues.
Make sure there isn’t bright lighting behind the speaker.
Concentrate on sentences and topics rather than individual sounds and words.
Finally, concentrate on how much you understand, not on what you miss.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Hearing Aid Questions

QUESTION: My doctor recently told me that I need a hearing aid. My first thoughts were of the large, clumsy hearing aid my grandfather wore. I'm sure there must be better options. Over time, some hair cells in the inner ear grow old, die and are not replaced. When hair cells die, the electrical messages of sound don't travel to the brain as well as they should.

ANSWER: If you're like so many members of the boomer generation, your problem may be presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss. Presbycusis is the leading cause of hearing impairment and affects most people as they age.The good news for people with age-related hearing loss is that, like cell phones, computers and televisions, hearing aids have benefited from the digital revolution. As a result, hearing aids are smaller and have better sound quality than ever before. And as the technology continues to evolve, hearing aids are gaining new capabilities, including wireless connectivity to cell phones, televisions and MP3 players.Even with these impressive advances, all hearing aids have the same primary purpose: to make sound louder. They have the same basic components, and most run on batteries. They contain at least one microphone that picks up sound and converts it into electrical signals.These signals are transmitted to an amplifier, which boosts their strength and alters the sounds. The amplified electrical signals then travel to a receiver, a small loudspeaker hat converts the electrical signals back into sound waves, and channels them into the ear.

The first generation of hearing aids only amplified sounds by a few decibels. By contrast, hearing aids today can boost sound by as much as 80 decibels -- roughly the difference between a whisper and a car horn. That's why it's extremely important to find a reputable hearing aid professional, often called a dispenser, who will adjust the volume properly so it's loud enough to meet your needs but not so loud as to be harmful.The hearing aid style and circuitry that you choose depend on many things. A prime consideration, of course, is the nature of your hearing loss, its cause and its severity. Your audiologist or hearing instrument specialist will make recommendations based on your audiogram.For example, if you have severe hearing loss, you may need a larger hearing aid. Although this is gradually changing, small hearing aids are typically too small to contain circuitry powerful enough to help someone with more than moderately severe hearing loss.Even if you have a mild to moderate degree of hearing loss, the smallest hearing aids may not be an option for you. If you are prone to an excessive buildup of earwax or to ear infections, small hearing aids may not be the best choice because they are easily damaged by earwax or draining ear fluid.

Finally, you may want the capability to reduce some types of background noise and boost the sound frequencies you have the most trouble hearing; these optional features are not always available in very small hearing aids.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Unilateral Sensorineural Hearing Loss: BAHA

Here is an article about BAHA, which stands for for bone-anchored hearing aid.The implanted system works through direct bone conduction and in 2002 was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of unilateral sensorineural hearing loss.BAHA allows sound to be conducted through the bone rather than via the middle ear, It consists of three parts – a titanium implant, an external abutment and a sound processor. The system works by enhancing natural bone transmission as a pathway for sound to travel to the inner ear, bypassing the external auditory canal and middle ear.

The implant is placed during a short surgical procedure and over time naturally integrates with the skull bone in a process call osseointegration.For hearing, the sound processor transmits sound vibrations through the external abutment to the titanium implant. The vibrating implant creates vibrations within the skull and inner ear that stimulate the inner ear’s nerve fibers, allowing hearing.

The device is used to rehabilitate people with conductive and mixed loss hearing impairment who suffer from chronic infection of the ear canal, congenital ear malformation, people with a single-sided hearing loss as a result of surgery for a vestibular tumor of the balance and hearing nerves. It is used both in adults and children.

The device costs $4,000 in the US plus the cost of surgery The only manufacturers are the Sydney, Australia-based Cochlear Limited, which registered BAHA as a trademark, and the Gothenburg, Sweden-based Oticon Medical.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Remote Microphone Technology

ReSound, a technology leader in hearing aid solutions, has created an innovative proprietary Remote Microphone Technology that enhances natural directivity, spatial awareness and wind noise performance in hearing aids. 

The Remote Microphone Technology uses a thin tube to connect the hearing aid to a microphone that is tucked into the concha cymba area of the external ear. The remote microphone utilizes the natural effects of the pinna, as they relate to directivity, high frequency amplification and wind noise reduction. The body of the hearing aid is placed in the ear canal to create device retention and cosmetic appeal. 

"Remote Microphone Technology is a very attractive alternative for hearing aids users that have an aversion to Behind-The-Ear (BTE) instruments," said Dr. Laurel Christensen, Chief Audiology Officer, ReSound. "The placement of the microphone in the concha cymba not only hides it from view, but also improves acoustic performance due to pinna effects." 

Behind-the-ear (BTE) and some traditional custom hearing instruments have less-than-ideal microphone placement compared to the natural ear, causing distortions to occur if sound collection from the pinna is not utilized. Remote Microphone Technology takes advantage of the pinna effect to preserve natural localization (including front-back localization performance) and directional cues. 

"This technology is completely unique to ReSound," said Dr. Christensen. "As an element of good sound quality, ReSound's remote microphone hearing instruments restore the pinna effect to give a sense of spatial awareness and localization." 

Early market feedback quickly validated the benefits of this innovative hearing instrument design that leverages the ear's natural abilities through consistent patient reports of significant wind noise reduction, superior sound quality and an improved ability to localize sound. 


Monday, January 3, 2011

Mandating Coverage for Hearing Aids in NH

(Boston.com) CONCORD, N.H.—The hard of hearing are getting help paying for hearing aids under a New Hampshire law that took effect Saturday.The law requires insurance policies to provide up to $1,500 in coverage per hearing aid every five years.The law passed over the objections of opponents who said the benefit is too generous and would hurt small businesses.Supporters argued that most children and about half the adult population up to age 64 currently have some coverage. They said hearing loss results in less effective communication, especially on the job, jeopardizes safety and isolates people.