HEARING AID SELECTION
Which hearing aid is “the best” depends on a variety of factors. The degree of hearing loss, type of hearing loss, social lifestyle, previous amplification experience, dexterity, and budget are just a few of the factors considered in the selection of an appropriate hearing aid. As an independent audiology practice, you can rest assured that the hearing aid(s) we recommend for you will not be influenced by manufacturer contracts or sales incentives. We will recommend the product that is best for your particular hearing needs.
Hearing aids of yesteryear were adjusted using a screwdriver. Adjustments could be made for volume and bass/treble. Today, many digital hearing aids have hundreds of parameters that can be adjusted to more accurately accommodate the patient’s hearing needs. The hearing aids come from the manufacturer un-programmed. We perform all programming in front of the patient, according to their hearing evaluation results and subjective preferences. When a hearing aid is purchased, all programming and follow-up appointments are included in the cost of the hearing aid. It is usually necessary to make several adjustments after the patient has worn the new hearing aids for a period of time – after the brain adjusts to the new sounds and the patient has been in a variety of listening situations.
Everyone’s ear is shaped differently, which affects the way sound reaches the eardrum. For example, a 6’6″ man’s ear is much larger than a 5’1″ woman’s ear. If their hearing losses were identical, and identical hearing aids were programmed using the audiometric data only, the smaller woman would be receiving significantly more volume at certain frequencies than the man. We routinely utilize real-ear probe microphones to measure how much sound is actually reaching the eardrum. This permits us to program the hearing aids to a much higher degree of accuracy when compared to facilites that do not incorporate real-ear measurements.
VISIBLE SPEECH MAPPING
Visible speech mapping (VSM) is a form of real ear measurement that measures how much of the various sounds of speech reaches the eardrum. Advanced digital hearing aids incorporate noise reduction and feedback reduction algorithms which can cause traditional real ear measurements to be inaccurate. VSM can also be used to verify that advanced digital features are in fact doing what they are supposed to be doing.
One common complaint from hearing aid wearers is that the hearing aids sound fine in the office, when things are quiet, but don’t perform so well in the real world. To combat this problem, we’ve installed a surround system in our programming room which we use to present real-word sounds such as restaurant background noise. We use this system routinely to address programming concerns as well as to demonstrate the noise reduction features of the hearing aids.