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Modification of Osseointegrated Device Parameters to Improve Speech in Noise and Localization Ability

Clinical Recommendations

Hillyer, Jake; Buchanan, P. Cody; Elkins, Elizabeth; Watson, Stacey D.; Cloutier, Francois; Backous, Douglas D.; Parbery-Clark, Alexandra

doi: 10.1097/MAO.0000000000001127

Objective: To determine how best to modify osseointegrated (OI) devices or environmental settings to maximize hearing performance.

Study Design: Prospective cohort study.

Setting: Tertiary referral center.

Patients: Fourteen adults with single-sided deafness (SSD) with a minimum of 6 months OI usage and nine bilaterally normal hearing controls

Interventions: Speech in noise (SIN) and localization ability were assessed in a multi-speaker array (R-Space) with patients repeating sentences embedded in competing noise and verbally indicating the source speaker, respectively.

Main Outcome Measures: SIN and localization were assessed with multiple OI microphone settings—fixed-directional, omnidirectional, and adaptive—as well as an unaided (OI off) condition. Participants completed the Abbreviated Profile of Hearing Aid Benefit questionnaire.

Results: Localization performance remains compromised for OI users with a high number of front-back confusions, but rapid learning using the fixed-directional microphone setting improved localization of sounds on the device side despite poorer localization of sounds on the normal-hearing side. SIN performance is greatly enhanced with speech presented to the contra hearing ear rather than the OI device side. Subjective report of hearing ability is highly predictive of objective SIN measures.

Conclusions: Clinicians should consider implementing a fixed-directional microphone setting for improved localization for sounds behind the OI device, but inform patients of the trade-off in performance on the normal-hearing side. For better hearing in noise, clinicians should counsel OI recipients to orient the speech signal to their normal hearing ear rather than their OI device. The background noise subscale of the abbreviated profile of hearing aid benefit (APHAB) provides a meaningful metric by which to assess SIN performance of OI device users.

*Swedish Neuroscience Institute, Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.

Pierre-Boucher Hospital, Montreal University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Alexandra Parbery-Clark, Au.D./Ph.D., Auditory Research Laboratory, Center for Hearing and Skull Base Surgery, Swedish Neuroscience Institute, James Tower, 550 17th Ave, Suite 520, Seattle, WA 98122; E-mail:

The authors disclose no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2016 by Otology & Neurotology, Inc. Image copyright © 2010 Wolters Kluwer Health/Anatomical Chart Company