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Read the latest news, research updates and trends in audiology and hearing care. Post comments and share with your colleagues!

Friday, November 2, 2018

Adults aged 65 and over with hearing loss are more likely to be readmitted to the hospital compared to those with normal hearing, a new study found (J Am Geriatr Soc. 2018 Oct 5. doi: 10.1111/jgs.15545. [Epub ahead of print]). Researchers from New York University identified 4,436 patients 65 and older who reported difficulty communicating with health care personnel due to their hearing loss, and compared the hospitalization experiences of those with and those without this difficulty. They found that those with difficulty communicating had a 32 percent increase in the likelihood of being readmitted within 30 days after accounting for age, number of medical problems, and other sociodemographic factors.

Jan Blustein, MD, PhD, a professor of health policy and medicine at NYU's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and a senior author of the study, said hospitals are noisy, chaotic places, and people with hearing loss may have trouble understanding key information, such as what medicines they should take after discharge or how they should watch for or manage exacerbation of their symptoms. "This puts them at risk for difficulties after they are discharged from the hospital," he said in a press release. Blustein also noted that there are several low-cost technological approaches to helping older people with hearing loss to hear better, but few hospitals use them. "We hope that our research will help raise awareness of the potential to improve patient care by attending to hearing loss," he said. 

Monday, October 29, 2018

Since 2016, the Ida Institute Research Committee has awarded research grants to projects that investigate the outcomes of using Ida Institute methods and tools and develop evidence to show the effect of person-centered hearing care. The first grant recipients have now submitted their reports. Their findings add to a growing body of evidence that demonstrates the value of Ida Institute methods and tools and the use of person-centered care in clinical practice.

Living Well Tool Creates Patient-Centered Framework

Project: Researchers explored the way audiologists convey information about communication and hearing loss management in appointments with adults with hearing loss and their communication partners.

Ida Tool: Living Well  idainstitute.com/tools/living_well

The study found that using the Ida Living Well tool shifted the emphasis in appointments away from difficulties of living with hearing loss to more positive and proactive communication and lifestyle decisions.

The audiologists who participated in the study found that the Living Well tool was a helpful, easy-to-use tool, particularly at the start of the session where it provided context that helped to determine client goals. Clients described the Living Well tool as a good starting point for appointments that allowed them to fast-track discussion and spend valuable time on one-on-one problem solving with the clinician. Researchers concluded that the tool enabled them to move the appointment focus beyond the deficit model in audiological rehabilitation to more positive aspects of hearing loss management, such as social engagement and successful communication.

Lead Researcher: Dr. Nerina Scarinci, The University of Queensland  
Co-Investigators: Dr. Carly Meyer, The University of Queensland, Dr. Katie Ekberg, The University of Queensland and Dr. Christopher Lind, Flinders University

Readiness for Rehabilitation

Project: Researchers examined how incorporating the Ida Motivation Tools into initial assessment appointments with adult clients can help audiologists better identify clients' readiness for hearing rehabilitation.

Ida Tools: Motivation tools idainstitute.com/tools/motivation_tools
Audiologists in the study who used the tools improved their ability to identify their clients' stages in the patient journey and successfully solicited clients' readiness for rehabilitation and potential concerns regarding hearing aids. The findings emphasized the importance of the discussion that is initiated by using the tools and not relying solely on the clients' scores. Evaluating only on the client's scores can lead practitioners to over-estimate clients' readiness. These study findings support the overall aim of the Motivational Tools as "conversation starters" and reinforced the need for audiologists to actively listen to clients' responses.

Lead Researcher: Dr. Katie Ekberg, The University of Queensland

Co-Investigator: Dr. Caitlin Barr, The University of Melbourne

Ototoxic Hearing Loss Among Childhood Cancer Survivors

Project: Researchers explored the support needs of childhood cancer survivors and their parents during the hearing rehabilitation process.

Parents whose children acquire hearing loss through cancer treatment must deal with the stress of both cancer and hearing loss. Many of the children will need hearing aids and special support to help their language and speech skills develop. Their parents will need support to provide an environment that encourages listening, speech and language skills.

In the study, parents, teachers, and audiologists all described the intense emotional demands on both parents and children. They also noted a frequent misunderstanding by parents of the far-reaching impact of hearing loss on their child's wellbeing. Both teachers and audiologists acknowledged the families' need for support of all kinds, but primarily social-emotional support to facilitate family adjustment. The researchers determined that audiologists and teachers of deaf and hard-of-hearing children need both person-centered and family-centered awareness and skills and are well positioned to provide limited but important support through collaboration and consistency.

Lead Researcher: Dr. Janet Jamieson, The University of British Columbia

Co-Investigators: Beth Brooks, MSc RAUD and Dr. Marla Buchanan, The University of
British Columbia

Visit the Ida Institute website for more information on the grant and previous receipeints.

Friday, October 19, 2018

​Activation of the signaling pathway that regulates the differentiation of hair cells could represent a new approach to cochlear regeneration and potentially restore hearing, a new study found (Eur J Neurosci. 2018 Sep 30. doi: 10.1111/ejn.14183. [Epub ahead of print]). Researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center and the Massachusetts Ear and Eye Infirmary hypothesized that signaling from the epidermal growth factor receptor family may play a role in cochlear regeneration. Specifically, they focused on a receptor called ERBB2, which is found in cochlear support cells. They found that activating the ERBB2 pathway triggered a cascading series of cellular events by which cochlear support cells began to proliferate and start the process of activating other neighboring stem cells to become new sensory hair cells. This process not only could impact the regeneration of sensory hair cells but also support their integration with nerve cells. The authors said their findings suggest a new model where an interplay of cell signaling regulates regeneration by endogenous stem-like cells. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Phonak_Audeo_Marvel_5_charger_1810_LR.jpgPhonak has launched Marvel, a revolutionary hearing aid family that combines the benefits of exceptional speech understanding and reduced listening effort in noise with the ability to stream all audio content seamlessly from iPhone, Android smartphone or billions of other Bluetooth enabled devices to both ears in stereo quality. Marvel hearing aids are rechargeable and empower consumers to benefit from remote real-time support via smart apps as well as real-time voice-to-text transcription of phone calls. It has the AutoSense OS™ 3.0 operating system which was developed with artificial intelligence to provide exceptional sound quality from the first fit, better speech understanding in noise, reduced listening effort, and rich sound experience when streaming. The Phonak Audéo™ M will be the first Marvel hearing aid to feature this breakthrough technology.

The Marvel hearing aids include the following features:

  • Wearers can stream any audio content, including music, eBooks, and more to both ears from any Bluetooth device
  • Built-in microphones allow completely hands-free phone conversations from both iPhone and Android devices while the conversation is heard in both ears
  • Lithium-Ion rechargeable option available for a full day of hearing including streaming on a single charge
  • Smart apps enable remote fine-tuning and live voice-to-text phone transcriptions

Sound quality

AutoSense OS 3.0 was developed using artificial intelligence, to automatically learn, detect and adapt, providing the best hearing experience in any listening environment.

With Marvel technology, AutoSense OS 3.0 can even classify streamed media. In a recent study1, Audéo M was top-rated for quality of streaming media against five competitors. The enhanced operating system also includes Binaural VoiceStream Technology™ into Marvel hearing aids. This highly-sophisticated four-microphone technology has been proven to significantly improve speech understanding by 60%2 in noisy places like restaurants while simultaneously reducing the amount of effort by 19%3 required to listen and understand.

"Audiology is at the heart of everything we do at Phonak." said Martin Grieder, Group Vice President, Hearing Instruments Marketing at Sonova. "That's why Marvel is such a game-changer for our industry. Marvel technology empowers people and provides a true "love at first sound" experience. We believe the sound quality is second to none, and it begins the moment the person puts the hearing aids on."

Stream from iOS, Android and billions of Bluetooth devices

The Android operating system accounts for 86%4 of all smartphones worldwide, yet until today, binaural (two-ear) streaming of phone calls, music, and other multimedia content directly to hearing aids has only been a reality for iPhone users, who only account for 13% of smartphone owners worldwide. Empowering all consumers regardless of the smartphone operating system has been a driving force behind Phonak. Audéo M is capable of direct audio streaming from virtually any smartphone around the world.

"For years, the hearing aid industry has waited for a single solution that streams phone conversations, music, and video content in stereo from both iPhone and Android devices," said Thomas Lang, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Phonak. "Today, we're proud to announce that the wait is over. Marvel technology gives wearers access to billions of Bluetooth-enabled devices, so people no longer have to think about whether their hearing aids will work with their phones or other personal electronics."

Continuing the rechargeable revolution

There are numerous benefits to not having to change tiny hearing aid batteries, not only for people with vision or dexterity challenges. In fact, rechargeable hearing aids are cited as the top feature most likely to attract potential first-time hearing aid wearers5. In 2016, Phonak released the world's first lithium-ion rechargeable hearing aids and set new standards for efficiency and convenience.

With Marvel hearing aids wearers can enjoy a full day of hearing - including streaming - on a single charge. The Audéo M rechargeable hearing aid turns on automatically when taken out of the charger. Integrated LED lights and a new mini charger provide the usability people expect.

Enhancing the user experience with smart apps

With Marvel hearing aids comes the introduction of a suite of convenient smart apps. The myPhonak app allows wearers to have their hearing aids adjusted in real-time, in any situation, anywhere via video call by the hearing care professional. It also gives consumers the ability to rate their hearing aid satisfaction in various environments and directly send this feedback to their hearing care professional. Finally, the myCall-to-Text app provides live transcription of phone calls from the other party in more than 80 languages. This is an ideal solution for noisy environments, or for people who prefer additional visual captions when using the phone.

The Audéo M will be available in the U.S. beginning the end of November. The new hearing aids are also RogerDirect™ ready, meaning they can receive signals from Roger™ microphones directly and without attaching a separate receiver in the future for better understanding in noise and over distance. RogerDirect functionality will be available as a firmware upgrade in Fall 2019.

REFERENCES:

  1. Legarth, S., Latzel, M., & Rodrigues, T. (2018). Media streaming: The sound quality wearers prefer. Phonak Field Study News, retrieved from www.phonakpro.com/evidence
  2. Field Study News about Phonak StereoZoom in preparation, available by end of 2018 at www.phonakpro.com/evidence.
  3. Winneke, A., Latzel, M., & Appleton-Huber, J. (2018). Less listening- and memory effort in noisy situations with StereoZoom. Phonak Field Study News, retrieved from www.phonakpro.com/evidence
  4. Global mobile landscape 2016, eMarketer, November 2016
  5. Marketrak 2015, asked of non-owners only (n=2099) – multiple responses allowed 

Friday, October 12, 2018

The addition of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) to standard corticosteroid treatment is associated with higher rates of hearing recovery in patients with sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL), according to a new study (JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2018 Sep 27. doi: 10.1001/jamaoto.2018.2133). A systematic review, which included three randomized clinical trials and 16 nonrandomized studies, found that the rate of complete hearing recovery in SSNHL patients who received both HBOT and medical therapy of systemic and/or intratympanic corticosteroids was 29.4 percent, compared with 20.7 percent in those who were only treated with medications. Absolute hearing gain was also significantly greater in the HBOT and medical treatment group than in the medical treatment alone group for the overall frequencies. Furthermore, the benefit of this treatment approach was greater in those with severe to profound hearing loss.

The authors wrote that this study demonstrates for the first time to date that HBOT combined with medical treatment is associated with a significant improvement in complete hearing recovery and any hearing recovery. "Using HBOT, it is possible to maximize the oxygen partial pressure supplied to the inner ear," they wrote. "This process can minimize ischemic damage after SSNHL and aid vascular recovery. Furthermore, it can provide antibacterial effects through oxygen radicals and promote angiogenesis with tissue regeneration."