New hybrid hearing device helps those who find hearing aids to be ineffective
By Charlie Patton Tue, Aug 19, 2014 @ 4:51 pm
Traditionally there have been two approaches to hearing loss: hearing aids to amplify sound for those who retained some hearing; and cochlear implants to restore some hearing to those who are totally deaf.
A new device, a Cochlear Nucleus Hybrid Implant System, has been approved by the FDA for use in people who have some hearing but have found hearing aids ineffective.
J. Douglas Green Jr., a neurotologist and founder of the Jacksonville Hearing & Balance Institute/The Hearing Center, calls the device “an extraordinary melding of technologies.”
The hybrid includes three elements: an implant that Green puts in place during a 90-minute outpatient procedure; a sound processor that converts high-frequency sounds to electric signals and sends them to the implant; and an acoustic component that functions like a hearing aid, amplifying low-frequency sounds.
The cochlear implant component restores the ability of people to hear high-pitched sound.
The hybrid “gives patients a more natural sound quality,” Green said. “People really like that. There is more clarity to the sounds.”
Green will offer free seminars about the implants: a dinner presentation from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday and a lunch presentation from noon-1:30 p.m. Wednesday at Hotel Indigo, 9840 Tapestry Park Circle.
While seminars are free, seating is limited and a reservation is required. Go to HearingHealthSeminar.com or call (877) 432-7844.
We opened The Hearing Center for several reasons. First, and probably most importantly, we needed more space. As our hearing aid, cochlear implant, and implantable hearing device programs continued to grow, so too did our need for more space and more efficient facilities. Secondly, we needed a more defined space where we could work closer together. At The Hearing Center, we have a repair lab, several consultation and fitting rooms, a sound booth, and plenty of room for all the necessary supplies that come along with a full-service Audiology practice within close proximity. Finally, we wanted a place where we could cater to the needs of our hearing aid and cochlear implant patients. At The Hearing Center, we’ve been able to accomplish just that: hearing aid and cochlear implant repair times are faster, patients are greeted by the same familiar faces, the office is set up to be compatible with hearing devices (come by and check our looped waiting room), and we’re working on creating a new hearing ‘store’, where we will have all sorts of hearing device supplies and accessories available.
That brings us to our new website – www.betterhearingjax.com. Like The Hearing Center, this website has been created to better serve those who have trusted us with their care. We hope this site will become a great resource for our patients, and for anyone who happens to stop by online. We have big plans for the site and are just getting started. We’ll soon have plenty of ‘how to’ videos available for patients and their families, an online store where items such as wax filters and hearing aid batteries can be purchased, an active blog with the latest news from the hearing care industry that will be maintained by our own Audiology staff, and a latest news section, where you can stay up to date on what’s going on at The Hearing Center.
Be sure to keep checking in. We have many exciting events planned for the Spring and Summer months, and you can be sure we’ll keep you posted at www.betterhearingjax.com.
Recently, Drs. J. Douglas Green Jr. and William Eblin Jr., both from Jacksonville Hearing & Balance Institute, were invited speakers at the 2013 Weidner Symposium in Callaway Gardens, GA. The Weidner Symposium is hosted annually by the Auburn University Chapters of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Associations and the Student Academy of Audiology. This year’s topic for the Audiology track was vestibular assessment. The audience of around sixty included audiologists from the Southeast region and students and faculty from the Auburn University Doctor of Audiology program. Dr. Green’s sessions included an overview of the anatomy and physiology of the vestibular system and common pathological conditions of the vestibular system. Dr. Eblin presented on one of his specialty areas, vestibular assessment, and moderated a session of case study presentations.
Along with Drs. Green and Eblin, Ann Lienenwever, a physical therapist and the manager of Brooks Balance Center, spoke about Vestibular Rehabilitation.
Tinnitus, or ringing (also commonly described as buzzing/chirping sounds) in the ears, can be a very debilitating problem. Unfortunately, tinnitus treatments are often complex and costly. One of the best, most cost-effective tinnitus treatments involves the use of hearing aids. In many cases, hearing aids are a “kill two birds with one stone” approach, and are helpful in both the correction of hearing loss and the reduction of tinnitus.
Below is a summary of a retrospective review of 70 patients with hearing loss and chronic tinnitus, courtesy of the American Academy of Audiology. The authors found that hearing aids can be a very effective treatment for tinnitus, and we agree. In fact, some of our most successful hearing aid patients initially began using hearing aids as a tool to help their tinnitus, only to later discover the added advantage of better hearing.
Hearing Aids as Tinnitus Therapy
McNeill et al (2012) report that “hearing aids have become common therapeutic tools in the audiological management of tinnitus.” They note that hearing aids are used in tandem with counseling and hearing aids serve as an important part of treatments, such as Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (Jastreboff and Jastreboff, 2000).
McNeill and colleagues performed a retrospective study of 70 patients (48 males, 22 female, mean age 55 years). Each patient had hearing loss and a primary or secondary complaint of “bothersome chronic tinnitus.” Of note, while wearing hearing aids (Oticon, Phonak or Widex) 26 patients reported their tinnitus was totally masked, 28 reported partial masking (i.e., 77 percent, or 54 of 70 reported partial or total masking) and 16 reported no masking. Tinnitus pitch masking revealed (on average) a perceived pitch of 6900 Hz. Of note, for the group that did not achieve masking (n=16, see above)they reported a mean tinnitus pitch perceived at 8000 Hz (the average perceived tinnitus pitch for the partial masking group was 7,600 Hz and for the total masking group was 5,400 Hz). The authors note the patients who had the most tinnitus relief via their hearing aid fittings had tinnitus matching results within the frequency range of the hearing aids.
McNeill et al report that their results indicate hearing aid fittings may be useful in the management of tinnitus because hearing aids reduce the audibility of tinnitus and hearing aids improve the patient’s reaction to tinnitus. The authors recommend hearing aid fittings to treat tinnitus in patients with hearing loss. Further, they note the best results are obtained when the patient has good low-frequency hearing, a strong reaction to their tinnitus and when the tinnitus pitch is perceived to be (i.e., matched) within the fitting range of the hearing aid.
Living in Florida can get pretty humid, especially in the summer months. Hearing aid users are frequently worried about sweat, rain, and moisture accumulation in their new hearing aid. Well, now there is a solution! Siemens has introduced its first waterproof and dustproof hearing aid: The Aquaris. The device is capable of working as deep as three feet under water and can be connected to their Minitek Bluetooth system. This allows the user to listen to bluetooth-streamed music while swimming, showering, or exercising. JHBI is a provider of Siemens instruments. Give us a call to learn more about this new and exciting product.
One of the most valuable purchases that you may make this year is a pair of new hearing aids. Hearing aids will allow you to reconnect with loved ones and participate in daily activities that you once enjoyed but may be shying away from.
Digital hearing aids are precision instruments, and are sensitive to dust, dirt, moisture, cerumen, hairspray, and other daily influences. Fortunately, there are a few simple care and maintenance steps that when followed regularly can keep your hearing aid sounding and performing optimally. Here are a number of helpful suggestions that you can do at home.
Handle with care
When removing your hearing aid from its packaging, stand over soft ground so that if it falls, it falls onto a soft surface and not a hard floor.
Try to never expose your hearing aid to high heat such as leaving it in your car.
When cleaning your hearing aid, don’t use alcohol or chemical solvents. We suggest the use of baby wipes or Audiowipes instead.
Apply hair care and styling products before you insert your hearing aid. Hair gels and hairspray can clog the components and can sometimes affect the exterior plastic, too.
Protect it from moisture
The digital circuitry in your hearing aid is particularly sensitive to moisture.
Take your hearing aid out before swimming or showering (unless it is a waterproof hearing aid).
Remove the hearing aid before going to sleep, and store it in a clean, dry place.
Before you insert your hearing aid, clean and dry your ears as best as possible.
One of the most common causes of hearing aids having to be returned for service is the buildup of moisture; an inexpensive hearing aid dehumidifier can prevent this, and thus prolong its life.
To use a hearing aid dehumidifier, which removes any accumulation of moisture, remove the batteries from the unit before storing the hearing aid in the dehumidifier overnight.
Remove excessive ear wax from your hearing aid
Becoming clogged with ear wax is the second most common reason that hearing aids require service.
Upon removing your hearing aid, wipe away ear wax using a soft cloth.
Clean any ear wax from the receiver and microphone areas of the device, using a cleaning brush.
What is it like to not hear splashing of water when swimming or not be able to participate fully in Marco Polo with your friends at a pool party? Imagine hearing only silence. For Rachel, a 12 year old bilateral cochlear implant recipient and JHBI patient, situations such as these could not be experienced or fully enjoyed.
Rachel lost her hearing completely at age 5 years and quickly received a cochlear implant to each ear. Since her surgeries, Rachel uses her cochlear implant external sound processors to hear again. She has excelled in school and has even learned to play the violin. Rachel’s original sound processors were water resistant but not waterproof, and she could not use them while swimming or bathing and could not hear to communicate in these situations.
In March 2012, Rachel’s cochlear implant manufacturer, Advanced Bionics, released the first completely waterproof sound processor, the Neptune. When Rachel and her family learned of this new processor option, she immediately “had to have it”. After the Neptune was fit to her right ear, she immediately raced home and went swimming in her back yard.
Share with Rachel and her parents as she uses her new external cochlear implant Neptuneprocessor to enjoy swimming and hearing underwater for the first time.
“I want the most discrete hearing aid possible so that I don’t look old.” This is heard almost daily during our hearing aid consultations. Despite the significant advancements in hearing aid size and technology, there is one thing that hasn’t changed: their stigma. Although a hearing aid is much less noticeable than the hearing loss itself, people continue to shy away from being properly amplified due to the perceived negative impact that it may have on their daily lives. Well, a young girl named Samantha wants to change your perspective on hearing aid use.
“Sean (her brother) and I were born with hearing loss. We both wear hearing aids. It’s not that hard to get used to wearing hearing aids. All you need to do is think of good things and then you put it in your ear and you hear better. That’s all there is to it!”
Samantha, age 8, has written a book about her experience with wearing hearing aids and an FM system at school. The book, called “Samantha’s Fun FM Unit and Hearing Aid Book” was written to explain why she wore her hearing aids at school and to help other hearing aid users (adults and children alike) feel the positive impact of hearing aids. The book not only examines Samantha’s perspective of hearing aids, but also teaches about daily use of the aids and FM system.