After establishing a diagnosis based on your hearing impairment, we help you create management and assist you in the same.
The success of hearing aid fittings depends on an accurate and in-depth hearing evaluation conducted by a licensed or certified hearing professional. The assessment must be sufficient to determine the extent and cause of the hearing loss and to reflect the patient’s candidacy for hearing aid use. The decision for hearing aids requires both auditory and non-auditory considerations.
The audiometric information alone is insufficient to predict success with hearing aids. Aging factors as well as personality features play a big role in hearing aid candidacy including the patient’s motivation to hear better, emotional levels, willingness to learn how to use the hearing aids and acknowledgment of their hearing loss and the associated communication difficulties in business and everyday living situations.
a.) Planning and hearing aid selection and fitting
The obvious goal of any hearing aid fitting is to improve the patient’s communication abilities by maximizing their hearing potential through personal amplification devices. Previous hearing aid users will no doubt require less treatment planning time than new users. In addition to discussions and demonstrations, the new user should be sent home with printed materials to review as necessary. This approach to a treatment plan provides counseling for realistic expectations as well as a time-based estimate of when to expect results.
The audiologist needs to carefully and thoughtfully assess the lifestyle and hearing needs of the patient prior to making hearing aid recommendations. Although the audiologist’s role is to fairly present the options available and provide guidance, the final decisions should be made by the patient, or the patient’s family. The style of hearing aid chosen will likely depend on degree and configuration of hearing loss as well as the patient’s cosmetic concerns, battery life and external ear geometry. Decisions will be influenced by the patient’s manual dexterity, visual abilities, desired advanced features, amplification characteristics, including the style and technology of the hearing aids, and of course, ability to pay the required cost which can be expensive for both unilateral and binaural fittings.
There may be a divergence between the audiologist’s knowledge of what styles and features are suitable for a successful fitting outcome versus the appropriateness of the patient’s desires. The goal in hearing aid selection and fitting is to provide comfortable hearing instruments that will meet the lifestyle needs of the patient while easing the patient’s communication difficulties and maximizing performance in different listening environments.
b.) Verification of Hearing Aid Fitting
In the past, hearing evaluations and fittings for hearing aids consisted mostly of a series of beeps and noises. Today, Audiologists are equipped with new technologies and methods to make the hearing evaluation process and hearing aid programming process more effective.
Real-ear measurements are important because they measure how a hearing aid’s intensity (volume) and frequency response (pitch) are affected by your ear. When hearing aid manufacturers create a hearing aid and decide how to program it they do so based on one sized and shaped ear. Real-ear measurements allow us to apply the hearing aid fitting to your specific ear. Using real-ear measurements, we are able to measure how your ear affects the intensity and frequency response of the hearing aid and adjust the hearing aid settings based on that response. The results are hearing aid settings that are best suited for the size and shape of your ear and for your hearing loss.
Live Speech Mapping
Live speech mapping is a Real-Ear Measurement or verification method that is used to ensure that your hearing aids are programmed for your individual needs. With this method, small microphones are placed into the ear canal and are used to measure the response of the hearing aid (in your ear), taking into account the natural and individual characteristics of both your ear and your hearing loss.
Our Doctor of Audiology will have high-tech equipment that will allow him or her to “see” what you are hearing through your hearing aids on a screen in real-time. The results may also be displayed on a wall-mounted screen so that you can also see the adjustments and participate in the process. This allows both you and your family members to visualize and understand the differences that hearing aids can make in your hearing ability.
Benefits of our Live Speech Mapping
Our live speech mapping is known for its accuracy. Without speech mapping verification, other methods to program your hearing aid may require additional adjustments. Live speech mapping increases the chances that your hearing aid programming will be done correctly on the first try.
Live speech mapping also creates a much more positive fitting experience by allowing both you and your family to see the immediate results of your hearing aids and their positive impact on your ability to hear. Both you and your family will be engaged in the fitting process, making it a joint affair.
If you have a hearing loss, you may not be able to fully understand what you can and cannot hear, and therefore, you may not understand everything you are missing. With speech mapping, you will have the ability to hear the improvements immediately, and you will show exactly what you can and cannot hear in real-time.
3. Follow up and monitoring
Our job does not end with just providing you the correct treatment. Instead, we conduct an extensive follow up and monitoring process to evaluate if it has brought about any substantial improvement in your problem.
Many people use hearing aids as part of the management of their hearing and communication needs. Hearing aids are usually fitted in a clinic setting by an audiologist who should also advise on the use and management of the device, as well as aspects of communication specific to the individual. Hearing aids should be programmed, and functionality set to meet individual needs and capabilities.
Traditionally, after hearing aid fitting there is a follow-up appointment. This follow-up enables: the individual to share their experience with the audiologist and for adjustments to be made, for the audiologist to provide further advice and support including onward referral to other agencies as required, for the audiologist to observe the correct fitting and handling of the device and for patient-reported outcome and experience measures to be obtained.
A follow-up appointment as part of the hearing aid fitting pathway is included within current recommended practice documents. Where a follow-up appointment is offered, these are sometimes face-to-face in clinic and sometimes over the telephone. It is also unclear as to the optimal timing for follow-up and if further long-term monitoring is of value.
The current guidance documents also indicate that people should be offered an appointment to reassess their hearing and communication needs 3 years following their previous assessment. However, this invitation for review currently varies depending on location and service provider and service users may be unaware that a reassessment is an option. Exceptions may include groups of people who are considered suitable for reassessment for a specific reason, for example, people with dual sensory impairment or people with learning disabilities.
Aural rehabilitation is defined holistically as the reduction of hearing-loss-induced deficits of function, activity, participation, and quality of life through a combination of sensory management, instruction, perceptual training, and counseling. There is a tendency for audiologists to focus on sensory management, aural rehabilitation being seen as something done by someone else after the provision of hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Effective sensory management may, by itself, lead to improved activity, participation, and quality of life, but there is no guarantee that these outcomes will be automatic or optimal. In fact, there is often a disconnect between clinical measures of assisted auditory function and self-assessed benefit. Costs associated with a holistic approach can be minimized by bundling as many as possible into the cost of hearing devices, by taking advantage of computer-based perceptual training, and by capitalizing on the benefits of group counseling.
Hearing loss acquired in adult life can have a serious impact on the quality of life. This impact results primarily from deficits in the activities of speech perception and communication and the limitations imposed by these deficits on participation in social interactions, in employment, in leisure pursuits, and in the enjoyment of sound. The goal of rehabilitation is to restore the quality of life by eliminating, reducing, or circumventing these deficits and limitations.
This goal can be addressed through a combination of:
This concept of adult aural rehabilitation is summed up in the following definition: the reduction of hearing-loss-induced deficits of function, activity, participation, and quality of life through sensory management, instruction, perceptual training, and counseling.
4.Repair and maintenance services
Regardless of which model and style you select, every hearing aid comes with a set of instructions on how to properly clean and maintain your device. Because you wear your hearing aids daily, it’s good to develop a cleaning routine to keep them operating properly. This means wiping them off with a dry cloth when you take them out, checking any components for excess earwax, and visually inspecting your hearing aid for any scratches or damage that may be causing them to act up. If you notice any kind of issue with your hearing aid or it’s not working as well as it once did, call our office to have one of our professionals examine it.
It’s also a good idea to have your hearing aid professionally cleaned twice a year; this allows your hearing specialist to check your device for any issues, in addition to thoroughly cleaning it.