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OSU Professor Makes Strides in Hearing Aid Research

Celebrating 35 years of Caring for Your Hearing

Meredy Hase tests a child, 1987  Kupperman and Hase work to license audiologists in Wisconsin, 1989

 

Hearing Loss UNDER Age 65

We used to think of hearing loss as something that only happened to our grandparents' generation. But you'd be surprised at how many people your age, and even younger, have a hearing problem.
According to a study recently published by the Better Hearing Institute, two-thirds of Americans with hearing loss are under the age of 65 and still in the work force. That includes one of every six "Baby Boomers" (ages 41 to 59) and one of every 14 "Generation X'ers" (age 29-40).

According to Meredy Hase, Doctor of Audiology, "Hearing loss is by no means an 'old person's disease' any longer. Each day, we see people of all ages come into our offices concerned they may have a hearing problem.

"There's even solid evidence to support the fact that for working Americans, hearing loss impacts their ability to make a living, up to $12,000 in lost income per year." (See related article)
Dr. Hase urges anyone who thinks they, or a loved one, may have a hearing loss to contact The Doctors of Audiology at Hearing Services without delay.

Auditory Deprivation

Auditory Deprivation refers to the fact that even though we "hear" with our ears, it's our brain that's the true organ of hearing.

When hearing loss is left untreated, the brain's ability to distinguish various sounds becomes less and less. Try to think of Auditory Deprivation as similar, in a sense, to muscles that atrophy when not used over a long period of time.

The reason Auditory Deprivation is important is that we have ample evidence proving how long people will wait before seeking help for a suspected hearing loss. Up to ten years, by some estimates.

In other words, the longer you wait to get help for your hearing loss, the less even the most advanced hearing instruments will be able to help you hear better. That's one more reason physicians recommend annual hearing checks as part of an overall health assessment.
The Doctors of Audiology at Hearing Services can perform hearing screenings that take only a few minutes. Concerned individuals are urged to contact them at the first signs of hearing loss, such as an inability to understand conversations in a crowded room or having to turn up the TV volume in order to hear.

Hearing & Income Loss

After years of research, there is new evidence that links hearing loss and loss of income. A study released by the Better Hearing Institute in Alexandria, VA, proves that untreated hearing loss may impact household income by as much as $12,000 per year.

The study also shows that hearing loss, which affects more than 28 million Americans, two thirds of whom are still in the work force, results in an annual loss of more than $100 billion in wages and worker productivity. The good news is people who find help for their hearing loss can regain up to 50% of that lost income.

According to Meredy Hase, Doctor of Audiology, "One of the misconceptions about hearing loss is that it's 'an old person's ailment'. But we know that hearing loss crosses all income lines and impacts people of all ages".

The new "Open Ear" Digital hearing instruments are especially designed to help Baby Boomers feel more comfortable about wearing hearing instruments.

Anyone interested in receiving a FREE Demonstration of Open Fit hearing technology are urged to contact the Doctors of Audiology at Hearing Services.

Hearing Loss & the Family

For years, both researchers and hearing healthcare professionals have known much about the causes of hearing loss and how it affects the person who suffers from it.

But not until recently has attention been paid as to the devastating effects hearing loss has on family members and friends as well. This past year alone, several organizations have weighed in with their findings on this often overlooked medical problem that by current estimates, affects the lives and families of more than 30 million Americans.

For example, the National Council on Aging (NCOA), a government agency whose task it is to research the lives of older Americans, released a study that confirms how often a person with hearing loss begins to feel isolated, eventually withdrawing from normal everyday activities and even from family and friends.

None of this is news, however, to Dr. Meredy Hase,  who says, "I realized just how much hearing loss also affected family members when we''d spend so much time counseling them when we''d fit their loved one with hearing instruments".

The benefits of better hearing were the subject of an NBC report that aired on an installment of the NBC Nightly News. In that report, the testimonials of several patients and their families provided evidence of how lives can be changed for the good, once the decision has been made to seek help for a hearing problem.

Those interviewed talked about how experiences such as watching TV or enjoying conversations with loved ones - things that were not possible with hearing loss - were once again part of the everyday enjoyment of life. Social activities like dining at restaurants of going to the movies were also among the range of family life experienced through better hearing.

Thanks to recent advances in technology more help is available than ever before for those whose lives are affected by hearing loss. If left untreated, hearing loss will almost always become worse over time, another reason Dr. Hase urges people to contact the Doctors of Audiology at Hearing Services if a hearing loss is thought to exist.

More Hearing Healthcare News
 

An Ohio State professor has made strides in hearing aid research in an effort to solve a difficult auditory occurrence called “the cocktail party problem.”

The cocktail party problem occurs when too many things are happening in a room simultaneously, and the hearing aid can’t pinpoint individual sounds.

“The mechanisms for hearing loss are a lot more complicated compared to nearsightedness or needing reading glasses,” Deliang Wang, a professor of computer science and engineering, said.

To filter out the random noise, Wang and his team used a technique called deep learning — an algorithm used to tell machines how to function for a humanlike task.

“Deep learning has all sorts of applications,” Wang said. “But there’s a very significant benefit to people with hearing aids.”

The application is considered a breakthrough in hearing technology, and Ohio State is the first in the world to apply the technique in the field and dominate new research. Wang called it a new solution to an old challenge.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, more than 15 percent of Americans report having some type of hearing loss in their life, but only 1 in 5 people actually benefit from hearing aid use.

But to long-time hearing-impaired listeners, the cocktail party phenomenon represents more of a social issue than an actual danger.

Eric Healy, professor of speech and hearing at the Speech Psychoacoustic Lab, has been involved with hearing science for more than 20 years and has collaborated with Wang since 2012.

Primarily working with the human subjects of their research, Healy said this research will address the “No. 1 complaint.”

“They all say the same thing, their hearing aids work fine when at home, but anytime they go anywhere noisy the hearing aids just don’t work at all,” Healy said.

Another aspect of their research is to provide an opportunity to blend the experience of people who wear hearing aids and people who don’t.

By stripping away the amplifiers used in regular aids, background noise can be eliminated, and the ability to better understand speech is increased by almost 100 percent, according to Wang’s cover article featured in the IEEE Spectrum magazine.

While the improved hearing aid is not available yet, the same deep-learning technology has been used in machines for automatic driving, headphones and smartphones. New digital hearing aids have more processing power than their predecessors.

“There’s little question that this is the future of noise reduction,” Healy said.

Article originally appeared on The Lantern.