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Hearing aid verification using real ear measurement systems

2012-09-04

According to a 2009 study by Consumer Reports, 66 percent of the nation's hearing aids may be set incorrectly. That same study also stated that 73 percent of patients were “highly satisfied” with their hearing aids. This demonstrates that people may be very accepting of even mediocre hearing improvement. According to a study by Sergei Kochkin, Ph.D., executive director of the Better Hearing Institute, less than half of all hearing aid fittings in this country have been objectively verified using real ear measures.

According to many experts, the use of real ear measurement, specifically speech mapping, is the “best practice” and should be a standard service in fitting hearing aids. The United Kingdom requires real ear measures as part of verifying correct hearing aid fittings.

The use of real ear measures provides the wearer with a valid, replicable measure of the improvement received from amplification. Speech mapping is quickly and easily done in the office and can take less than ten minutes to complete. The audiogram of the wearer is entered into the computer and a fitting algorithm is applied, which produces “targets.” A tiny probe tube is inserted into each ear canal, along with the hearing aid. The wearer is seated in front of a small speaker which produces continuous speech at various loudness levels. The response in the ear canal is recorded and displayed on the screen in real time. It is quickly apparent whether or not the hearing aids are providing appropriate sound to the wearer. Programming adjustments are made instantly.

Obtaining the most benefit and optimal improvement from your hearing aids should include real ear measurement verification procedures. Ask your audiologist if this is a service they provide. It takes the guesswork out of fitting hearing aids and is an important component of “patient-centered” hearing care.

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