The Post-Auricular Canal Hearing Aid: A Better Solution?
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of Speech and Hearing Science Honors Theses; 2006
Hearing aid users face many problems and obstacles when choosing a particular style of hearing aid. Completely-in-the Canal (CIC) hearing aids provide significant acoustic benefit because the hearing aid delivers sound to a point very near the tympanic membrane (ear drum), resulting in high frequency amplification and a reduction of the occlusion effect that occurs when the ear canal is plugged. However, these styles can encounter maintenance problems due to a build up of cerumen (ear wax) in the hearing aid receiver. In addition to maintenance issues, the CIC cannot be worn by some hearing-impaired individuals because it cannot fit into the size and shape of their ear canals. A new style of hearing aid, called the SeboTek PAC, claims to provide the acoustic benefits of the CIC instrument without the drawbacks often encountered with the smaller CIC instruments. This study was designed to test the effectiveness of the device, specifically as it relates to the manufacturer’s claims of a reduction of the occlusion effect, optimal high frequency amplification, and increased speech understanding ability. It was expected that because the speaker portion of the PAC hearing aids fits deeply in the ear canal, the high frequency amplification, occlusion, speech recognition ability in quiet and noise, and perceived benefit obtained using the new device would be comparable to that obtained from CIC style hearing aids. Ten adult subjects with high frequency sensorineural hearing loss were recruited for this study. The subjects were already fit with and wearing CIC or ITC (In-the-Canal) digital hearing aids. The subjects were seen in three visits spaced approximately 2 weeks apart. A routine hearing test was performed to ensure that the subject’s hearing loss falls within the fitting range of the new PAC hearing aid. Before being fit with the new hearing aid, the subject’s performance with their current hearing aid was assessed using the California Consonant Test (CCT) (Owens & Schubert, 1977) to assess speech understanding in quiet, the Quick Speech in Noise (QSIN) Test (Killion et al., 2001) to measure the subject’s ability to hear speech in noise, the measurement of gain and occlusion produced by the user’s current hearing aids, and the subject’s perception of performance with their current hearing aids using a questionnaire, the Abbreviated Profile of Hearing Aid Benefit (APHAB) (Cox & Alexander, 1995). The subjects were then fit with the SeboTek PAC hearing aids and wore them for approximately 2 weeks. The performance of the subjects using the SeboTek hearing aids was then measured using the CCT and QSIN and measures on gain and occlusion. Results from the assessments for both hearing aid conditions were compared statistically to determine how the PAC style hearing aid compared to the subject’s own hearing aids. The results indicated no significant difference between the subjects’ own hearing aids and the SeboTek PAC style hearing aids on measures of occlusion, speech understanding in quiet, speech understanding in noise, or perceived benefit. A significant difference in high frequency gain did exist, with the subjects’ own hearing aids providing an average of 5 dB more gain than the SeboTek PAC style hearing aids. However, the significance of that finding for everyday living is questionable, given the lack of difference in the other measures of hearing aid performance. For the limited number of subjects in this study, it was concluded that the SeboTek PAC style hearing aids would provide an acceptable alternative to the CIC style hearing aids and that future research on the device is warranted.
SeboTek Hearing Systems
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