NAL at IHCON 2022

The National Acoustic Laboratories is proud to be involved in this year’s International Hearing Aid Research Conference (IHCON), held at Granlibakken Conference Center, Tahoe City, California. Director Brent Edwards, Head of Signal Processing Jorge Mejia, and Head of Audiological Science Padraig Kitterick will be presenting on various innovative and impact-focused research projects conducted throughout the year at NAL:

Insights into Fitting Minimal Hearing Losses

Brent Edwards, Jorge Mejia, Joaquin Valderrama-Valenzuela, Nicky Chong-White

A challenge that hearing healthcare professionals (HHPs) face every day is what hearing health recommendation to make with each patient. Whether to recommend a hearing aid is often based primarily on the level of hearing loss as measured by the audiogram, possibly in combination with a speech test and needs consultation. Recent research, however, suggests that audiograms are insufficient indicators of need, leaving HHPs with the challenge of determining who to make device recommendations to. This is particularly challenging for people who present with self-reported hearing difficulty but very little measurable hearing loss (PTA less than 25 dB HL). This talk will answer two questions on this topic: Should HHPs recommend hearing devices to people with no-to-mild hearing loss, and how well can hearing devices benefit people with no-to-mild hearing losses?

Real-World Evaluation of a Self-Fitted Hearing Aids

Jorge Mejia, Alexandra Thompson, Arun Sebastian, Jessica Cooper, Catherine Morgan

Self-fitting hearing aids allow users to perform a hearing threshold assessment to produce a prescribed amplification setting, without audiology support. The primary goal of these devices is to expand and diversify hearing intervention options available to adults with hearing loss and increase the uptake of hearing aids. Increasingly, self-fitting hearing aids are made available directly to consumers. However, there is limited evidence to support the efficacy of self-fitted hearing aids in meeting the communication needs of users. We conducted a clinical study to examine the real-world benefit of a self-fitted hearing aid. Herein we report our laboratory and real world outcomes and discuss clinical implications.

Real-World Evaluation of a New Active Vent Receiver for Hearing Aids

Jorge Mejia, Taegan Young, Matthew Crouteau, Catherine Morgan

The abnormal perception of one’s own voice as too loud or “boomy” in occluded ears remains a primary reason that most hearing aids fitted today use relatively large vents in earmoulds or open fittings. However, the disadvantage of open-fitted hearing aids is acoustic leakage, limiting the bandwidth of amplified sounds arriving at the user’s ears and impacting the potential gain that the hearing aids can provide without causing feedback. The newest advancement in hearing aid occlusion management was recently introduced as an electronically controlled acoustic vent (ActiveVent) integrated into the receiver as part of a receiver-in-the canal fitting. The ActiveVent opens in situations where own voice sounds may be problematic, such as while talking in quiet listening situations, and closes in situations where directional processing and noise reduction systems are most beneficial, such as when listening in a noisy environment, and also when having a larger bandwidth is important, such as when listening to audio streaming devices. In an exploratory study, we examined the real-world benefits that a hearing aid with the ActiveVent feature may offer. Preliminary results are presented herein, and the clinical significance of the outcomes is discussed.

Latent factor analysis of hearing aid outcomes using multiple-indicator multiple-cause model

David Allen, Melanie Ferguson, Deanna Conner, Jessica Cooper, Catherine McMahon, Jorge Mejia, Jessica Monaghan, Ifeyinwa Okonkwo, Jermy Pang, Finnian Sonter, Raaya Tiko, Padraig Kitterick

In association with Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin University/Ear Science Institute Australia, Perth, Australia, Hearing Australia, Sydney Australia, Macquarie University, Sydney Australia

Two key challenges when predicting outcomes after hearing aid fitting are that a multitude of factors can influence outcomes, and that benefit from hearing aids is a multi-dimensional construct. Measuring benefit also typically involves the use of multiple patient-reported outcome measures that are themselves often multi-dimensional, not designed to measure independent constructs, and are often highly correlated with each other. Dimension reduction approaches such as factor analysis can be useful in examining latent factors underpinning the pattern of scores across such measures. We demonstrate the application of multiple indicator multiple cause (MIMIC) modelling as a framework for studying the complex relationships between a range of predictive factors and outcomes following hearing aid fitting.

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