DiversityNursing Blog

New Hearing Technology Brings Sound To A Little Girl

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Jun 01, 2015 @ 01:10 PM

LAUREN SILVERMAN

www.npr.org 

auditory implant 1 resized 600Many of us are familiar with the cochlear implant, but did you know it doesn’t work for everyone? We came upon this article featuring information about clinical trials for a new technology that gives the hearing-impaired another option for the ability to hear.

Jiya Bavishi was born deaf. For five years, she couldn't hear and she couldn't speak at all. But when I first meet her, all she wants to do is say hello. The 6-year-old is bouncing around the room at her speech therapy session in Dallas. She's wearing a bright pink top; her tiny gold earrings flash as she waves her arms.

"Hi," she says, and then uses sign language to ask who I am and talk about the ice cream her father bought for her.

Jiya is taking part in a clinical trial testing a new hearing technology. At 12 months, she was given a cochlear implant. These surgically implanted devices send signals directly to the nerves used to hear. But cochlear implants don't work for everyone, and they didn't work for Jiya.

"The physician was able to get all of the electrodes into her cochlea," says Linda Daniel, a certified auditory-verbal therapist and rehabilitative audiologist with HEAR, a rehabilitation clinic in Dallas. Daniel has been working with Jiya since she was a baby. "However, you have to have a sufficient or healthy auditory nerve to connect the cochlea and the electrodes up to the brainstem."

Jiya's connection between the cochlea and the brainstem was too thin. There was no way for sounds to make that final leg of the journey and reach her brain.

Usually, the story would end here. If cochlear implants don't work, you turn to sign language. And the Bavishis did — for years they communicated with their daughter through sign language. But then they heard about an experimental procedure called an auditory brainstem implant.

It is a very rare procedure, according to Dr. Daniel Lee, director of the pediatric ear, hearing and balance center at Harvard Medical School. "There have been less than 200 of these implanted worldwide in children," he says. In the U.S., auditory brainstem implants are approved by the Food and Drug Administration for adults and teenagers who have lost their hearing due to nerve damage, but they have not been approved for use in younger children.

Surgeons in Europe have pioneered the use of the auditory brainstem implant in children who are born deaf and can't receive a cochlear implant, Lee says. "And those data look pretty encouraging."

So in 2013, the FDA approved the first clinical trial in the U.S. for young children. The Bavishis decided to apply for Jiya. It wasn't an easy decision. It would involve surgery to place a tiny microchip into Jiya's brainstem.

"The family was at a crossroads," Daniel says. Did they want to take a chance on a risky, experimental procedure to give their daughter a chance to hear? They decided to try the procedure and traveled from their home in Frisco, Texas, to Chapel Hill, N.C., for the eight-hour surgery. The University of North Carolina is one of four institutions investigating the implant.

Jiya's mom, Jigna Bavishi, pulls back her daughter's purple headband to reveal two of the three parts of the device.

There's the piece that sits on her ear, which works like a microphone to pick up sounds. That microphone is attached to a small black magnet that rests on her head. What you can't see is what the magnet is connected to. And this is what makes it different from a cochlear implant. Below the skin, there's a receiver, and down in the brain stem is the microchip. The idea is that the sounds picked up from the microphone on her ear end up in the implant in the brainstem.

"It's a rectangular shaped element," says rehabilitative audiologist Linda Daniel. "It has two rows of electrodes and each electrode is responsible for a band of frequencies." The electrodes transmit signals directly into the brain.

Daniel says we don't know exactly what Jiya hears.

"I think we could assume that it doesn't sound crisp, distinct, clearly interpretable," she says. "It would take longer to learn to interpret the sound."

Doctors told the Bavishis not to expect any changes for a year or two. But Jiya didn't take that long to start recognizing and mimicking sounds. On the day I visit, Jiya is playing with a yellow toy car. "Beep, beep," she says.

"They actually had to tell us, even though she's doing so good right now, we have to still be careful where we set our expectations," says Jigna.

Doctors will monitor Jiya, and four other children taking part in the study, for the next few years. They'll be studying how their brains develop and incorporate sounds and speech. There are two other clinical trials investigating auditory brainstem implants in children: one at Children's Hospital in Los Angeles, and the other at the New York University School of Medicine.

 

Topics: hearing, hearing loss, clinical trials, implant, cochlear implants, auditory brainstem implant, hearing aids

University of Missouri Nurse Helps Improve Hearing Aid Use

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Mar 02, 2015 @ 02:29 PM

red hearing aid md resized 600

A University of Missouri nurse researcher is working to ensure people who use hearing aids for the first time are not bombarded by sounds that could be overwhelming and potentially painful. 

Individuals who wear hearing aids for the first time can potentially hear sounds they have not heard in months of even years, according to a University of Missouri news release on the research. The study, published online Dec. 17, in the journal Clinical Nursing Research, looked at the feasibility and initial effect of Hearing Aid Reintroduction to assist people 70 to 85 years old to adjust to hearing aids.

Some of the noises hearing aids enable their users to hear are not always easy to embrace, researchers found. These include air conditioners, wind and background conversations which can be annoying, painful and tough to ignore, the release said.

Kari Lane, PhD, RN, MOT, assistant professor of nursing at MU Sinclair School of Nursing, studied a group of elderly adults’ satisfaction with hearing aids after participating in HEAR, according to the release. Study participants recorded the total time they wore hearing aids for 30 days. Participants gradually increased the amount of time they wore the hearing aids and the variety and complexity of sounds they experienced, including household appliances or sounds from crowded areas, the release said. 

“Hearing loss is a common health problem facing many aging adults that can have serious effects on their quality of life, including heightened chances of depression and dementia,” Lane said in the release. “Hearing aids are not an easy fix to hearing loss. Unlike glasses, which provide instant results, it takes more time for the brains of hearing-aid users to fully adjust to the aids and new sounds they could not hear before.”

All participants at the start of the research reported being unsatisfied with their hearing aids, Lane said. At the end of the study, more than half of participants reported being able to increase their hearing aid use and 60% of them said they were satisfied with their hearing aids, the release stated. 

“It is common practice for audiologists to have their patients wear hearing aids all day when they first buy them, but not all persons are able to do this comfortably,” Lane said in the release. “Prior research shows there is a need for alternative ways to teach people how to use hearing aids like the HEAR intervention, which allows hearing-aid users to gradually adjust to using the aids while receiving support and coaching from health professionals and family members.”

Healthcare providers should give patients guidance on conditions they might experience during the aging process, such as hearing loss, according to the release. Such proaction could help to reduce the stigma surrounding hearing aids, Lane said. 

“If healthcare professionals begin discussing hearing loss with their patients sooner, before problems arise, the use of hearing aids could be normalized, and individuals would be better prepared for the transition when it is time for them to begin use,” Lane said in the release. 

Source: http://news.nurse.com

Topics: medical technology, hearing, hearing loss, aid, nursing, technology, health, healthcare, nurse, patient

Android App That Helps The Deaf Have A Conversation On The Phone

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Oct 01, 2014 @ 10:57 AM

By Federico Guerrini

RogerVoice phone app for deaf people1 940x380 resized 600

I just had a Skype chat with entrepreneur Olivier Jeannel about his new product. It was a text chat, as Olivier – just like roughly 70 million people in the world (of which approximately 26 million of Americans) – suffers from profound hearing loss. If he has his way, soon this is no longer going to be a problem. Together with his associate Sidney Burks and product manager Pablo Seuc-Rocher, he’s working on the launch of RogerVoice, an Android app that has been designed from the ground up for those who cannot hear on the phone.

With RogerVoice, the deaf or hard-of-hearing person starts a call and receives on his smartphone instant live transcriptions of what the other speaker is saying, regardless if he is speaking in English or another of the many other languages recognized by the system (Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, German, Greek and Japanese top the list).

While the idea, generally speaking, is brilliant, there are still some hurdles to overcome. Automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology is still far from flawless; also, unlike other softwares (Dragon and friends) that can be trained to recognize a single voice, improving this way the recognition rate, RogerVoice has to work with any kind of voice, so don’t imagine you can have a long, complex conversation without any trouble.

“You might use it to confirm an appointment with a doctor – Olivier says – or tell a plumber to come”. Basic stuff, but enough to significantly improve the quality of life of a deaf person, allowing he or she to rely less on other people’s intervention. It’s also up to the hearing person to make a better effort to enunciate, to help the voice recognition software’s performance. So you could in fact have a long and articulate conversation, provided that the counterpart is a relative, a friend, or someone that’s kind enough not to speak in a rush.

I asked Jeannel if – when the problem is not too severe – an hearing aid wouldn’t work as well, and the answer was quite interesting, because it pointed to the social implications of suffering from hearing loss.

“The interesting fact is – he says – that most deaf people don’t wear hearing aids, only 1 in 5 apparently bother to get equipped. This is because wearing hearing aids is often associated to a kind of social stigma. Also, of the profoundly deaf population, most manage to speak, but understanding a conversation without visual cues is difficult, if not impossible. In my case, impossible without lip-reading. More and more profoundly deaf use cochlear implants, which is a revolution: it helps a lot to understand speech, but it’s still quite difficult over a phone”.

The app is designed to be Bluetooth compatible, meaning that the RogerVoice app could connect directly to a Bluetooth-equipped hearing aid for a better listening experience and, after the launch of the Android version, the team will start working on the iOS and Windows ones.

The business model will be based on subscriptions, with one year of unlimited calls priced at $59 for those that will contribute to the Kickstarter campaign that’s currently running to support the product’s development. As for the time to market, if the $20,000 is reached on Kickstarter, founder hope to release the product by the end of the year. “Hopefully for Christmas – Jeannel says”.

Source: http://www.forbes.com

Topics: deaf, hearing, hearing loss, voice, technology, medical, patients, app

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