Audiometer apps: reliability & potential

Megan Corry, Michael Sanders, and Grant D. Searchfield. The accuracy and reliability of an app-based audiometer using consumer headphones: pure tone audiometry in a normal hearing group.  International Journal Of Audiology.  Published online: 09 May 2017.

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Objective: To undertake a preliminary evaluation of the test–retest reliability, and accuracy of an iPad audiometer app using commercial earphones as a low-cost alternative to a clinical audiometer in a restricted sample of normal hearing participants.

Design: Twenty participants self-reporting normal hearing undertook four pure-tone audiometry tests in a single session. Two tests were performed with a 2-channel Type 1 audiometer (GSI-61) using EAR insert earphones and two tests with an iPad based app (Audiogram Mobile) using Apple earbud headphones.

Study sample: Twenty normal hearing participants (13 female and seven male participants, aged 21–26 years) were recruited for the test–retest and accuracy evaluations. Results: The app resulted in different thresholds to the audiometer (F(1, 19) = 16.635, p < 0.001). However test–retest reliability was similar. The app froze or quit unexpectedly over 25% of times used.

Conclusions: Audiometer apps have great potential for clinical settings, especially in resource scarce environments, but reliability should not be assumed. While a low cost-alternative to standard transducers, issues of accuracy and calibration of consumer headphones need to be addressed before such combinations can be used with confidence.

The Utilization of Social Media in the Hearing Aid Community

Choudhury, M. et al. (2017) American Journal of Audiology. Vol. 26(3) pp. 1-9

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Image source: mkhmarketing – Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Purpose: This study investigated the utilization of social media by the hearing aid (HA) community. The purpose of this survey was to analyze the participation of HA community in the social media websites.

Conclusions: HA users, other individuals, and organizations interested in HAs leave their digital footprint on a wide variety of social media sources. The community connects, offers support, and shares information on a variety of HA-related issues. The HA community is as active in social media utilization as other groups, such as the cochlear implant community, even though the patterns of their social media use are different because of their unique needs.

Read the abstract here

New and emerging technologies for hearing loss

The NIHR Horizon Scanning Research and Intelligence Centre has published a horizon scanning review of new and emerging technologies that are being developed for the management and reduction of the negative consequences of hearing loss.

More than 11 million, (approximately one in six) people in the UK are affected by hearing loss, the majority (92%) experiencing mild to moderate hearing loss. The likelihood of hearing loss increases with age, with more than 70% of 70 year-olds experiencing some form of hearing loss. Hearing loss is however, not uncommon in children; there are over 45,000 children in the UK who have a profound hearing loss.

This review identified 55 technologies that fitted the identification criteria: five educational programmes, six auditory and cognitive training programmes, five assistive listening devices, eleven hearing aids (HAs) and alternative listening devices, eight implants and devices, twelve drugs, one regenerative medicine approach, and seven surgical procedures. Most of the developments were in early or uncertain clinical research and would require additional evaluation before widespread adoption by patients and the NHS.

Experts and patients picked out technologies of interest including: apps for converting speech to text and sign language to speech, hearing aids and alternative listening devices to support listening in different environments, a fully implantable cochlear implant (CI) system, a closed-loop CI system, and three developments to support the tuning and optimisation of HAs. If these were successful they have the potential to change the CI landscape for patients, improve patient experience and use of HAs, and to affect service delivery and provision.

New and emerging technologies for hearing loss can be downloaded here

Internet-based peer support for Ménière’s disease

Pyykkő, I. et al. International Journal of Audiology. Published online: 9 February 2017

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Objective: This paper presents a summary of web-based data collection, impact evaluation, and user evaluations of an Internet-based peer support program for Ménière’s disease (MD).

Conclusions: We suggest that a web-based data collection and impact evaluation for peer support can be helpful while formulating the rehabilitation goals of building the self-confidence needed for coping and increasing social participation.

Read the full abstract here

m-Health Self-Management Program for the Smartphone Generation

Ferguson, M. (2017) Hearing Journal. 70(1) p. 44

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How confident are you that all the important information and advice you offer new hearing aid clients is understood, absorbed, and acted upon once they leave the comfort of your clinic?

Research shows that hearing aid users, even long-term users, have difficulties manipulating their devices (Am J Audiol. 2009;18[1]:69 http://bit.ly/2fC7Lsi). But to successfully benefit from hearing aids, new users must have a good understanding of the many practical and psychosocial issues around hearing loss, communication, and hearing aids.

Read the full article here

Speech perception enhancement in elderly hearing aid users

Yu, J. et al. (2017) Geriatrics & Gerontology International. Vol. 17. pp. 61–68.

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Aims: The goal of the present study was to develop an auditory training program using a mobile device and to test its efficacy by applying it to older adults suffering from moderate-to-severe sensorineural hearing loss.

Conclusions: This result pattern suggests that a moderate amount of auditory training using the mobile device with cost-effective and minimal supervision is useful when it is used to improve the speech understanding of older adults with hearing loss.

Read the full abstract here

Effectiveness of alternative listening devices to conventional hearing aids: systematic review protocol

Maidment, D.W. et al. BMJ Open. 6:e011683

phone-1537916_960_720Introduction: Hearing loss is a major public health concern, affecting over 11 million people in the UK. While hearing aids are the most common clinical intervention for hearing loss, the majority of people that would benefit from using hearing aids do not take them up. Recent technological advances have led to a rapid increase of alternative listening devices to conventional hearing aids. These include hearing aids that can be customised using a smartphone, smartphone-based ‘hearing aid’ apps, personal sound amplification products and wireless hearing products. However, no systematic review has been published evaluating whether alternative listening devices are an effective management strategy for people with hearing loss.

Methods and analysis: The objective of this systematic review is to assess whether alternative listening devices are an effective intervention for adults with hearing loss. Methods are reported according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-analyses Protocols (PRISMA-P) 2015 checklist. Retrospective or prospective studies, randomised controlled trials, non-randomised controlled trials, and before-after comparison studies will be eligible for inclusion. We will include studies with adult participants (≥18 years) with a mild or moderate hearing loss. The intervention should be an alternative listening device to a conventional hearing aid (comparison). Studies will be restricted to outcomes associated with the consequences of hearing loss. We will search relevant databases to identify published, completed but unpublished and ongoing trials. The overall quality of included evidence will be evaluated using the GRADE system, and meta-analysis performed if appropriate.

Ethics and dissemination: No ethical issues are foreseen. The findings will be reported at national and international conferences, primarily audiology, and ear, nose and throat, and in a peer-reviewed journal using the PRISMA guidelines.

Read the full article here