Dr. Wright's Blog

The Use of Communication Strategies to Enhance Hearing

Hearing aids will help you hear better than without hearing aids, however certain situations are more challenging than others and there are things that we can do to optimize listening situations. 

For example,

  1. Face the person you are speaking with
  2. Have good lighting
  3. Reduce the amount of background noise; for example, turn off the radio or TV in the background.
  4. Speak clearly, not louder.
  5. Get the person’s attention before you start speaking to them; say their name or tap their shoulder.
  6. Reduce the distance between you and the listener.
  7. Pause between sentences.

Communication breakdowns leave both listener and speaker frustrated. If the speaker is talking to you from another room, turning away while they are speaking, or speaking before asking for your attention the listener might reply with “what? speak up.”  This breakdown in communication interrupts the natural flow of the conversation and often ends in frustration, or the worst response to say to someone with hearing loss: never mind. 

Remember that hearing loss is an invisible disability that already makes social situations stressful and can leave the listener feeling embarrassed or left out of the conversation. 

Be empathic, be kind, have compassion for the one with hearing loss.

The New Oticon Opn Hearing Aid

Lia Best with Tomas Behrens and Kris Hewitt from Oticon

(photo above is Thomas Behrens an Oticon engineer, Lia Best, Audiologist and Kris Hewitt from Oticon)

Broadmead Hearing Clinic's Audiologist Lia Best recently joined more than 400 Audiologists at a professional conference in Toronto that introduced Oticon Opn.  Opn expertly manages multiple speech and noise sources so people don’t have to work as hard to understand speech, even in challenging listening situations like restaurants or social gatherings. 

What Lia learned is that preliminary testing shows that Opn increases speech understanding, the parameter most important to hearing aid wearers, by 30%. People who wear Opn also experience 20% less listening effort when trying to understand speech.

The small, discreet hearing aid is a powerhouse of innovative technology.  Opn is powered by the high speed Velox platform – 50 times faster than previous technology – that scans, analyzes and reacts to sounds in the environments more than 100 times per second.  Opn allows wearers to enjoy an open sound experience where surrounding sounds are available but not intrusive. They can easily follow the sounds they want to hear and quickly shift their attention when desired. 

Opn offers easy wireless connectivity to a variety of smartphones and other iOS and Android devices.  Audio is streamed directly to the hearing aids using Bluetooth technology developed especially for hearing aids that uses significantly less battery power when streaming. 

With the free, downloadable Oticon OPN App, wearers can control volume, program or device selection and other functions with just a tap of their smartphone.

This new hearing aid is available for shipping starting today, June 6, 2016. 

We are very excited about this shift away from traditional directionality and are curious to see if our patients will prefer this approach.  If you are interested in being one of our first to try this new hearing aid please give our office a call and we can arrange a free 3 week trial.

New Phonak Microphone

Great news for people who have trouble hearing in groups.  Phonak has just released a brand new microphone that is meant to be used in dynamic or noisy environments .  

This microphone is called a Roger Table Mic and is set on a table picking up the speech of the people who are nearby.  This piece of assistive technology works alongside hearing aids

The way it works is that the microphone picks up the sound from the microphone (which looks like a box on the table) and transmits it wirelessly into a receiver that is attached to your hearing aid.  This will work with any brand of hearing aid. 

Currently  we have one of our clients using the table top microphone with her Phonak hearing aids for playing bridge. She absolutely loves it as she can hear the bid with so much more ease. 

If you are having trouble hearing in groups, let us know and we can set up a microphone for you to try to see if it works for you.

Phonak Microphone Video


Tinnitus Awareness Week

May 16-20 is National Tinnitus Awareness week. 

A few years ago, our clinic was part of a pilot project testing new equipment to try to sound match tinnitus.  In this study people used iPads to create different sounds together to try to recreate their tinnitus sound.  It was through participating in this exercise that my empathy for those with tinnitus increased a hundred fold.  Some of the sounds that people were creating were like fingernails on a chalkboard combined with a cat's meow.  It was present constantly and the volume they had recreated was surprisingly loud to me.  I had often thought of tinnitus being a high frequency constant pure tone that was for the most part innocuous.  Or that has been the type of tinnitus I had experienced after leaving a loud concert.  The sound that some people manage all day is exhausting.  Tinnitus is exhausting.  Truly.  The cortisol being produced by the body in reaction to the autonomic nervous system's flight or fight response has to be metabolized by the adrenal glands which can lead to fatigue. 

The frustrating thing is how people for years have been told by their doctors just to live with it.  In fact, THERE IS HELP!!!  We have successfully managed tinnitus in about 85% of cases that come into the clinic.  There are products and counseling strategies that we can give patients as tools to learn to habituate the tinnitus. 

If you, or someone you know has tinnitus, the number one most important thing is to know that there is help, and to see an Audiologist to have a proper diagnostic evaluation to determine the cause of the tinnitus.  The cause is critical to the solution.


May Is Better Speech and Hearing Month

This is a time of year where Audiologists and Speech Pathologists from around North America share information about what they do with the public to increase awareness around communication disorders and services that are available for those who are hard of hearing or who have speech or language delays. 

This year, our national organization Speech Audiology Canada (SAC) is looking for people to share their stories of how their Audiologist has impacted their lives. 

One wish I have is that I could have a hidden camera in my office to capture peoples comments or reactions to hearing.  I often have expressions of amazement, beaming smiles and even tears of joy as people experience things they have never heard or haven't heard in a long time.  I would love for the world to see these expressions of joy. 

If you are so inclined, and would like to share your story, email me (drwright@broadmeadhearing.com)  a video of you and I will post it on our social media with the hastag #maymonthstories. 

The Pan-Canadian Alliance of speech pathology and Audiology (and me) want to hear from you!


Hearing Fact

More than 8 million Canadians have some type of hearing problem. Hearing difficulties are often unrecognized by the person involved. Children and teenagers seldom complain about the symptoms of hearing loss, and adults may lose their hearing so gradually they do not realize it is happening.

The first step in treatment of a hearing problem is a hearing evaluation by an audiologist.