Hearing loss has a massive impact on our patients. Any hearing loss can affect quality of life and work in fact the unemployment rate amongst the hard of hearing is nearly 50%. That’s a huge amount of people not working because they have hearing loss.
The thing is it does not need to be this way. With hearing aid technology moving at a rapid pace and people with normal hearing all walking about with things stuck in their ears stigma should not be a concern.
Hearing aids now are connecting you to everything. Skype calls can be carried out through your hearing aids, Music can be streamed through your hearing aids, sounds of the ocean can be streamed through your hearing aids in fact some hearing aids can even translate foreign languages!
Stigma for hearing aids included size, they whistle, cant hear the phone, old people wear them.
Let’s look at the OPN by Oticon. Arguably the best hearing aid chip that is on the market even if it is 2 years old. Oticon were 10 years in developing the Velox chip which is the fastest and best chip on the market.
Other manufacturers comment that they are ahead of Oticon and if additional things like hearing aids translating languages for you which Starkey offer through their Livio AI hearing aid or texting you voice calls so you can read as well as hear which Phonak off through their Audeo Marvel range of hearing aids then yes Oticon are a little behind.
Let’s remember a hearing aids first and most important role though. Its to make you hear better right? This is where I feel Oticon are ahead. Especially with the Velox chip and its brain hearing philosophy.
Historically music has been a hard area for hearing aids to cope with. Mainly due to their limited bandwidth and the risk of feedback at high inputs. This has resulted in hearing aids sounding distorted.
Oticon OPN overcomes this shortcoming and allows their hearing aid wearers to hear with a more natural sound and extra clarity. Oticon Opn allows its listeners to hear individual instruments with clarity and distinguish sound levels within the music. Oticon Opn will also use its technology to improve your speech in background noise allowing lower listening efforts. Its intelligent enough to know when to increase the bandwidth and reduce feedback when there is noise or music. It really does open up your world and give you a centralised sound that feels like its in your brain and not your ears. Remember you hear with your brain not your ears. Your ears only deliver the sound to the brain the brain processes the information so we can hear clearly. Oticon understands this and works backwards.
A recent independent hearing aid study by Marshall Chasin, AuD which was published in Hearing Review, is titled: ‘Use of a novel technique to improve amplified sound quality for both music and speech’. It was designed to formally assess the effect of the advanced digital signal processing that the Velox chip in Oticon Opn hearing aids delivers.
Velox increases your Oticon Opn hearing aids input limits and enables more information to be processed at a faster rate which gives you a more accurate sound when listening to all different kinds of music.
The study carried out took people who were musicians or passionate about music all the way down to casual listeners. Oticon wanted to make sure they covered all bases when making the Velox chip so that everyone could enjoy music as it was meant to be enjoyed. Tough huh? How do you please everyone?
The conclusion? It did not matter whether you were a casual listener or a musician playing in an orchestra the feedback was that the Oticon Opn hearing instrument significantly improved speech and music.
The Chasin study showed what you might expect. Musician have a greater ability to hear small tiny intricate sounds compared to non musicians. Musicians as you would expect have a greater understanding of the intricacies of sound and structure. When tested with Oticon Opn hearing aids musicians noted an increased clarity and understanding of the sound they were hearing. If you think about it. They always understood it but it went away with their hearing loss. As soon as we brought it back with the Oticon Opn hearing aids there was a distinct difference and understanding of what the right sound should be.
The trial clients who were musicians and had hearing problems that took part in the study, proved even more attuned to the listening improvements from Oticon Opn than people who did not play music or class themselves as musicians, musicians reported more considerable results.
That make sense right? If your jobs main function is your ears you need the best equipment to make you hear better. So if musicians comment they love the Oticon Opn hearing aid for clarity and conversation then of course us mere mortals will experience the benefit as well.
The Chasin report tells us that we can tell our patients that even though they may have struggled previously with their hearing aids especially during their occupation that this does not need to be the case.
Musical and finely tuned ears require capable hearing aids.
The evidence has to be empirical so lets look at an interview Oticon carried out with Janine Roebuck an opera singer with progressive nerve damage to her inner ears.
Janine was fitted with Oticon Opn 1 hearing aids. Her audiologist then conducted a music test with a set of speakers. Here are Janine’s words –
“When my audiologist tested me for music, I got terribly emotional because I had not heard the clarity of music that Oticon Opn allowed me to hear for years and years and years. It had just become a cacophony of sound, yet there I was hearing all the individual instruments again far more clearly than I had done for such a long time.”
Another great thing about Oticon is they are based in Hamilton South Lanarkshire. Arguably the best hearing aid manufacturer in the world chooses to be based locally. They employ over 300 people in Lanarkshire. As a local and family business this is also important to us.
Steven Ross (MSHAA, RHAD)
58 Cadzow Street,