Before I get started with this month’s topic, I need to once again strongly encourage you to wear your hearing protection when using power tools, tractors, lawn equipment, going to the races or a music concert. In addition, do NOT wear your earbuds to listen to music without any type of noise reduction when mowing your lawn.  You may think I am stating the obvious, but I am repeatedly amazed how many times I discuss the importance of hearing protection with a patient, and they admit not thinking about the long-term ramifications of not protecting one’s ears…hearing loss, tinnitus, social isolation, depression, and cognitive decline. So please, please, please protect your ears, you only have two and when you lose your hearing, it does not come back.

I have talked to you in the past about the changes we have made in our evaluation process.  Our 2-hour Functional Hearing Assessment (FHA) has resulted in a much better understanding of the entire processing of sound from ear to brain.  The ear is responsible for detecting sound.  The traditional beep-beep tone test does not tell us anything about how the brain processes the sound the ears send up the auditory pathway.

The Functional Hearing Assessment incorporates a comprehensive case history to establish objective measures and goals that are re-evaluated 45-60 days into the hearing treatment plan.  Everyone’s reason for coming to see us varies and what is important is unique to that individual.  We also look at tolerance to background noise issues and the ability to understand in the presence of background noise. A cognitive screening gives us information about memory, processing speed, reaction time and executive function ability which are all important skills when communicating in difficult listening environments.

As part of a hearing treatment plan, it is our responsibility to select the best set of devices for the person who has chosen us to be their hearing healthcare provider.  Different hearing aids do different things.  From all the information we gather, we select at least two different sets of devices to evaluate.   We program the devices and run real ear measurements to ensure we are meeting the prescriptive targets needed for maximum audible.  We evaluate the two sets of devices in the hearing booth by repeating the speech in noise test to see which one enables the patient to understand better.  We are hoping to increase scores, but, more importantly reduce listening effort when completing the task while increasing motivation to stay engaged in the conversation and increase confidence while communicating.

I must say this process has been amazing.  I may think a patient will do better with one manufacturer; sometimes I am right, but sometimes not.  We are taking the time on the front end to make the entire hearing treatment process more precise, efficient and effective.  Where else in town have you seen or heard of this type of thorough process being completed? You can’t get this from an online purchase, in a big box location or a retail hearing aid location that only sells one hearing aid.  Our patients are happier, more successful with treatment, hearing better and communicate better with their family and friends.  We are thrilled to have made this change to provide the best care possible.

If you would like to schedule a Functional Hearing Assessment, give Jamie or Diane a call at 704-633-0023.  Visit our website for more information: www.hearingsolutionsofnc.com.  Remember to like us on Facebook.  Jane, Cheryl and I look forward to seeing you soon.