By Suzanne Levy
This article is a part of the July/August 2021, Volume 33, Number 4, Audiology Today issue.
A landmark paper was recently published about Earlens, a device intended to provide audible, suprathreshold amplification from 125–10,000 Hz to patients with mild-to-severe sensorineural hearing impairment by directly vibrating the ossicles–enabling high-gain margins without feedback and low-frequency output without occluding the canal.
This blinded study from a collaboration with Susan Scollie’s National Centre of Audiology at Western University in Ontario looked at the suprathreshold benefits to participants fit with Earlens on a battery of speech outcome measures, comparing audible bandwidth limited to 5 kHz (commonly seen with conventional acoustic technology) versus the full audible bandwidth to 10 kHz.
All outcome measures were statistically significantly improved with the Earlens extended bandwidth: consonant recognition, plural detection, and speech understanding in competing speech. Blinded subjective ratings also showed preference for the extended bandwidth condition (Folkeard et al, 2021).
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Folkeard P, Van Eeckhoutte M, Levy S, et al. (2021) Detection, speech, recognition, loudness, and preference outcomes with a direct drive hearing aid effects of bandwidth. Trends Hear 25: 233121652199913.