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Digital Hearing Aids for Children

Christine Jones, Liz Brassine, AuD

October 14, 2002

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Question

Why should I consider DIGITAL hearing aids for children with severe to profound hearing loss?

Answer

There are several advantages to fitting digital hearing instruments to children with severe to profound hearing loss.

The first is giving the child multiple solutions for hearing in noise. Digital hearing instruments typically incorporate noise-reduction systems that reduce steady state noise from the response of the instrument. This feature has been shown to reduce listening fatigue in difficult listening environments.

Another advantage of many digital systems is equalized directional microphones. Traditional directional microphones reduce low frequency information, which is fine for patients with lesser degrees of hearing loss. However, individuals with severe to profound hearing loss frequently cannot afford to comfortably sacrifice low frequency gain. Power digital aids can automatically build that gain back into the response of the instrument in the noise reduction program.

While directional microphones can offer significant advantages in background noise, FM is the ultimate solution in very difficult listening environments. Some digital power aids incorporate FM into the hearing instrument options as well as programmability of the FM response. Since individuals with severe to profound hearing loss generally prefer the FM signal over the standard hearing aid circuit, this flexibility is a key component to success in school and other difficult listening environments.

Another advantage of digital technology is the application of output shaping. Studies have shown that children use intensity cues even more than adults to discriminate phonemes. By shaping the output across each channel in a multiple channel digital instrument, one can maintain most intensity cues of speech and, therefore, maximize residual hearing.

Other benefits of digital instruments may include multiple programs, multiple signal processing schemes within the instrument to provide the potential of audibility for soft sounds, and more precise match to targets.

Christine Jones, M.S.

Christine Jones is the pediatric trainer at Phonak. Christine received her masters degree in audiology from Vanderbilt University. Previously, she worked at a children's hospital performing diagnostic testing and fitting amplification primarily on infants and children.


Elizabeth Brassine, M.A.

Liz Brassine is the manager of education for Phonak US. She is responsible for product training for customers and all employee education. She received her masters in Audiology from Northwestern University and is currently working on her Au.D. Prior to joining Phonak 6 years ago, she worked in a private practice setting.


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christine jones

Christine Jones

National Manager of Pediatrics, Phonak US


Liz Brassine, AuD

Education Manager

Liz Brassine, Au.D., is the Manager of Customer Education and Field Support at Phonak Hearing Systems.  She has worked for Phonak since 1996.  She is primarily responsible for customer training of hearing instrument technology and has spoken at many national and state meetings on Hearing in Noise and high-tech hearing instruments. Previous to this, she held positions as a clinical and dispensing audiologist.  She holds an M.A. in Audiology from Northwestern University and an Au.D. from Arizona School of Health Sciences.
Liz Brassine is employed by Phonak


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