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Children with Dyslexia Can Benefit From Hearing Assistance

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FM Devices May Improve Reading Skills.

Warrenville, IL (September 26, 2012) – For children with dyslexia, FM systems not only allow them to hear better while the device is in use, but it can also mean long-term improvement in phonological awareness and reading skills – even beyond the use of the device, according to a recent study published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“With the FM approach, the teacher wears a microphone and the student wears a behind-the-ear FM receiver, which effectively pipes the teacher’s voice into the ear, which allows a child to be more focused,” explains Nina Kraus, Principal Investigator of The Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University and the study’s co-author. “When we measured the brain’s response to speech sounds, the kids who wore the device responded more consistently to the very soft and rapidly changing elements of sounds that help distinguish one consonant from another (cat, bat, pat etc.). That improved stability was linked with reading improvement based on standardized measures of readability – which, as a long-term benefit, points to brain plasticity and makes this study incredibly exciting.” 

The study, partially funded by a Phonak grant, was conducted by Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University, was spearheaded by Kraus and her colleagues, who sought to understand the relationship between listening devices and dyslexia in children.

They worked with 38 children between the ages of eight and 14 all attending a school for children with reading problems.  Half of the children did not wear devices and served as the control group.  The other 19 students wore an assistive listening device throughout each school day for the entire academic school year.  The ear-level FM receivers used in this study were Phonak EduLink products. (The products used were precursors to Phonak iSense)

“Improving a child’s auditory processing of sound in this way gives children a better chance to make associations between what they hear and what these sounds mean. Then they can connect that information to what they see on paper,” added Kraus.

About Phonak

Headquartered near Zurich, Switzerland, Phonak, a member of Sonova Group, has developed, produced and globally distributed state-of-the-art hearing systems and wireless devices for more than 60 years. The combination of expertise in hearing technology, mastery in acoustics and strong cooperation with hearing care professionals allows Phonak to significantly improve people’s hearing ability and speech understanding and therefore their quality of life.

Phonak offers a complete range of digital hearing instruments, along with complementary wireless communication systems. With a worldwide presence, Phonak drives innovation and sets new industry benchmarks regarding miniaturization and performance.

For more information visit www.phonak.com or the Phonak Expo Page.

About iSense

iSense receivers are aimed at those who experience speech comprehension problems, particularly in noisy environments.  iSense provides excellent sound quality, is extremely user-friendly, and automatically adjusts the volume in noisy environments, thus ensuring optimum hearing performance and unparalleled user comfort.

Two different iSense receivers are available:

iSense Micro

This receiver resembles a tiny Bluetooth headset. It features small and stylish behind-the-ear housing that is light and comfortable to wear. The system is available in various colors to suit different users’ tastes. iSense Micro is fully automatic and tamperproof.

Its miniaturized, high-tech design makes iSense Micro the ideal product for customers seeking a discreet and trendy solution.

iSense Classic

Designed to resemble an MP3 player, this small, thin system is worn on the body and equipped with cables and receivers for both ears. This sturdy product features a volume control and indicator light.

iSense Classic can be worn in one of two ways: lavalier style (around the neck), or in the pocket, MP3-player style. A thin cable brings the signal to the listener’s ears.

About Nina Kraus

Nina Kraus PhD is Professor of Neurobiology & Physiology, Otolaryngology and Hugh Knowles Chair at Northwestern University. She investigates the neurobiology underlying speech and music perception and learning-associated brain plasticity. She studies normal listeners throughout the lifespan, clinical populations (poor-readers; autism; hearing loss), auditory experts (musicians, bilinguals) and an animal model. In addition to being a pioneering thinker who bridges multiple disciplines (aging, development, literacy, music, and learning).  Dr. Kraus is a technological innovator who roots her research in translational science.

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