30 September 2004

Improved hearing tests

Hearing impaired people can look forward to better hearing tests which will optimise the benefits from hearing aids. A British research project is designed to develop the new higher precision tests.

The three-year project aims to improve the fitting of hearing aids by developing more accurate ways of measuring hearing loss at different frequencies.

Hearing does not generally deteriorate evenly across all frequencies and a hearing aid should, therefore, provide more amplification in the affected frequencies. However, in some people, the damage to the sensory hair cells of the inner ear is so extensive that sounds at affected frequencies cannot be heard even when highly amplified - so called 'dead' hearing regions.

Precise diagnosis of dead regions is difficult and however carefully hearing aids may be fitted, many people find they are of limited help.

Therefore, the project aims to devise a set of signals which it is hoped can be incorporated into standard testing procedures to enable more accurate diagnosis of patterns of hearing loss.

An estimated 270,000 people in the UK alone stand to benefit from this research, which is being carried out at the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge.

"We hope that the combination of more accurate testing with new generation hearing aids should improve speech comprehension for people with dead regions of hearing", said Professor Brian Moore, who is the leader of the project.

The project was announced by Britain's research charity for deaf and hard of hearing people, Defeating Deafness. The Freemason's Grand Charity funds the research with GBP50,000.

Source: Press release, 7th June 2004, Defeating Deafness.

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