Sept 2020 PR Newswire
Cochlear Limited (ASX: COH), the global leader in implantable hearing solutions, is encouraging adults with hearing loss to utilize the Cochlear Hearing Aid Check, a new, free online tool that launches broadly this Healthy Aging Month. The tool allows adults with hearing aids who are struggling to hear to learn if they may benefit from a cochlear implant. The tool aims to help participants, particularly in the aging adult population, compare their hearing performance with hearing aids to people with a cochlear implant, and depending on their results, to seek further hearing healthcare advice to treat their loss.
In the United States, one out of three people over the age of 65 and one out of two people over 75 are affected by disabling hearing loss, but only 5 percent of people who could benefit from cochlear implant hearing technology have them. Research continues to show aging adults with untreated hearing loss can be substantially affected by social isolation and loneliness with impacts to brain health and quality of life.
Once hearing loss becomes severe to profound, cochlear implants are the only U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved medical solution to effectively treat the loss at that point. Research shows that moving from a hearing aid to a cochlear implant significantly improves hearing ability in noise, including doubling speech understanding. However, many adult cochlear implant candidates are not appropriately diagnosed, referred and treated. From the initial pilot of the Hearing Aid Check, 93 percent of those who interacted with the Check were over 50 years of age; 81 percent have been diagnosed with hearing loss for over six years; and 85 percent failed the Check, meaning in their hearing aids they performed below or well below the performance of someone with a cochlear implant.
"We know there is a significant population of adults who are not getting access to or educated about the benefits of cochlear implant technology. Having the appropriate hearing solution can enable a person to hear speech clearly, which helps keep the brain active and mind sharp so they can continue to live a full, independent life," said Nada Hanna, AuD, CCC-A, Lead Clinical Audiologist, Cochlear Implant Specialist, ENT Associates. "If you do not pass the Hearing Aid Check, there is substantial value in scheduling an appointment with a cochlear implant audiologist to find out if cochlear implants could help you get back to hearing."
The Hearing Aid Check was developed by an independent Australian research body, National Acoustic Laboratories (NAL), in partnership with Cochlear. NAL identified a need for language-independent tests to assess a person's ability to discriminate similar speech sounds. It consists of a minimum of 28 speech sound sets (phonemes - not beeps or words), and up to 81 sound sets presented in background noise. Two sounds are identical, one is different; the participant needs to select the sound they believe is different.
The Check is self-administered and simple to complete for adults 18 and over with hearing loss in both ears who wear hearing aid(s). Participants should find a quiet place and allow 10-15 minutes to complete the Hearing Aid Check at their own pace on a personal computer, tablet or mobile device. Upon completion, participants receive a results summary and recommendations for next steps by email, which can include making an appointment with an audiologist who is qualified on a range of hearing options, such as cochlear implants or more powerful hearing aids.
"The Hearing Aid Check is a first-of-its-kind tool to give adult hearing aid users a baseline assessment of their hearing and provide recommendations to see if cochlear implants could help them hear better than hearing aids alone," said Patricia Trautwein, MA, AuD, Vice President, Product Management & Marketing, Cochlear Americas. "As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to underscore the value of at-home health tools like Hearing Aid Check, hearing health clinics are open and safely serving patients during this time too. Hearing health should continue to be prioritized, especially if a hearing loss is detected, because we know that hearing and connections continue to be essential during this pandemic and beyond."
Cochlear implants are a proven treatment option for those with moderate to profound hearing loss who no longer receive benefit from hearing aids. Cochlear implants have been approved by the FDA for nearly 40 years and are covered by Medicare, most insurance plans and typically Medicaid.