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The Chalfont hearing centre is an independent hearing company based at Little Chalfont Bucks. Family owned and run by Leon Cox, Chalfont hearing centre offer the very latest in digital hearing aids, hearing accessories and ear wax removal using Micro-Suction. With the sister site in Henley-Upon-Thames we cover the whole of Buckinghamshire. You are never far from the premier hearing company of Buckinghamshire.
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Starkey Releases World’s First Hearing Aid with Fall Detection and Alerts to Livio AI Users
Starkey Hearing Technologies, Eden Prairie, Minn, has released its new Fall Detection and Alert feature in Livio AI hearing aids to a limited number of hearing professionals, and plans to offer the feature to all dispensing professionals and their clients in late February, according to CTO Achin Bhowmik, PhD, in an interview with Hearing Review on Tuesday, December 18. Using integrated sensors, the Fall Detection and Alert feature is designed to automatically detect falls and send messages to as many as three contacts.
Fall detection sensors are currently implemented in all Livio AI devices as part of its standard hardware platform, and Starkey has been working on the Fall Alert feature to maximize its utility for end users prior to the system’s widespread implementation.
Falls are a massive public health problem, particularly for older adults. It’s estimated that injuries due to falls will account for $67.7 billion in public health spending by 2020, and according to the National Council on the Aging (NCOA) falls are currently responsible for an older adult being admitted to a US emergency room every 11 seconds. Additionally, people with hearing loss are particularly susceptible to falls. A Johns Hopkins study suggests that having hearing loss triples the risk of falls for people age 40 and older—and the findings hold up regardless of whether their hearing loss is moderate or severe.
How Starkey Fall Detection and Alerts work. Starkey’s new Fall Detection system is said to have several benefits over existing stand-alone medical alert systems, which are typically attached to a lanyard around the neck. “The first key advantage is that a hearing aid is almost always in your ear during your active hours, making for one less thing to carry or remember. One of the major problems with medical alert systems is getting people to wear them,” says Bhowmik. “Second, we have two fall detection sensors [in binaural fittings] for the right side and the left side, whereas most fall detection systems have only one. And the way the two sensors are spaced apart and the way in which you hold your head, we can get better and more accurate results than neck-worn sensors designed to detect falls.”
According to Bhowmik, part of Starkey’s recent research has revolved around what constitutes an actual fall as opposed false-positives such as quick downward movements or even accidentally dropping the hearing aid. “If you take the hearing aid off your ear and drop it on the ground, you will not get a false-positive for falling with Livio AI,” says Bhowmik. “We have been working on [eliminating false-positives] for over a year. A good AI system is only as good as the data you train the system with. In this particular case, if the left hearing aid detects a fall, it immediately checks with the right hearing aid to see if the data matches what would indicate a fall for the system. Unless it detects a fall from the hearing aids in tandem for both the right and left sides of the head, the device will eliminate those non-fall events and false-positives.”
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The hearing care professional will be able to activate Fall Detection and Alerts through an easy-to-use interface within the fitting software for Starkey’s Livio AI hearing aids. The user can then enter the Auto Alert contacts—up to three people who are to be alerted in the event of a fall within the Thrive Hearing App. When a fall is detected by the system, an audio prompt asks the user if they have fallen. He or she then has 60 seconds to provide an Event Cancellation and stop the outgoing Fall Alert messages from being sent to their designated contacts. If the hearing aid user has fallen and elects to send the Fall Alert message to his/her contacts, they receive confirmation when each contact has been successfully reached.
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The system also allows for a Manual Alert which can be activated by simply pressing the hearing aid button, sending an alert for a fall or non-fall related event. “Maybe you didn’t fall, but instead just felt dizzy or were otherwise forced to sit down on the floor,” explains Bhowmik. “Obviously, this is not a fall. But you can still use the Manual Alert to get help when you need it. By tapping a button, you can send an automatic alert to your contacts, telling them you need assistance.”
This is just another step in the direction of making the hearing aid a multi-purpose, multi-functional device, according to Starkey.
To learn more about Starkey’s Livio AI you can visit: https://www.starkey.com/hearing-aids/technologies/livio-artificial-intelligence-hearing-aids
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The Chalfont hearing centre is an independent hearing specialist centre based in Chalfont Bucks. We specialise in the very latest hearing aids that will transform your life. The new 2018 digital hearing aids are a joy to use, connecting with your Iphone or most Android smart phones that are on the market today. You can really hear the benefits of the latest hearing tech, so why not book in and have a hearing test today and discuss your needs.
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Swedish University Researchers Develop New Test for Balance Disorders
Many individuals over age 65 suffer from dizziness and problems with balance; however, tests to identify the causes of such problems are often painful and can risk hearing damage. Now, researchers from Chalmers University of Technology have developed a new testing device using bone conduction technology that is said to offer “significant advantages” over current tests, the Sweden-based university announced.
A Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potentials (VEMP) test uses loud sounds to evoke a muscle reflex contraction in the neck and eye muscles, triggered by the vestibular system—the system responsible for our balance. The Chalmers researchers have now used bone-conducted sounds to achieve what they say are better results.
“We have developed a new type of vibrating device that is placed behind the ear of the patient during the test,” said Bo Håkansson, a professor in the research group ‘Biomedical signals and systems’ at Chalmers.
The vibrating device is small and compact in size, and optimized to provide an adequate sound level for triggering the reflex at frequencies as low as 250 Hz. Previously, no vibrating device has been available that was directly adapted for this type of test of the balance system.
In bone-conduction transmission, sound waves are transformed into vibrations through the skull, stimulating the cochlea within the ear, in the same way as sound waves go through the ear canal, the eardrum, and the middle ear. Håkansson has over 40 years of experience in this field and has previously developed hearing aids using this technology.
The cause of dizziness can be difficult to diagnose for several reasons. In 50% of cases, dizziness is due to problems in the vestibular system. But today’s VEMP methods have major shortcomings, and can cause hearing loss and discomfort for patients.
For example, the VEMP test uses very high sound levels, and may, in fact, cause permanent hearing damage itself, according to the university’s press release. And, if the patient already suffers from certain types of hearing loss, it may be impossible to draw any conclusions from the test. The Chalmers researchers’ new method offers significant advantages.
“Thanks to this bone conduction technology, the sound levels which patients are exposed to can be minimized,” said postdoctoral researcher Karl-Johan Fredén Jansson, who made all the measurements in the project. “The previous test was like a machine gun going off next to the ear—with this method it will be much more comfortable. The new vibrating device provides a maximum sound level of 75 decibels. The test can be performed at 40 decibels lower than today’s method using air-conducted sounds through headphones. This eliminates any risk that the test itself could cause hearing damage.”
The benefits also include safer testing for children as well as patients with impaired hearing function due to chronic ear infections or congenital malformations in the ear canal and middle ear.
The vibrating device is compatible with standardized equipment for balance diagnostics in healthcare and the cost of the new technology is estimated to be lower than the corresponding equipment used today.
A pilot study has been conducted and recently published. The next step is to conduct a larger patient study in collaboration with Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg, where 30 participants with normal hearing will also be included.
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The scientific article “VEMP using a new low-frequency bone conduction transducer” has recently been published by Dove Medical Press, in the journal Medical Devices: Evidence and Research.
Chalmers’ partners in the study are the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, and the Danish audio companies Ortofon andInteracoustics. Grants for this project are received from Vinnova (Swedish Innovations Agency) and Hörselskadades Riksförbund (Hearing Impairment Federation).
Original Paper: Håkansson B, Fredén Jansson K-J, Tengstrand T, et al. VEMP using a new low-frequency bone conduction transducer. Medical Devices: Evidence and Research. 2018;11:301-312.
Source: Chalmers University of Technology, Medical Devices: Evidence and Research
Image: Johan Bodell/Chalmers University of Technology
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