Children with Hearing Loss May Experience Higher Rate of Bullying
Chalfont hearing centre can help with all types of hearing loss.
New UT Dallas research indicates that children and adolescents with hearing loss experience higher rates of peer victimization, or bullying, than children with typical hearing, UT Dallas announced in a press release on its website.
In the study, approximately 50% of the adolescents with hearing loss said they were picked on in at least one way in the past year. Previous studies show about 28% of adolescents in the general population report being bullied.
“I thought more children and adolescents with hearing loss would report getting picked on, but I did not expect the rates to be twice as high as the general population,” said Dr Andrea Warner-Czyz, an assistant professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences and a researcher at the Callier Center for Communication Disorders.
The study, which appears in the journal Exceptional Children, showed the type of bullying experienced by youth and adolescents with hearing loss mimics patterns in children with other special needs, with significantly higher rates of social exclusion.
More than one-fourth of adolescents with hearing loss indicated they felt left out of social activities, compared to only 5% of the general population reporting exclusion. These findings parallel published reports of fewer invitations to social events, lower quantity and quality of friendships, and higher loneliness in children and adolescents with hearing loss.
Researchers conducted an online survey of 87 children and adolescents ages 7 to 18 who wear cochlear implants or hearing aids for hearing loss. If they indicated they were picked on at all, the survey automatically generated follow-up questions on how often it occurred and why they thought they were targeted.
Approximately 45% said they did not know why, 20% said it was because of their hearing loss or cochlear implant, and 20% said it was because of how they looked or how they acted.
Based on information provided by parents and from other studies, Warner-Czyz said the problems with peers might reflect communication difficulties related to auditory skills.
“Sometimes they miss puns or a play on words, or other cues that have to do with humor. Or when something is said very quietly or in a noisy location, the student with hearing loss might miss it. And that can make them feel like an outcast, or it can make them look like an outcast,” she said.
“Friendships are important to most young people, but I believe are especially important for children with hearing loss.”
said Warner-Czyz. Alternatively, she said peer problems might indicate a broader issue of not recognizing social cues from conversation or distinguishing true friendship from acquaintances.
Researchers have previously said having at least one good friend is a protective factor against bullying. Most children in this study cited several or lots of friends, but anecdotal reports from parents and clinicians questioned the veracity of these friendships.
“Friendships are important to most young people, but I believe they are especially important for children with hearing loss,” said Warner-Czyz. “Anything parents can do to facilitate social interaction and friendship and letting them learn how to be a friend and who is a friend is critical.”
She said future research will delve more deeply into the reasons behind differences in friendship quality and peer victimization in children and adolescents with hearing loss to guide evidence-based, targeted therapeutic intervention and potentially contribute to effective anti-bullying programs geared toward children with special needs. She said these factors might go beyond individual youth characteristics to include a microsystem of school and home settings.
The research is part of a larger study exploring the quality of life in children and adolescents with cochlear implants.
Original Paper: Warner-Czyz AD, Loy B, Pourchot H, White T, Cokely E. Effect of hearing loss on peer victimization in school-age children. Exceptional Children. 2018;84(3):280-297.
Source: UT Dallas, Exceptional Children
Image: UT Dallas
New Hearing Devices in Development May Expand Range of Human Hearing
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University are developing atomically thin ‘drumheads’ able to receive and transmit signals across a radio frequency range far greater than what we can hear with the human ear, the University announced in a press release.
But the drumhead is tens of trillions times (10 followed by 13 zeros) smaller in volume and 100,000 times thinner than the human eardrum.
It’s been said that the advances will likely contribute to making the next generation of ultralow-power communications and sensory devices smaller and with greater detection and tuning ranges.
“Sensing and communication are key to a connected world,” said Philip Feng, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science and corresponding author on a paper about the work published March 30 in the journal Science Advances. “In recent decades, we have been connected with highly miniaturized devices and systems, and we have been pursuing ever-shrinking sizes for those devices.”
The challenge with miniaturization: Also achieving a broader dynamic range of detection, for small signals, such as sound, vibration, and radio waves.
“In the end, we need transducers that can handle signals without losing or compromising information at both the ‘signal ceiling’ (the highest level of an undistorted signal) and the ‘noise floor’ (the lowest detectable level),” Feng said.
While this work was not geared toward specific devices currently on the market, researchers said, it was focused on measurements, limits, and scaling which would be important for essentially all transducers.
Those transducers may be developed over the next decade, but for now, Feng and his team have already demonstrated the capability of their key components—the atomic layer drumheads or resonators—at the smallest scale yet.
The work represents the highest reported dynamic range for vibrating transducers of their type. To date, that range had only been attained by much larger transducers operating at much lower frequencies—like the human eardrum, for example.
“What we’ve done here is to show that some ultimately miniaturized, atomically thin electromechanical drumhead resonators can offer remarkably broad dynamic range, up to ~110dB, at radio frequencies (RF) up to over 120MHz,” Feng said. “These dynamic ranges at RF are comparable to the broad dynamic range of human hearing capability in the audio bands.”
New dynamic standard
Feng said the key to all sensory systems, from naturally occurring sensory functions in animals to sophisticated devices in engineering, is that desired dynamic range.
Dynamic range is the ratio between the signal ceiling over the noise floor and is usually measured in decibels (dB).
Human eardrums normally have dynamic range of about 60 to 100dB in the range of 10Hz to 10kHz, and our hearing quickly decreases outside this frequency range. Other animals, such as the common house cat or beluga whale, can have comparable or even wider dynamic ranges in higher frequency bands.
The vibrating nanoscale drumheads developed by Feng and his team are made of atomic layers of semiconductor crystals (single-, bi-, tri-, and four-layer MoS2 flakes, with thickness of 0.7, 1.4, 2.1, and 2.8 nanometers), with diameters only about 1 micron.
They construct them by exfoliating individual atomic layers from the bulk semiconductor crystal and using a combination of nanofabrication and micromanipulation techniques to suspend the atomic layers over microcavities predefined on a silicon wafer, and then making electrical contacts to the devices.
Further, these atomically thin RF resonators being tested at Case Western Reserve show excellent frequency ‘tunability,’ meaning their tones can be manipulated by stretching the drumhead membranes using electrostatic forces, similar to the sound tuning in much larger musical instruments in an orchestra, Feng said.
The study also reveals that these incredibly small drumheads only need picoWatt (pW, 10^-12 Watt) up to nanoWatt (nW, 10^-9 Watt) level of RF power to sustain their high frequency oscillations.
“Not only having surprisingly large dynamic range with such tiny volume and mass, they are also energy-efficient and very ‘quiet’ devices,” Feng said. “We ‘listen’ to them very carefully and ‘talk’ to them very gently.”
The paper’s co-authors were: Jaesung Lee, a Case Western Reserve post-doctoral research associate; Max Zenghui Wang, a former research associate now at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China (UESTC), Chengdu, China; Keliang He, a former graduate student in physics, now a senior engineer at Nvidia; Rui Yang, a former graduate student and now a post-doctoral scholar at Stanford University; and Jie Shan, a former physics professor at Case Western Reserve now at Cornell University.
The work has been financially supported by the National Academy of Engineering Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering Award (Grant: FOE 2013-005) and the National Science Foundation CAREER Award (Grant: ECCS-1454570).
Original Paper: Lee J, Wang Z, He K, Yang R, Shan J, Feng PX-L. Electrically tunable single- and few-layer MoS2nanoelectromechanical systems with broad dynamic range. Science Advances. 2018;4(3):eaao6653.
Source: Case Western Reserve University, Science Advances
City, University of London to Pilot Language and Reading Intervention for Children
Researchers from City, University of London have been awarded £97k ($USD approximately $136,479) from the Nuffield Foundation to pilot a language and reading intervention with 120 children in their first year of formal education, the school announced on its website.
Involving Dr Ros Herman, Professor Penny Roy, and Dr Fiona Kyle from the School of Health Science’s Division of Language and Communication Science, in collaboration with Professor Charles Hulme from Oxford University, the study—which is reportedly the first reading intervention study to include both deaf and hearing children—will trial the new intervention in primary schools for a year and compare outcomes with other schools that offer the standard literacy teaching.
The research team have shown in previous research that many severely and profoundly deaf children have significant reading delays, yet are typically excluded from reading intervention research.
In this new study, teachers will be trained to deliver the intervention program, comprising systematic phonics teaching alongside a structured vocabulary program, during the school literacy hour. The study will investigate whether all children, or only specific groups of children, benefit from the integrated program and whether a full-scale evaluation is merited.
Dr Herman said, “Our previous research has revealed the scale of reading difficulties among deaf children. Our findings suggest that deaf children will benefit from specialist literacy interventions such as those currently offered to hearing children with dyslexia. In addition, deaf children and many hearing children require ongoing support to develop the language skills that underlie literacy.
“As a result we hope our new study, which will pilot a combined language and reading intervention, will address these issues so that teachers can provide the vital support needed to prevent both hearing and deaf children from unnecessarily falling behind their peers.”
Source: City, University of London
Which hearing aids are best for me?
You’ve been diagnosed with hearing loss and the hearing healthcare professional says you’ll benefit from wearing hearing aids, but which devices are best for you? The decision you make will depend greatly on the severity of your hearing loss as well as your health and the lifestyle you lead. Before you sit down to discuss options with your hearing healthcare provider, here are a few things to consider.
Are you a technology buff?
Hearing aids have changed a lot in the last ten years. Today’s devices are nothing like those your parents or grandparents may have worn, mainly because of advances in technology. While your parents’ hearing aids had to be adjusted with a tiny screwdriver by a hearing care provider, today’s digital devices are programmed via computer. Gone are the days of fiddling around with bulky volume control wheels and buttons. Most of today’s devices can be controlled discreetly by the wearer with smartphone apps as listening environments change. Bluetooth technology allows hearing aids to connect wirelessly to that smartphone you bought the moment it became available, tablets, televisions or car audio.
How much of a techie are you? Chances are, there’s a hearing aid that can keep up with your fascination for cutting edge gadgets. If you’re not a technology lover, don’t despair – the technology in your new hearing aids can also work behind the scenes automatically so you can just focus on hearing your best.
Is your world noisy?
Let’s face it — life can be loud! Depending upon what you do for a living and how often you’re socially engaged with people you love spending time with, directional microphone technology can help you make sense of that noise. Dual microphones in the hearing aid work to help you understand speech in challenging listening environments such as noisy conventions, crowded restaurants and bars or a family room filled with chattering children by focusing on the sound directly in front of you and minimizing sound to the sides and back.
Nearly all hearing aids today have some form of noise reduction built in. This technology is best for increasing your comfort in noisy situations, but it’s the directional microphones that have a noticeable impact on your ability to understand conversation in these same situations. Be honest about your lifestyle and talk with your hearing care provider about which features you need.
Are you self-conscious about your hearing loss?
Let’s be clear: there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wearing hearing aids — no matter whether they’re visible to others standing close to you or fit snugly out of sight inside your ear canal. These miracle devices not only help you hear your favorite sounds, they also alert you to emergency warning signals and decrease your risk of falling, developing dementia and feeling depressed. What’s not to love?
Unfortunately, some prefer to be more discreet about their hearing loss. For those individuals, tiny receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) or receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) styles with ultra-thin tubing and an availability of colors which blend with skin or hair may be desirable. For even more invisibility, invisible-in-the-canal (IIC) or completely-in-the-canal (CIC) styles may be an option.
The discretion of small hearing aids can come with some tradeoffs. Your hearing healthcare professional can help you decide, given the severity of your hearing loss and your personal preferences, which style is best for you.
Do you have dexterity issues?
Diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and other health conditions can cause numbness in the fingers or a decline in fine motor skills. The smaller the hearing aid, the smaller the features — such as the battery door or volume control. If you struggle with putting on jewelry or activities which require fine motor skills, you will likely benefit from wearing hearing aids that fit behind-the-ear (BTE) or a larger custom style. It’s much better to own devices you can operate confidently and effectively than one which frustrates you so much it spends more time in your nightstand than in your ear.
It’s important to remember that no two people or their hearing losses are alike, but there are hearing aids to suit most every need. The best hearing aids are the ones that work for you. Instead of waiting to make a decision because you’re afraid you’ll make the wrong one, find a hearing healthcare professional to guide you. Working as a team, the two of you can determine which devices will work for your unique hearing situation.
Visual Cues May Help Amplify Sound, University College London Researchers Find
Looking at someone’s lips is good for listening in noisy environments because it helps our brains amplify the sounds we’re hearing in time with what we’re seeing, finds a new University College London (UCL)-led study, the school announced on its website.
The researchers say their findings, published in Neuron, could be relevant to people with hearing aids or cochlear implants, as they tend to struggle hearing conversations in noisy places like a pub or restaurant.
The researchers found that visual information is integrated with auditory information at an earlier, more basic level than previously believed, independent of any conscious or attention-driven processes. When information from the eyes and ears is temporally coherent, the auditory cortex —the part of the brain responsible for interpreting what we hear—boosts the relevant sounds that tie in with what we’re looking at.
“While the auditory cortex is focused on processing sounds, roughly a quarter of its neurons respond to light—we helped discover that a decade ago, and we’ve been trying to figure out why that’s the case ever since,” said the study’s lead author, Dr Jennifer Bizley, UCL Ear Institute.
In a 2015 study, she and her team found that people can pick apart two different sounds more easily if the one they’re trying to focus on happens in time with a visual cue. For this latest study, the researchers presented the same auditory and visual stimuli to ferrets while recording their neural activity. When one of the auditory streams changed in amplitude in conjunction with changes in luminance of the visual stimulus, more of the neurons in the auditory cortex reacted to that sound.
“Looking at someone when they’re speaking doesn’t just help us hear because of our ability to recognize lip movements—we’ve shown it’s beneficial at a lower level than that, as the timing of the movements aligned with the timing of the sounds tells our auditory neurons which sounds to represent more strongly. If you’re trying to pick someone’s voice out of background noise, that could be really helpful,” said Bizley.
The researchers say their findings could help develop training strategies for people with hearing loss, as they have had early success in helping people tap into their brain’s ability to link up sound and sight. The findings could also help hearing aid and cochlear implant manufacturers develop smarter ways to amplify sound by linking it to the person’s gaze direction.
The paper adds to evidence that people who are having trouble hearing should get their eyes tested as well.
The study was led by Bizley and PhD student Huriye Atilgan, UCL Ear Institute, alongside researchers from UCL, the University of Rochester, and the University of Washington, and was funded by Wellcome, the Royal Society; the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC); Action on Hearing Loss; the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Hearing Health Foundation.
Original Paper: Atilgan H, Town SM, Wood KC, et al. Integration of visual information in auditory cortex promotes auditory scene analysis through multisensory binding. Neuron. 2018;97(3)[February]:640–655.e4. doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2017.12.03
Source: University College London, Neuron
ADM Tronics Unlimited, Inc (OTCQB: ADMT), a technology-based developer and manufacturer of innovative technologies, has authorized its subsidiary, Aurex International Corporation (“AIC”) to begin advertising its new hearing protection product, Tinnitus Shield™ in Tinnitus Today, the official publication of the American Tinnitus Association, ADM announced.
Tinnitus Shield™ has been designed to protect against damaging sounds shown to cause tinnitus for individuals at risk of acquiring this condition, according to the company’s announcement. These include military, police, musicians, construction workers, and many other occupations subject to Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL).
The US Veterans Health Administration (VA) reports that tinnitus is the most prevalent combat-related disability affecting veterans, making it a high-priority healthcare issue facing the military and the VA.
While Tinnitus Shield™ has been specifically engineered to protect against the sounds which may cause tinnitus, AIC also plans to bring to market Aurex-3®, a patented, non-invasive therapy technology for the treatment and control of tinnitus.
Heading up AIC is CEO Mark Brenner, BSc, PhD, who draws upon years of experience serving the tinnitus market in the United Kingdom. Brenner brings with him the vision and resources necessary to set in motion the launching and distribution of Aurex-3 throughout the US and Europe. For these reasons, the company believes that under Brenner’s leadership and guidance, both AIC technologies can effectively penetrate this burgeoning market.
“The potential market for effective technologies that addresses the tinnitus marketplace is significant, considering the millions and millions of sufferers in the US and worldwide,” said Andre’ DiMino, president of ADMT.
Brenner commented, “AIC is now able to offer the full spectrum of support to the worldwide tinnitus community with its Tinnitus Shield, providing protection from noise-induced tinnitus, and the Aurex-3, as an active treatment and management system for those who have developed tinnitus. This is receiving great interest in the UK where we are actively working with The Tinnitus Clinic, a group of specialist tinnitus clinics. In the US we have active discussions with the American Tinnitus Association.”
Source: ADM Tronics Limited
GN Store Nord Develops Device to Protect Soldiers’ Hearing
The global market for military communication systems is estimated to be about $630 million, and features competitors such as Peltor (3M), INVISIO, Silynx, Racal Acoustics, and MSA Sordin, according to long-time hearing industry analyst Niels Granholm-Leth of Carnegie Investment Bank in Copenhagen. GN has embarked on several projects in its GN Stratcom organization, which is currently part of GN Hearing, although the company could eventually establish it as a stand-alone division alongside its Hearing (ReSound, Beltone, and Interton) and Headset divisions (Jabra).
The new patented hearing protection solution is designed specifically for defense and security forces. GN says the solution offers the user a communication headset which is designed to be comfortable, highly durable, and protects the user against high volume noise. At the same time, by leveraging GN’s expertise within situational awareness, the solution allows its user to clearly identify important sound in 360°.
“The GN Group encompasses consumer, professional, and medical grade hearing technology under the same roof,” says CEO of GN Hearing, Anders Hedegaard. “This unique platform makes it possible to expand GN’s business into adjacent opportunities within the sound space. With our user-centric approach we aim to be the leader in intelligent audio solutions to transform lives through the power of sound.”
GN will be starting to build a small, swift group related to this new business opportunity. This year, GN will participate in military tenders in the United States and with other NATO-countries. The new product line will, under the name GN FalCom, include:
- Comfort. Designed for optimal physical comfort allowing for multiple hours of use in extreme combat situations;
- Clarity. Enables users to localize sounds all around them without the need to remove the earpiece. To maintain high quality communications at all times, GN FalCom will integrate seamlessly with military radio technology, and
- Protection. Allows users to stay connected while benefitting from noise protection. For example, users will experience the highest level of safety without blocking out wanted sounds.
The hearing protection solution builds on GN’s expertise in sound processing from both GN Hearing and GN Audio—and across R&D teams in the United States and Denmark. It is a successful result of corporate level investments made through GN’s Strategy Committee guided initiatives to explore opportunities outside of, but related to, GN’s existing business areas. According to the company, the hearing protection solution will be manufactured at GN’s existing production facilities in Bloomington, Minn, and will not impact GN’s financial guidance for 2018.
With the Oticon Opn, users can expend less effort and recall more of what they encounter in a variety of complex listening environments. This open sound environment, powered by Oticon’s Velox platform, allows for greater speech comprehension, even in a challenging audiological setting with multiple speakers. With its OpenSound Navigator scanning the background 100 times per second, the Opn provides a clear and accurate sound experience.
Eargo Max is designed with an all-new chip set and operating system as well as “Flexi Domes,” that are designed to help decrease feedback and increase gain while preserving speech clarity, according to Eargo.
Each hearing aid also comes with sound profile memory and voice indicators that are designed to make Eargo Max even easier to use than its predecessor.
“We asked our customers, ‘How can we make Eargo even better?’ With their help we developed Eargo Max, the best invisible hearing aid on the planet,” said Christian Gormsen, Eargo’s CEO. “We’re proud of our latest creation but not spending any time patting ourselves on the back. There’s too much to do and we’re just getting started.”
Eargo provides support to clients transitioning to their hearing aids with the help of a team of licensed personal hearing guides. The company is backed by a group of investors (including NEA, The Nan Fung Group, Maveron, and Charles and Helen Schwab) who continue to invest their time, money, and resources into helping Eargo fulfill its mission.
Eargo Max Pricing & Availability
Eargo Max is available for purchase online at eargo.com or by phone at 1-800-61-EARGO. The Eargo hearing system is regularly priced at $2,500 but currently available for a limited time at the introductory price of $2,250. Financing is available for as low as $104 a month. Each purchase of an Eargo hearing aid comes with a 45-day money back guarantee, one-year warranty, and ongoing support by Eargo’s licensed hearing professionals. Eargo Max is only available in the United States.
In October 2010 a Which? investigation revealed serious problems at ‘shops’ selling hearing aids to the public. In an undercover inquiry they sent researchers with hearing loss to branches of the biggest five high street companies, plus some independent shops. They found some ‘shops’ failed to ask basic medical questions or properly carry out hearing tests, and missed potentially serious problems. The report detailed below explains the shortcomings found across the industry.