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Xceed Play

In addition to the Opn™ Play, Oticon’s line of pediatric hearing aids also includes the Xceed Play. Known as the “world’s most powerful pediatric hearing aid,” the Xceed is designed specifically for children with severe-to-profound hearing loss in mind.

Benefits

The goal of the Xceed Play is to preserve and enhance your child’s acoustic environment and help them learn through listening. It accomplishes this through access to 360-degree sound and speech, using — like the Opn Play — Oticon’s self developed BrainHearing™ technology. This technology helps preserve “the important details in speech, so your brain doesn’t have to strain to fill in the gaps.”

Why is this important? Being able to hear the world and distinguish speech and valuable information from noise is crucial for your brain’s development. The more your child can hear, the more your child can grow.

The Xceed also has tech included to help prevent interfering whistling sounds* and can easily connect to accessories and apps, improving the aids’s sound and signal.

Extras

The Xceed is similar to the Play in customization and durability. Though there aren’t as many behind-the-ear styles, your child can still pick from a variety of fun colors. And parents and caregivers can be sure of tamper-resistant battery doors, strong materials, and an LED indicator to help “monitor hearing aid & battery status.”

Check out our Tech Spotlight — all about Oticon’s line of pediatric hearing aids — for more info.

* “Groundbreaking technology in Oticon Xceed Play helps prevent feedback from happening so that your child can enjoy a clearer, stable speech signal*, and receive up to 20% more speech details,** which are essential to language development.”

Pediatric Hearing Aids

The Oticon Opn™ Play hearing device is a pediatric hearing aid specifically designed to help your child optimize incidental learning and truly process sound in a 360-degree environment.

Benefits

Incidental learning is the big perk. Acoustics being what they are, valuable sound and information is not often directed to the listener, which can make it difficult for hard-of-hearing children to pick up on certain things. Sound environments help us grow, and a child’s spatial/hearing awareness is a crucial part of their developmental process.

From the Oticon website: “With Opn Play, there’s finally a cutting-edge hearing aid that allows your child to learn, grow, play and thrive. Open up their world, let them play, laugh along with friends, let them dream about the future. Just like any other child.”

Technology

With its Velox™ chip, the Opn Play boasts superior signal-to-noise processing, helping speech comprehension in noisy areas such as schoolyards or classrooms. As said above, being able to separate what you want to hear from its surrounding background is a beneficial skill for children to have.

The aids are also sturdy, “designed to stand up to the test of childhood.” The battery doors are childproof, the aids allergen-free, and each device has an LED light to “give caregivers and teachers visual confirmation that the battery is functioning properly.”

Extras

Each Oticon Opn play comes in a fun variety of kid-friendly styles and colors. Depending on how your children want to express themselves, these aids can be subtle and unobtrusive or colorful and stylish.

For additional schoolroom help, the pediatric Opn aids can be paired with ConnectClip, Amigo FM, and Oticon ON app systems.

For more information on pediatric hearing aids, visit this month’s technology spotlight over on the REM website.

Optimizing Classroom Acoustics

Classroom acoustics are a crucial part of a child’s education experience and development. If the arrangement of chairs or the layout of the room impedes the natural flow of sound, then the amount of information heard and retained can be affected. This is especially true for your hard-of-hearing students.

REM has written about this before. In that blog, we covered everything from proper layout to national standards and recommendations. In this blog, we want to focus on the specifics of classroom setups.

Chair Positions

The single greatest thing you can do to help improve acoustics is properly position your students’ seats.

The closer a child sits to the teacher, the louder the speech signal will be, and the more they’ll be able to hear. Students who sit in the back of the classroom may have a harder time listening, participating, and learning. A half circle might be the best configuration for desks, allowing the teacher to project at an equal distance from everybody. If this isn’t possible, talking and walking (roaming the aisles) might be the way to go, with desks placed at inward, center-facing angles.

For hard-of-hearing students, a wireless FM system or Roger™ Pen might provide the best benefit, allowing hearing aids to pick up any transmitted speech.

Classroom Materials

  1. If the ground is uncarpeted, consider adding soft materials (such as felt or cork board) on the walls to help with unnecessary reverberation.
  2. Rubber stoppers or tennis balls on chair and table legs can reduce ambient scratches or squeaks.
  3. Hanging curtains over the windows — if allowed to do so — might help keep some of the noise at an acceptable, even level.

Ambient Noise

Everything from your overhead lights, to air conditioning or heating units, to outside traffic, can add a layer of unwanted noise. Though these might be harder to control, be sure to turn off any equipment you’re not using, and (if possible) replace or move anything broken or portable. Always remember, too, to regularly ask your students if they’re having any trouble hearing you speak.

Learn More

Classroom Acoustics are an important part of your children’s education. Please see the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) for more information on what you can do to optimize your learning environment.

Wine – Chocolate – Hearing Loss

Did you know that (a moderate amount of) wine and chocolate can help your hearing? It sounds far-fetched, but according to some researchers, it’s true. Red wine and dark chocolate may help prevent inflammation that causes — in part — noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).

Inflammation damages your sensory perception. If you get sick or have an ear infection, the blood vessels in your ear canal can weaken, and your circulation can slow. Your natural defenses can be compromised, allowing exposure to loud or constant noise to cause more harm.

If wine and chocolate could help prevent this trauma, it would certainly be welcome news. But for all their supposed benefits, keep in mind neither is a miracle food. You shouldn’t trust them to protect you from external noise, and overindulging in either may, in fact, cause active harm. Excessive alcohol, especially, has been shown to hurt both your brain and — as a consequence — your hearing.

REM has written about food’s relationship with hearing before. In that blog, we focused on the correlation between cholesterol and hearing health. We concluded that the healthier the body, the healthier the hearing. The connection between chocolate and wine and protection from NIHL may be a bit more tenuous, but a little bit of either certainly won’t hurt. They might even help.

At the very least, they’ll taste good.

Family Hearing Loss

Living with hearing loss can be a challenge for anyone, but if your household has one or more individuals with hearing difficulty, day-to-day conversation and interaction can sometimes feel insurmountable. So it’s important to know your options.

Hearing aid technology has advanced greatly over the years, and devices are now at the point (depending on the severity of your loss) where speech in noise can be more easily understood, where you don’t have to shout to get the other person’s attention. If you don’t have hearing aids, you might find yourself turning the TV up too loud, getting easily frustrated trying to talk to your family members, or having your family members get frustrated themselves.

Hearing aids are important. They will help. There may still be difficulties, yes, but with the right device, and the right programming, you can find your family’s conversation equilibrium. This is true for homes with single or multiple wearers of hearing aids.

Assistive listening devices — used in conjunction with your aids — can make things even easier. Hypersound, for instance, is an amplification technology that uses directional speakers to focus the sound of your entertainment system. Most aids, such as the Oticon Opn™, also have Bluetooth® technology that allows certain devices to stream directly to your aids. As the technology around us grows, so does our ability to pair them with each another. Hearing aids are no exception.

With conversation and entertainment options covered, what else is there?

There will always be challenges, despite all the solutions available. Be honest and up-front with your loved ones. Let them know what you’re feeling, what you find frustrating, and ask them to tell you the same. If you and others suffer from hearing loss at the same time, not being transparent can compound communication issues. Hearing issues can be hard enough; there’s no need to make them harder.

Be sure to also talk to your audiologist. They may even be able to help counsel you and your family on how to more easily converse and understand one another at home.

National Audiology Awareness Month

October is National Audiology Awareness Month. What does that mean? What can you do? How can you help spread awareness?

Do a Google search, and you’ll find half a dozen calls to action from a variety of different hearing education resources. The American Academy of Audiology, for example, asks hearing professionals to take charge locally and dedicate time during October 1-5 (“Public Awareness Week”) to “rally with your colleagues,” while Cochlear Americas seeks stories from the experts, hoping to inspire and teach.

Healthy Hearing, on the other hand, lays out the facts for the non-professional. They highlight the importance of not only hearing tests, but the importance of audiology assessments:

“Audiologists have a valuable and varied role in treating the hearing health of people of all ages, from the very young to the very old. They not only perform hearing evaluations and fit hearing aids, but also treat noise induced hearing loss, ear infections, trauma and damage to inner ear and eardrum due to illness or ototoxic medications.”

In line with Healthy Hearing, the NIDCD has a dedicated website to help inform the consumer, especially concerning adolescent hearing loss. This is a great resource for parents and teachers.

Finally, REM has some tips for how you can help with National Audiology Awareness Month:

  1. Spread the news about hearing loss prevention, which is a big part of any audiologist’s job.
  2. Find your favorite resources. In addition to the websites listed above, REM’s own blog — covering a variety of topics over the course of several years — might prove helpful.
  3. Encourage ear protection when exposed to loud noises.
  4. Get an app that monitors noise levels in the world around you.
  5. Realize that everyone over 55 deserves a hearing assessment*.

There’s lots you can do to help this coming October!

*The purpose of this hearing assessment and/or demonstration is for hearing wellness to determine if the patient(s) may benefit from using hearing aids. Products demonstrated may differ from products sold. Test conclusion may not be a medical diagnosis. The use of any hearing aid may not fully restore normal hearing and does not prevent future hearing loss. Testing is to evaluate your hearing wellness, which may include selling and fitting hearing aids. Hearing instruments may not meet the needs of all hearing-impaired individuals.

Back to School with Hearing Loss

Summer is winding down and school is peeking out over the horizon. If you have hearing loss or communication difficulties, what can you do to prepare? Who can you talk to?

1. Talk to your child. Be transparent. If your child has hearing or language issues, reassure any anxieties they may have. Share as much info as you can about any assistive listening devices or speech therapy classes currently in place to help them learn and stay on course with their fellow students.

2. Get informed! See what services your school offers, and see what else could be offered. Talk to local audiologists and speech pathologists, maybe do some research online. Possibly, you can even give your local school board some ideas.

3. Be aware of your school’s IEPs (Individualized Education Programs) and 504 plans. These can offer “formal help for K-12 students with learning and attention issues.”

4. If your child has hearing loss, allow them to try unfamiliar things. Allow them to achieve and stumble. Ellie Parfitt, who is deaf, writes on the Hearing Like Me blog: “One thing that my parents have learned from having a deaf child, is that you should encourage them to make their own decisions, choose subjects they would like to study and make sure you encourage them to try new things.” This is good advice for anyone.

For more information, check out one of our blogs from last summer. Here, you’ll be able to find info about specific devices and ideas concerning your child’s educational development.

What Services Do Audiologists Offer?

Deciding to get your hearing tested is a big move for a lot of people. Whether it’s at the urging of a primary care physician or something you decide to pursue yourself, choosing an audiologist often comes with a whole list of unknowns. You may find yourself asking what an audiologist does and what services they’ll provide during the course of your visits. Maybe you’re wondering if you even need to see one in the first place (if you’re having difficulty hearing then probably, yes).

After the decision to meet, you’ll first be given a medical history form. You may also be asked to fill out questionnaires regarding balance and tinnitus. Medication and its potential implications on balance and hearing problems will also be discussed.

After the history? The hearing test. For more information about what to expect from a hearing evaluation, please check out our recent blog.

Once the test is complete, you’ll sit down with the audiologist for the consultation, often based on your COSI (client oriented scale of improvement) — your personal improvement benchmarks. Discussing your results, you and your audiologist will go over personalized communication problems, word recognition tests (comparing hearing speech in noise with hearing aids vs. no aids), and customized treatment recommendations.

If the audiologist decides you’ll need a hearing aid, this is when you’ll begin to talk about specific models. You’ll discuss what you want out of your hearing aid experience, whether you’d like to interface with Bluetooth® technology, and how often you plan to use your aids out in social settings.

After you choose your aid, the audiologist will then monitor the device’s results using real ear measurements. He or she will want to be sure the aid is working to its specifications and your needs. You’ll often meet for follow-up appointments at regular intervals, usually every 6 to 12 months, for maintenance and cleanings.

Other services audiologists often provide are:

  1. Earwax removal
  2. Auditory processing testing (if you have problems comprehending speech even though there is no indication of peripheral hearing loss)
  3. Balance testing or referral for balance consultation

Audiologists are also there to help with your tinnitus needs and can offer advice for any hearing-related questions you may have.

What Is It Like To Experience Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss has a sound.

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to have hearing loss, you’re not alone. You might even be interested to know about the many hearing loss simulators that can be found online. Experiencing what its like to struggle with speech in noise can be a powerful tool, and these simulators offer some first hand experience.

The Starkey simulator, in particular, is an eye opener. If you have headphones handy, plug them in and select what degree of loss you want to hear in which sound environment.

You can find other audible examples at the NDCS and Hear-the-world.com.

What It’s Like to Hear With Hearing Loss

Mild hearing loss might be one of the most underreported medical issues today. It can be easy to ignore. Many convince themselves that a slight hearing struggle is not worth going in for a checkup, or that it couldn’t possibly get worse.

So what does mild hearing loss sound like?

Though no two instances of hearing loss are the same, if you have mild hearing loss, “the most difficult sounds of speech – consonant sounds like ‘f’ and ‘th’ or ‘k’ and ‘p’ – can be lost during a conversation.” One on one, mild hearing loss might not pose any major difficulties, but in a noisy area or crowded room, even a small hearing deficit can prove challenging. Those with mild to moderate hearing loss also have more trouble understanding softer or higher pitched speech.

Severe hearing loss, on the other hand, is a problem no matter what environment you find yourself in. A severe hearing loss prevents the individual from hearing conversational speech. Audibility is negatively impacted and without audibility there is not comprehension.

Mild hearing loss impacts understanding, severe or profound hearing loss (without the use of hearing devices) limits it completely.

What It’s like to Live With Hearing Loss

Experiencing the sounds of hearing loss is one thing. Living with it is another. People with normal hearing or even mild difficulty can approximate what it’s like to hear with major hearing loss, but as Shari Eberts writes for the Living with Hearing Loss Blog, it’s “hard to explain to others what it is like…

It’s hard because of the “the lack of clarity in speech, the sensitivity to loud noise, and the exhaustion that comes with heavy bursts of communication. It is an invisible disability, so it is often misunderstood, downplayed or even ignored – sometimes even by those closest to you.”

All Hearing Loss is not Equal

As we wrote before, hearing loss does not manifest in identical ways. Depending on the person, severity, type and cause, a hearing difficulty will never be the same in any 2 people.

For more descriptive examples of types of hearing loss sound, please check out the Hearing Link website or Hear-it.org.

The Future of Hearing Aid Batteries

Hearing technology is changing all the time. Compared to devices as recent as 10 years ago, aids today are significantly advanced in both capability and performance.

The progress of hearing aid batteries tells a similar story.

Hearing Aid Batteries

For years, batteries have been a chief concern among hearing aid users. They’re not only the part of the hearing device the users will interact with the most, but the device’s success also depends upon their reliability.

If you wear a hearing aid, you’re familiar with its flat and circular shape. You’re also probably aware that all disposable batteries on the market are mercury-free, you should look for the 1.45 volt option, and the specific battery you need corresponds to what hearing aid you use. If you didn’t know or need a refresher, please check out our previous battery-tip blog.

Disposable hearing aid batteries have been pretty consistent over the years.

Advancements in Battery Technology

The most noticeable progress on the hearing aid battery front is probably rechargeable technology. One example, and one we at REM like a lot, is the Phonak Audeo B-R. With the B-R, you don’t have to handle batteries at all. Just put the aids in the dock and let them charge overnight. These rechargeable hearing aids – which use lithium ion batteries – should last at full capacity for 4 to 6 years (with nightly charging).

Oticon Opn™ rechargeable hearing aids (such as the MiniRTE) also use a device docking system to recharge. Oticon’s reusable batteries last about a year, and will then have to be replaced. The advantage of this system is flexibility. Opn rechargeable aids also take disposable batteries, so if you forget to bring your charger on a trip, you can temporarily pop in a disposable.

Another advantage to the Oticon rechargeable option, says Larry Gabin, Au.D., of REM Audiology, is that “people with arthritis like the Oticon recharging station because of a magnet in the base that helps attach the hearing aid to the unit for easier docking.”

Many other hearing aid brands offer rechargeable options, though usually only for their newer models. If interested, you’ll often have to purchase a brand-specific rechargeable pack. This pack will provide both the materials to replace your aid’s battery door and also the docking station that will then fit your device.

Why Rechargeable?

According to The Hearing Review, “battery life in hearing aids is getting shorter as the features to enhance listening experiences are added to new hearing aids, and a battery that used to last a few weeks now lasts only a few days.” Most disposable batteries, on the other hand, last a year. If you decide to go the rechargeable route, you’ll be saving yourself from buying, changing, losing, and throwing away hundreds of batteries.

Some believe rechargeable batteries are the future of hearing aids. If you have device-specific (or general) questions, we are here to be of service to you.