Real-Ear Measurements and Verification
At Coates Hearing Clinic, P.A., our audiologists perform real-ear measurements (REM) and verification during a patient’s hearing aid fitting appointment. REM is done to ensure the patient is receiving the highest level of service in terms of his/her communication needs. As the standard of care in this practice, during the hearing aid fitting appointment, your audiologist may use a hearing aid analyzer or probe microphone measurements to ensure your hearing aid is operating appropriately for you.
In the past, hearing evaluations and fittings for hearing aids consisted mostly of a series of beeps and noises. Today, audiologists are equipped with new technologies and methods to make the hearing evaluation process and hearing aid programming process more effective.
Live Speech Mapping
One of the more advanced technologies available is live speech mapping, a method of fitting for hearing aids using speech as a stimulus to help the specialist adjust hearing aids to the right settings for each wearer. Live speech mapping makes fitting appointments more interactive and can reduce the number of office visits required for successful hearing aid programming.
Live speech mapping is a truly wonderful new technology for audiologists, hearing specialists, hearing-impaired individuals, and their families. Live speech mapping is a hearing aid verification method that is used to ensure that your hearing aids are programmed for your individual needs. With this method, small microphones placed in the ear canal are used to measure the response of the hearing aid in your ear taking into account the natural and individual characteristics of both your ear and your hearing loss.
For your live speech mapping appointment, you will be asked to bring along a family member or close friend to act as the “gauge” in your ability to hear live voices.
In the past, hearing evaluations and fittings for hearing aids consisted mostly of a series of beeps and noises. Today, hearing specialists are equipped with new technologies and methods to make the hearing evaluation process and hearing aid programming process more effective.
Our clinic has high-tech equipment that will allow Dr. Coates to “see” what you are hearing through your hearing aids on a screen in real-time. The results may also be displayed on a wall-mounted screen so that you can also see the adjustments and participate in the process. This allows both you and your family members to visualize and understand the differences that hearing aids can make in your hearing ability.
Benefits Of Live Speech Mapping
Live speech mapping is known for its accuracy. Without speech mapping verification, other methods to program your hearing aid may require additional adjustments. Live speech mapping increases the chances that your hearing aid programming will be done correctly on the first try.
Live speech mapping also creates a much more positive fitting experience by allowing both you and your family to see the immediate results of your hearing aids and their positive impact on your ability to hear. Both you and your family will be engaged in the fitting process, making it a joint affair.
If you have hearing loss, you may not be able to understand fully what you can and cannot hear, and therefore, you may not understand everything you are missing. With speech mapping, you will have the ability to hear the improvements immediately, and you will be shown exactly what you can and cannot hear in real-time.
Other additional benefits of live speech mapping include:
- Focuses on the important and basic function of being able to hear human speech effectively.
- Engages both you and your family in the fitting process.
- Provides immediate and tangible results.
- Increases successful outcomes of fittings.
- Increases your confidence and comfort in using your new hearing aids.
- Provides more accurate programming of hearing aids.
- Reduces the number of return visits.
Primary Objective of a Hearing Aid Fitting
The primary objective of a traditional hearing aid fitting is to ensure that appropriate aided acoustic information (e.g., desired output across frequencies at different input levels) is being delivered to the tympanic membrane of the wearer in order to maximize the potential benefit of amplification. The use of a probe-microphone or real-ear measurement (REM) system is the only way to confirm the appropriateness of hearing aid gain and resulting output across frequencies for a range of input levels at the tympanic membrane.
Since hearing devices do not perform the same way for everyone, this verification process is necessary in order to meet your specific communication needs. The purpose of verification, therefore, is twofold:
- To collect objective information about the sound that the hearing instrument is producing in the ear canal of the individual client instead of relying on estimations of the performance of the hearing instrument in an average person’s ear.
- To provide more personalized details and accuracy giving your audiologist the information needed to adjust the hearing instrument for the best benefit.
Quick-FIt vs. REM
Some audiology practices rely on manufacturers’ first-fit or Quick-Fit algorithms to provide appropriate aided gain and output, however, they don’t provide adequate audibility (sound quality to the user) resulting in reduced speech understanding in background noise. Preferably, as confirmed in recent studies, researchers found that Real-Ear Measurements ensure appropriate levels of audibility, improve hearing aid adopting rates, and provide appropriate aided gain and output per each patient’s prescription without deviation. The study findings also showed increased audibility resulting in increased speech understanding in background noise.
Furthermore, the researchers concluded that the provision of REMs positively improved patient psychology towards the practitioner, the standard of care provided by the profession, and self-perceived benefit towards the hearing aid through increased confidence with the product.
Hearing aid verification, as well as validation, are part of best practices guidelines from both the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Verification is an objective measure to determine if the hearing instruments meet a particular standard and are performing as expected. In running a probe-microphone measure, we are checking to see if we matched a prescription gain target–this is verification. Validation comes from patients directly where they acknowledge whether or not the hearing instruments have met their goals.