Monthly Archives: April 2021

The Benefits of OpenSound Navigator in Children with Hearing Loss

Fitting children with advanced sound processing algorithms in their hearing devices is not always straightforward. Does the clinical evidence support it? Will it provide more access to all sounds, promote incidental learning, and improve speech understanding in challenging environments? These questions are frequently considered, and a conservative approach is often taken. Whereas, when fitting adults, there is typically clinical evidence to support advanced sound processing and they are better at reporting sound quality issues, so audiologists are more likely to take a less conservative fitting approach. However, if we take too much of a conventional approach with children, are we missing an opportunity to provide improvements in sound quality, hearing in noise, and reduced listening effort?

In 2019, OpenSound NavigatorTM was incorporated into the Ponto 4 sound processor. The success of this sound processing strategy had been seen in Oticon hearing aids with many research studies documenting the benefits provided to patients. So, what is unique about OpenSound Navigator that might provide optimal benefit for children with hearing loss?

OpenSound Navigator is a groundbreaking speech enhancement algorithm that preserves speech and reduces noise in complex sound environments. OpenSound Navigator operates as a holistic system that handles all sound environments from the quietest to the noisiest, by selectively reducing the dominant noise sources while preserving speech in all directions. OpenSound Navigator adapts seamlessly without modes or mode switches. Utilizing an omnidirectional beam that captures a 360° sound panorama of the environment along with a back-facing cardioid that estimates noise from the sides and back provides users with a natural sound experience.

Research has been conducted in children using OpenSound Navigator. Browning et al, 2019 demonstrated OpenSound Navigator improves speech recognition in noise for children. In fact, with speech to the front and noise from behind, OpenSound Navigator provided an average 5 dB SNR improvement as compared to an omnidirectional microphone. Elaine Ng, 2017 further demonstrated that OpenSound Navigator reduces perceived listening effort during a speech recognition task. This benefit is particularly important because hearing loss imposes increased fatigue and effort as experienced by children. Oticon Medical’s BrainHearing™ technology is designed to support the unique day-to-day challenges and developmental needs of children. Together with hearing technology prescribed according to best practice, OpenSound Navigator delivers an optimized speech signal and hence provides these children with the optimal conditions to listen and learn.

Based on the supporting research, we recommend the fitting of OpenSound Navigator in a child’s Ponto™ 4 sound processor starting at one year of age. From ages one to four years, we suggest OpenSound Navigator is active with the transition set to low, and then as the child ages to four years and older, the transition can be adjusted to medium or high similar to adult recommendations. These are the default pediatric settings incorporated into Genie Medical (2019) fitting software. To summarize, unlike conventional directionality and noise reduction technology, OpenSound Navigator does not require children to look directly at the talker the whole time to enjoy better speech understanding in noise. Young listeners may move around freely and can still experience the benefits of OpenSound Navigator.

Another important feature of OpenSound Navigator is that it preserves interfering speech coming from different directions. This new technology allows access to other talkers in the environment, which is fundamental to incidental learning for school-age children.

The groundbreaking technology of OpenSound Navigator marks a breakthrough in the development of speech enhancement systems. It is not only designed to improve acoustics at the child’s ears, but also to facilitate the brain’s own processing. It does not isolate the front talker but preserves access to all talkers. Its accurate and fast spatially informed noise estimator allows the Balance module to selectively attenuate noise sources at given locations. The Noise Removal module removes the remaining noise even between words. OpenSound Navigator opens many possibilities for new pediatric users.

To learn more about the clinical evidence supporting OpenSound Navigator in children we encourage you to register for our upcoming training on April 21, 2021 or reach out to your regional clinical specialist.

About the Author

Carissa Moeggenberg is an audiologist who has worked in the hearing healthcare field for the past 28 years. She is presently the Training Manager for Oticon Medical.

 

References:

Jenna M. Browning, Emily Buss, Mary Flaherty, Tim Vallier, and Lori J. Leibolda American Journal of Audiology Vol. 28, 101–113, March 2019

Elaine Ng, E. 2017. Benefits of OpenSound Navigator in children. Oticon Whitepaper.

Genie Medical (2019) Fitting Software

 

Welcome to the Presidential Perspective

We are launching a new column from the president of Oticon Medical North America, John Sparacio. Each month, John will share his perspectives on the hearing healthcare industry, insights into the future of implantable hearing devices, and provide guidance on how audiology practices and clinics can thrive. 

Hearing Healthcare in the New Normal

Moving Beyond Surviving to Thriving

The new normal. Bet you’re as sick of seeing that term in every news article, think piece, and social media pontification as I am. Unfortunately for us, it is the reality we are facing. Life, and the hearing healthcare industry as a whole, will simply not go back to what we used to call “normal” anytime soon—if ever.

So, what can we do about it from a business standpoint? I’ve been racking my brain over that for some time now, and while I’d like to say I came up with the answer, I am pretty sure there isn’t one, at least not a one-size-fits-all, capital A answer. However, what I did come up with is a way we can better navigate these uncharted waters—by sharing our experiences, including what has worked, what hasn’t, and what we believe will help our industry not only survive, but thrive. I will be sharing my experience and perspective monthly, and I hope you will stop by and not only give it a read but share your own thoughts and experiences in the comments.

Personally, I’ll admit this past year has been a doozy. I barely had time to settle in as the president of Oticon Medical North America when the challenge of guiding our business through the Covid-19 crisis landed in my lap like a ticking bomb. We had all just returned from a highly successful international sales meeting in Cancun, and our future outlook was as bright and sunny as that beautiful location.

Then… bam! Less than a month later, the coronavirus was identified, and the entire world began shutting down. I told our office staff they would be working at home for a couple of weeks (ha, I know), and then everything just… stopped. Our customers couldn’t open their offices, our sales team couldn’t travel, our events couldn’t be held, product launches were delayed… It was one door after another slamming shut. And with each one that closed, my fears for the future of our company and of our customers’ businesses grew.

So, what has gotten us through the darkest days of this crisis? Adaptation is top of my list. Worldwide, our leadership teams used robust scenario planning exercises to confront the challenges posed by the pandemic head-on. We maximized our communications infrastructure so that we could conduct meetings and events online. We provided our employees with the equipment required to work from home with as much ease and efficiency as possible. We supplied our field staff with the PPE needed to remain safe while still supporting our clinician and surgical customers.

In short, we adapted. And like any organism facing down a threat, our adaptation meant we survived. In fact, I’ll tiptoe out on a limb and go so far as to say we are thriving. Sure, sales could be better—that’s always true regardless of a worldwide pandemic! But in the course of adapting, we discovered smarter, more efficient ways to conduct business. These lessons will not be discarded once whatever passes for normalcy takes hold, but rather be used to make us an even stronger, more efficient leader in hearing device manufacturing. Which in turn will make us an even better partner to our hearing care professional customers reopening their businesses and relaunching their important services to patients, many of whom have had to postpone getting vital hearing care and are now eager for assistance.

So, back to the new normal. What is that going to look like when it comes to bone-anchored hearing devices and other hearing products and services? Well, some of the changes we’ve already seen, such as the increase in telehealth options, will be sticking around. As for whatever other changes and advancements are coming? I can only speak for my corner of the hearing industry, but there are indeed exciting innovations on the horizon in technology, product, and service offerings. I eagerly look forward to sharing them with you as we all move forward—together.

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Only certain staff members are allowed into our Somerset US headquarters right now—essential workers. Who decides who is essential? Me. I found it weird carrying around a letter from me declaring myself an essential worker, so I simply bought the T-shirt.