Monthly Archives: March 2019

Learning Faster: Why It Matters

In our previous blog post, we discussed BrainHearing™ — the term we at Oticon Medical use when referring to how the vital elements of hearing (processing and comprehension) occur in the brain. We also reviewed the evidence showing how our Ponto™ system supports sound processing that enables wearers to learn faster[1], remember more[2], and experience less listening effort[3]. In this post we’re going to delve deeper into how our bone-anchored hearing system (BAHS) helps wearers, especially children, learn faster and why that is important to their development.

The study and its results summed up

To review, Professor Andrea Pittman studied 17 preteen children, 16 of whom have conductive hearing loss and one with single-sided deafness (SSD) The children wore two Ponto Power at a time: one optimally fitted on a softband and one on an abutment. The children had to learn six new words and Dr. Pittman counted the number of repetitions it took to do so. The children performed the learning task twice (with different words), where only one sound processor was activated at a time in a randomized, single-blind manner (i.e., the subjects didn’t know which sound processor was active).

While the kids required approximately 166 trials to learn the words when wearing their Pontos affixed by softbands, they only needed 60 trials when wearing the devices attached to abutments — a 2.5 times increase in learning speed.

Faster learning supports better education and social development

When it comes to education and social development, language acquisition plays a significant role. To learn how to speak, read, and write on pace with their hearing peers, hard-of-hearing children need the best available assistance to improve their hearing ability as early in their lives as possible.

Babies and toddlers initially acquire language by hearing their parents speak. Their linguistic comprehension increases exponentially as they grow and interact more with other adults and peers especially once they start school. During the critical school age years, kids who cannot hear clearly often struggle to increase their vocabulary because it is hard to process and understand spoken language[4].

Consider this: even children with perfect hearing have difficulty paying attention in school. They often are expected to absorb lessons while straining to hear over background chatter, sitting far away from the teacher, and poor classroom acoustics. Now imagine trying to learn despite all this and having a significant hearing loss. It’s no surprise hard-of-hearing children[5] often return home from school feeling frustrated, exhausted, and overwhelmed.

Difficulty to learn at the same rate as others can also lead to youngsters falling behind or even in being held back a grade[6]. For kids who may already feel isolated by their hearing loss, this further separation from same-age peers can significantly impede their social development.

With all this in mind, it’s no surprise that many of these children develop a negative attitude toward school. Many doubt their own learning capabilities and struggle to fit in socially. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Helping kids with hearing loss succeed

By utilizing a Ponto as early in life as possible, your child can experience the regular stimulation of incoming sound needed to help the brain as much as possible. When worn implanted on an abutment, this powerful BAHS may help keep children learning at a rate closer to that of their natural hearing peers.

Are you ready to try a Ponto for the first time or upgrade to our latest Ponto 3 model? Click below to get in touch with an audiologist in your area who can help you choose the best option for you or your child’s hearing needs.

Learn More

[1] Pittman, A. L. (2019) Bone conduction amplification in children: Stimulation via a percutaneous abutment vs. a transcutaneous softband. Ear Hear.
[2] Lunner, T., Rudner, M., Rosenbom, T., Ågren, J., and Ng, E.H.N. (2016) Using Speech Recall in Hearing Aid Fitting and Outcome Evaluation Under Ecological Test Conditions. Ear Hear 37 Suppl 1: 145S-154S.
[3] Bianchi, F., Wendt, D., Wassard, C., Maas, P., Lunner, T., Rosenbom, T., and Holmberg, M. (2019) Benefit of higher maximum force output on listening effort in bone-anchored hearing system users: a pupillometry study. Ear Hear.
[4] Committee on the Evaluation of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Disability Program for Children with Speech Disorders and Language Disorders; Board on the Health of Select Populations; Board on Children, Youth, and Families; Institute of Medicine; Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education; National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Rosenbaum S, Simon P, editors. Speech and Language Disorders in Children: Implications for the Social Security Administration’s Supplemental Security Income Program. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2016 Apr 6. 2, Childhood Speech and Language Disorders in the General U.S. Population. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK356270/
[5] Colquitt JL, Jones J, Harris P, et al. Bone-Anchored Hearing Aids (BAHAs) for People who are Bilaterally Deaf: A Systematic Review and Economic Evaluation. Southampton (UK): NIHR Journals Library; 2011 Jul. (Health Technology Assessment, No. 15.26.) 1, Aim and background. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK99649/
[6] Cooke, Gary, & Stammer, John. (1985). Grade retention and social promotion. CHILDHOOD EDUCATION, 61 (4), 302-308. EJ 315 804

Ponto helps wearers! Learn faster. Remember more. Reduce listening effort.

By now you’re likely familiar with BrainHearing™, our guiding principal when it comes to developing our hearing systems. Simply put, it is an acknowledgement that the most vital hearing processes, including speech comprehension and understanding, occurs in the brain, not ears. Therefore, effective hearing systems need to make it as easy as possible for your brain to make sense of incoming sounds, not just pick up and amplify them. Our Ponto™ bone-anchored hearing systems (BAHS) support better sound processing that enables wearers to learn faster[1], remember more[2], and expend less listening effort[3] — and we have the evidence to prove it.

Learn faster with Ponto

Principal investigator Professor Andrea Pittman of Arizona State University studied 17 preteen children, 16 of whom had conductive hearing loss and one with single-sided deafness (SSD). She initially tested the children with the Ponto Power fitted on softbands. Prof. Pittman had the children listen to and learn six new made-up words and assessed the number of repetitions required before each child learned the words. Then she repeated the test, only this time with the Ponto Power affixed to the children’s abutments. The results were significant — it took the children approximately 166 trials to learn the words when sounds were transmitted through the skin via the softband yet only 60 trials when sounds were transmitted directly through the attached devices. That’s an impressive 2.5 times increase in learning speed!  

Ponto helps wearers remember more

Professor Thomas Lunner worked with Oticon Medical at the Ericksholm Research Center in Denmark to assess how Ponto aids in improving memory. Participants in the study included 16 adults in their late fifties with conductive or mixed hearing loss. Again, the subjects were first tested wearing their Pontos on softbands only. Their assigned task was to recall seven words after listening to sentences including each word individually. The results showed the subjects remembered the words at a rate of approximately 46 percent. However, when they wore their Pontos on their abutments and were tested again, that number rose to a significant 52 percent. This means wearers experienced a 13 percent relative improvement in ability to recall with direct sound transmission vs. skin transmission — likely because fewer mental resources were needed to process the signal, and so more can be devoted to memory.  

Reduce listening effort with Ponto 3 SuperPower

The principal investigator in this study was Oticon Medical, working out of our Global headquarters in Denmark. Participants consisted of 21 adults in their late 50s with conductive or mixed hearing loss. They were tested using three different processors with different maximum outputs: Ponto Pro, Ponto 3, and Ponto 3 SuperPower. Participants were tasked with listening to and repeating sentences heard through background noise, while an eye-tracking camera monitored their pupil dilation, an established measurement of listening effort wherein the pupil dilates in direct relation to the amount of listening effort expended. Our researchers compared the performance of the subjects using each device and noted a sizeable decrease in listening effort and retention with use of the Ponto 3 SuperPower as indicated by reduced pupil dilation as compared to the Ponto Pro and the regular Ponto 3. This supports the idea that higher power hearing systems allows wearers to comprehend speech with significantly less effort.  

What it all means to you

The evidence is in that direct sound transmission through a Ponto system with a higher maximum output offers far more than the ability to hear better. When worn implanted on an abutment, these powerful BAHS let you learn 2.5 times faster — especially important for school-age wearers. They improve ability to remember by 13 percent, which offers an advantage to older wearers who might have memory concerns in general. And they require wearers to expend less listening effort to keep up with conversations, reducing the fatigue associated with difficulty straining to hear and understand speech daily. Ready to try your first Ponto BAHS or upgrade to our latest Ponto 3 model? Click below to get in touch with an audiologist in your area who can help you choose the best option for your hearing needs.

Learn More

 

[1] Pittman, A. L. (2019) Bone conduction amplification in children: Stimulation via a percutaneous abutment vs. a transcutaneous softband. Ear Hear. 
[2] Lunner, T., Rudner, M., Rosenbom, T., Ågren, J., and Ng, E.H.N. (2016) Using Speech Recall in Hearing Aid Fitting and Outcome Evaluation Under Ecological Test Conditions. Ear Hear 37 Suppl 1: 145S-154S.
[3]  Bianchi, F., Wendt, D., Wassard, C., Maas, P., Lunner, T., Rosenbom, T., and Holmberg, M. (2019) Benefit of higher maximum force output on listening effort in bone-anchored hearing system users: a pupillometry study. Ear Hear.