Digital Hearing Aids for Children
There are several advantages to fitting digital hearing instruments to children with severe to profound hearing loss.
The first is giving the child multiple solutions for hearing in noise. Digital hearing instruments typically incorporate noise-reduction systems that reduce steady state noise from the response of the instrument. This feature has been shown to reduce listening fatigue in difficult listening environments.
Another advantage of many digital systems is equalized directional microphones. Traditional directional microphones reduce low frequency information, which is fine for patients with lesser degrees of hearing loss. However, individuals with severe to profound hearing loss frequently cannot afford to comfortably sacrifice low frequency gain. Power digital aids can automatically build that gain back into the response of the instrument in the noise reduction program.
While directional microphones can offer significant advantages in background noise, FM is the ultimate solution in very difficult listening environments. Some digital power aids incorporate FM into the hearing instrument options as well as programmability of the FM response. Since individuals with severe to profound hearing loss generally prefer the FM signal over the standard hearing aid circuit, this flexibility is a key component to success in school and other difficult listening environments.
Another advantage of digital technology is the application of output shaping. Studies have shown that children use intensity cues even more than adults to discriminate phonemes. By shaping the output across each channel in a multiple channel digital instrument, one can maintain most intensity cues of speech and, therefore, maximize residual hearing.
Other benefits of digital instruments may include multiple programs, multiple signal processing schemes within the instrument to provide the potential of audibility for soft sounds, and more precise match to targets.