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Could Healthy Hearing Help People With Movement Disorders?

Your ears and your brain are fast friends. In fact, it seems like a new connection is reported every few months. There’s even a growing body of research showing that untreated hearing loss is linked to dementia.

That’s why we encourage annual hearing checkups. Catching changes in hearing early keeps a host of other issues at bay. And we’re just scratching the surface of what we know about the ear-brain connection.

Your ears and brain are so well connected, in fact, that one recent study in Scientific Reports is based on a link the researchers discovered on accident. It’s a link that could improve the assistive devices used by people with movement disorders or limb loss.
 

Brain-Computer Interfaces

A research team called BrainGate develops brain-computer interfaces (BCIs). These are implants that use nerve signals in the brain to manipulate assistive devices such as prosthetic limbs. Most BCI implants are put in a part of the brain that controls planning to act called the motor cortex. The BrainGate team wondered how workable it was to gather nerve signals earlier than that, though.

Could they use nerve signals from an area of the brain responsible for the simple urge to act — before the planning-to-act brain region gets involved? If so, they might be able to speed up BCI response times.
 

An Accidental Discovery

One clinical trial participant, because of a spinal cord injury, no longer had the use of his arms and legs. During a simple movement exercise that involved visual cues, his brain was monitored by fMRI. It showed activity in a certain area of this urge-to-act region of his brain.

They repeated the experiment with the BCI implant, instead of fMRI. To their surprise, the implant didn’t register activity in that same area. But while reviewing data from a related research session, they found something equally surprising. During the movement exercise, when they used verbal — not visual — cues, the implant picked up strong signals from that same urge-to-act area.
 

A Study With Only One Participant

To the BrainGate team, it seemed like this urge-to-act area didn’t care at all about visual cues, only sound-based cues. They designed a new study using the BCI implant to test their hypothesis. It had a sample size of only one — that same spinal-cord-injury participant mentioned above — and the research alternated between visual-only and sound-based-only cues.
They found that the urge-to-act area responded to sound-based cues but not to visual cues. They also found that the planning-to-act area responded to both, and had no preference either way.
The results were published in Scientific Reports in the article “Auditory cues reveal intended movement information in middle frontal gyrus neuronal ensemble activity of a person with tetraplegia.”
 

Why It Matters

The BrainGate team has some successes under their belt. People with spinal cord injury, brainstem stroke, and ALS have managed to control a computer cursor simply by thinking about the corresponding limb movement. In clinical research, they’ve managed intuitive control over advanced prosthetic limbs. Plus, people with paralysis have enjoyed easy control over powerful external devices.

By discovering that this urge-to-act area responds to sound cues, they can use it as a complement to the planning-to-act area, and BCI implants can gather movement data from two different regions of the brain. The researchers hope to one day use BCIs to enable reliable, intuitive, naturally controlled movement of paralyzed limbs.

And healthy hearing could be an important piece of this exciting puzzle.

Illustration of multiple stacks of books, some open, on a light yellow background

The Best Hearing Summer Reading/Watch/Listen List You Need

No summer’s complete without a good reading list, so we’re hooking you up.

From books to films to podcasts, we’ve put together some inspiring, entertaining, or though-provoking options that have some connection to hearing loss or sound. Take a listen, watch, or read, and let us know what you think!

  • The Way I Hear It: A Life With Hearing Loss (Book)

    Humorist, actress, public speaker, and hearing loss advocate Gael Hannan takes readers on a journey of life lessons and more in this 2015 book. Her insights offer advice and inspiration not only for those with hearing loss but for their loved ones, too.

  • Sound of Metal* (Film)

    Imagine being a musician on tour when suddenly confronted with profound hearing loss. It’s the challenge of a lifetime for heavy-metal drummer Ruben, who’s also in recovery. The deep-diving movie has garnered praise in the Deaf community and generated exciting Oscar 2021 buzz.

  • The Hear Me Out! [CC] Podcast (Podcast)

    Everyone has a story worth hearing, and host Ahmed Khalifa sees to it that you do. Whether talking deaf representation in pop culture, censorship in captions, or success at audiology appointments, Khalifa — a host with firsthand hearing loss experience — offers interviews and more in this candid series.

  • The Walking Dead* (TV series)

    You’ve probably heard of this juggernaut zombie series whose upcoming 11th season will be its last. But did you know recent seasons include two amazing actors — Angel Theory and Lauren Ridloff — who use American Sign Language on the show and have hearing loss in real life? Check it out!

  • Impossible Music (Book)

    This young-adult novel follows two Australian teens navigating deafness after having been able to hear most of their lives. The coming-of-age story about change, identity, belonging, relationships, adaptation, and resilience offers another perspective on life’s twists, turns, and blessings.

  • See What I’m Saying: The Deaf Entertainers Documentary* (Film)

    What’s it like as an entertainer with hearing loss to follow your professional dreams? This award-winning 2009 documentary offers an unflinching up-close look through the ups, downs, adventures, and triumphs of drummer Bob, comic CJ, actor and educator Robert, and singer TL.

  • My Deaf Friend Can Do Anything You Can Do (Book)

    Misconceptions and stereotypes can get in the way of building better understanding. This children’s book offers an opportunity for the whole family to explore the experiences of those with hearing loss and gain greater appreciation for what everyone brings to the table.

  • Twenty Thousand Hertz (Podcast)

    Cool title, right? This podcast is all about sound — as in, what it is, how it works, how beings can hear, and so on. It breaks down interesting topics such as synesthesia — dig into the January 13, 2021, episode to learn more — and serves up backstories on well-known sounds you might recognize.


We hope you enjoy this summer list. You might come up with a few entries of your own, too! And remember, we’re here to help you get the most out of the season by hearing your best. Schedule a hearing evaluation with our caring team today.

*Viewer discretion advised for language or visuals.

Illustration of men and women standing together, one in a wheelchair, using electronic devices

Closing the Gap: Tech Inclusivity Is Growing, and We Love It

Tech Inclusivity Is Growing, and We Love It

Every year, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) creates quite a stir with innovative new products and a window into potential trends. This year the trade show — all digital for the first time in its 54-year history — leaned even more into inclusive tech, which helps everyone participate more in life.

Why does it matter? It’s all about accessibility, which is a big part of why we’re in the hearing care business. Better hearing helps people access more of what matters in their lives. For example, it:

  • Helps keep connections to loved ones strong
  • Reduces the risk of social withdrawal or isolation
  • Goes hand in hand with better physical and mental health
  • Supports workplace success and earning power
  • Plays a role in staying safe and alert

Some of the inclusive tech at CES 2021:

  • Smartphone apps such as HeardThat, which reportedly works in tandem with hearing aids to separate speech from noise; Aware, which may help those who are blind or with low vision navigate public spaces; and Sravi, which uses video, a word bank, and artificial intelligence to interpret lip movements.
  • The Nobi fall-detection lamp, which not only can sense a fall — an especially high risk for older adults and those with hearing loss — but can also send an alert for assistance and even help prevent slips in the first place through active tracking and reminders.
  • The Mantis Q40, a QWERTY-based Bluetooth keyboard that contains a refreshable braille display and works with compatible screen readers, making it easier for people who are blind or have limited vision to participate in the classroom and other activities without needing a separate braille device.
  • The Oticon More™ hearing aid, a groundbreaking rechargeable device designed to work more like your own brain does, so it can make better use of sound, require less effort to listen, and let you remember more of what’s being said.

This dovetails with our own focus on inclusive tech, including providing solutions that combine smart innovations with customized care to help you hear your best. Today’s hearing technology even includes options such as:

  • Fall detection and alerts
  • Language translation
  • Remote adjustments
  • Wireless streaming
  • Automated geotagged settings
  • Fitness-tracking for brain and body health
  • And so much more

Technology has come a long way to help you live a more empowered life, and the innovations will only improve. Want a closer look at what today’s modern tech can do for your hearing health and access to the world around you? Don’t wait. Contact our caring team to schedule a hearing evaluation and personalized demo now!

The words NEW PRODUCT blasting through the bright blue background they're sitting on leaving a hot pink blast mark behind

Hearing Tech Roundup: 4 Gadgets We’re Giddy About

Hearing Tech Roundup: 4 Gadgets We’re Giddy About

We’re always on the lookout for ways to meet your needs even better than we already do. These days, the world of technology seems to most often fit the bill. And we’re excited about these boundary-pushing devices that provide effortless, clear connection.


ReSound ONE

“Breakthrough” and “groundbreaking” are tossed around a lot these days. Especially when talking technology. The ReSound ONE, though, earns its accolades and then some.

Today’s hearing aids help a lot. In fact, they’re amazing mini-supercomputers. But the microphones sit just outside or behind your ear — not in your ear canal — so your hearing isn’t as natural.

Until now. This one-of-a-kind hearing aid uses an extra microphone inside your ear canal. With your ear’s unique shape, it collects and funnels sound organically – as only your ear can. You hear the way you’re used to hearing.

With this technological breakthrough, only available in the ReSound ONE, you can:

  • Hear effortlessly anywhere, even in grocery stores and on windy walks
  • Stay connected no matter what on video calls with family and providers
  • Enjoy a sound ecosystem using wireless streaming accessories
  • Experience all-day power with one charge of these recharge-and-go hearing aids

Contact us to learn more about this groundbreaking organic hearing solution.


ReSound Key

ReSound Key features technology that allows your hearing aids to work together more efficiently, so you can focus on the sounds you want without losing touch with the sounds around you. And, with a full family of hearing aid models, there is a solution for virtually every lifestyle, preference, and budget.

With ReSound Key, you can also look forward to:

  • Hearing sounds clearly with less effort
  • Access to rechargeable hearing aid technology – no more tiny batteries
  • Direct streaming from compatible mobile devices
  • One easy-to-use app to individualize your sound experience
  • Optional wireless accessories to extend your hearing in any environment
  • Access to remote hearing care from the comfort and safety of your home

Whichever model you choose, ReSound always gives you a natural, individualized, and premium hearing experience, intuitively adapting to you and the environments in which you spend your time.


Oticon More

Oticon just introduced a brand-new hearing device that gives the brain more of what it needs to make better sense of sound, so you can get more out of life.

Oticon More hearing devices were developed to work more like how your brain works — they learn through experience. This is because Oticon More has the world’s first Deep Neural Network embedded in the chip.
As a result, Oticon More:

  • Delivers more sound to the brain
  • Increases speech understanding
  • Reduces listening effort so that you remember more of what is being said

With these devices, you can easily connect to your TV and catch a sporting event, show, or movie with your friends and family again. Plus, it’s powered by a rechargeable battery that lasts all day so you can talk on the phone or listen to music with confidence that your hearing device will keep up with you, even on the busiest days.


OrCam Hear

Recently OrCam, a company that develops assistive devices, showed off the OrCam Hear at CES 2021 in Las Vegas. So far they’ve focused on products for vision and dyslexia that use artificial intelligence and machine learning. Now they’ve entered the hearing space.

OrCam is a small wireless device that drapes around your neck on a string, and you pair it to your Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids. It lip-reads and analyzes body gestures to determine which person you’re trying to hear, isolates their voice, and streams their speech to your hearing aids. It intuitively switches when it determines there’s a new speaker.

It comes out later this year, and a price isn’t determined yet. You can sign up to receive updates about the product launch.

Illustration of people adding app blocks to a larger than life smartphone

6 Smartphone Apps to Help Boost Your Communication

Want to feel even more connected to the world around you through the power of sound? There’s an app for that!

Actually, we’ve compiled a list of six apps that can help support your communication wellness.

  • 1. Live Transcribe

    This Google app for Android-powered smartphones doesn’t translate but does transcribe in-person conversations in real time. The program — developed with Gallaudet University, the renowned U.S. school for deaf and hard-of-hearing students — can turn speech from more than 70 languages and dialects into text on your phone’s screen in a matter of seconds, facilitating communication with quick, helpful captions. It even supports bilingual chats, letting you toggle between languages, and allows you to type your responses rather than speak them if so desired. Bonus: The app can also notify you of important sounds — the beep of a smoke alarm, for example — in your home.

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  • 2. NIOSH Sound Level Meter

    Though it can’t replace professional instruments or expert opinion, this app uses your compatible mobile device’s built-in microphone to measure the sound level in your environment. On a global scale, some researchers estimate that 16 to 24 percent of hearing loss is associated with occupational noise. Excess noise is one of the most preventable causes of hearing loss, making it important to know the sound levels where you potentially spend a lot of time — at work — so you can curb your risk. The app can also help approximate noise at stores, restaurants, or anywhere else you may need to protect your hearing.

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  • 3. SoundWatch

    How does artificial intelligence right at your wrist sound? This exciting smartwatch-based application can alert you to the sounds around you, making daily life even easier. The application, developed especially for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, uses machine learning to alert the user to certain types of sounds they can preselect — a car honk, a cat’s meow, a baby cry, or running water, for example. It’s not for emergencies or other high-risk situations but could help enhance general awareness of your environment.

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  • 4. Marlee Signs

    This app for children and adults teaches basic American Sign Language (ASL) with Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin, who is deaf. ASL, common in the U.S. and Canada, offers a way to connect with others regardless of their hearing ability but can be especially useful for those who are or have friends or loved ones who are deaf or have a severe to profound hearing loss. Other ASL-instruction apps are also available, so consider using a few different ones to explore finger-spelling, conversational signing, building vocabulary, helping babies communicate, and more.

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  • 5. SoundPrint

    This app takes noise measurement to a whole other level with its decibel meter coupled with the ability to upload results to the user community via a searchable database. Users can look for restaurants, gyms, subways, and other spots by categories such as “quiet,” “moderate,” “loud,” or “very loud” sound-level ratings. Like the NIOSH Sound Level Meter, SoundPrint doesn’t replace a professional device, but it may help approximate noise levels in a given space.

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  • 6. AGX® Online Hearing Quiz

    OK, this one isn’t an app, but it’s just as convenient. The AGX Online Hearing Quiz — developed with audiology experts — takes only two minutes and provides a quick snapshot of your general hearing ability based on three broad aspects: the listening environment, the different tones you can hear, and your ability to hear speech amid noise. It doesn’t replace a true diagnostic hearing exam, but it will indicate if you can benefit from further testing.

As with any app, availability, functionality, and cost can change. The mobile apps listed above are free as of this writing, but compatibility with iOS- or Android- powered phones, tablets, or watches can vary per program, so be sure to read about them in the relevant online app store for more details.
 
Have questions about using apps with your hearing device? We’re here to help. Contact our caring team today!


Find Your Favorites

A whole world of apps awaits, so don’t hesitate to build your own list of healthy-hearing faves. Get started with these simple tips:

  • Search by keyword, developer name, app title, or product category to turn up results you may want to check out.
  • Carefully read the app description and system requirements. Some apps might also offer a demo you can preview before buying or downloading.
  • Learn what others think of the app by reading users’ comments and professional reviews that may be available online.
Illustrations of scientists in white coats checking beakers full of fluid

Today’s Hearing Research Offers Hope for the Future

Scientists. They’re just like us: always looking for ways to help people hear and live their best. It starts with uncovering the mysteries of hearing loss, which can require a lot of resources. That’s why we love seeing important research initiatives get the funding needed to move forward.

Check out these three exciting developments:

AUDITORY PROCESSING

Can stress early in life affect children’s ability to make sense of what they hear? A $2.3 million grant awarded by the U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders at the National Institutes of Health will help Northeast Ohio Medical University explore just that. The funding will help power an investigation into the role of early-life stress on auditory processing — especially among children with conductive hearing loss. Per the school’s website, the research in part “will provide a focus for future experiments to determine how best to remediate these perceptual problems in children.”

HEARING LOSS AND TINNITUS

Certain chemotherapy drugs can be life-saving for patients but potentially harmful to the ears. A $5.7 million U.S. National Cancer Institute grant will help researcher Lois B. Travis, M.D., Sc.D., at the Indiana University School of Medicine continue an ongoing investigation. The study, aimed to “evaluate long-term health outcomes for cancer patients who receive platinum-based chemotherapies,” may help provide some important answers regarding potential links between the cancer treatment and conditions such as hearing loss and tinnitus. It eventually could help experts identify not only those at greater risk of the harmful side effects but also ways to reduce such risks.

HEARING HEALTH & COVID-19

Amid increasing reports of potential links between COVID-19 and hearing loss, the U.K.’s University of Manchester is taking a deeper look. With support from donors, the school’s Manchester Centre for Audiology and Deafness is exploring the disease’s long-term effect on hearing ability among adults. More than 10% of respondents treated for COVID-19 had reported tinnitus or decreased hearing in a previous study by one of the investigators. We look forward to seeing the outcomes of the current research, which might offer additional solutions for protecting and preserving hearing health.


Did you know? Today’s better-hearing solutions are a testament to the tireless research that has helped make them possible. Discover the benefits firsthand by scheduling a hearing evaluation with our highly trained team. We can’t wait to see you!

Lineup of new ReSound ONE and AGXrH Technology

New Technology – ReSound ONE: Hear Like No Other

We’re excited about a new line of hearing technology that can help you hear the way you want — naturally. Introducing ReSound ONE.

There’s nothing like the sounds that make your life unique. A favorite playlist. Your sweetheart’s laugh. The newscast you love listening to while whipping up your signature smoothie. In today’s world, however, hearing the sounds of your life can feel more challenging than ever.

It’s why we’re excited about a new line of hearing technology that can help you hear the way you want — naturally. Introducing ReSound ONE.

  • Get closer than ever to a natural hearing experience with the microphone and receiver-in-ear option, which positions a third microphone in your ear to collect sound the way nature intended.
  • Enjoy up to 30 hours of superior hearing on a single charge or up to 25 hours of battery life with unlimited streaming.
  • Stream phone calls, music, and other audio right to your ears — wirelessly. Even enjoy your TV favorites without having to change the volume for everyone else.
  • Experience tailor-made hearing with the ReSound Smart app, including one-tap sound adjustments, geotagged settings for optimal listening, and more.
  • Gain the convenience of face-to-face online hearing care and anytime remote fine-tuning — no office visit needed!
  • Communicate confidently with technology that gives you everything you need to process sound with greater depth and direction, including:

In today’s evolving world, hearing your best matters more than ever. So don’t wait. Contact us to schedule your hearing consultation and personalized ReSound ONE demo today. We’ve made a limited number of appointments available and can’t wait to see you!


ReSound ONE

The personalized hearing experience you’ve been waiting for:

  • More natural sound and improved sense of space
  • Easier-to-follow conversations in dynamic environments
  • Best 1:1 speech understanding

COVID-19 (AKA Coronavirus) Response: Coronavirus Update

Our office is open! 

Appointments are preferred as we are limited people in the office and our waiting area.  Walk-ins are limited.

Curbside clean and checks are still available for those who do not want to come in.  Call our receptionist from the parking lot and we will meet the patient at their car.  Masks are required to enter our office. Hand sanitizer is readily provided to each patient at the reception desk.

We ask that family wait outside and that only one companion be allowed for hearing evaluations.

Hearing aid clean and checks and battery and supply purchases will be curbside.  Please call 918-333-9992 when you arrive and our receptionist will come out to assist you.

Rooms, chairs, surfaces and equipment will be sanitized in between patients.  We are allowing extra time between patient appointments to ensure that all aspects of our office are properly sanitized.  Please be patient with us during this time.  

Dining Out? Dish on the Noise With SoundPrint

Dining Out? Dish on the Noise With SoundPrint

RESOURCE ALERT: Enjoy Dinner Out and Hear the Convo

Do restaurants seem to be getting noisier? If you think so, you’re not alone. And, what’s more, researchers have reported a connection between hearing loud music and choosing more calorie-heavy menu options. No joke!

We’ve found an app that can help you take your power back.

Meet SoundPrint, which lets the online community weigh in on noise levels at various venues, so you can better decide where you want to enjoy a night out — without sacrificing your hearing health.

SoundPrint, compatible with Android and iOS phones, takes noise measurement to another level with its decibel meter coupled with the ability to upload results to the user community via a searchable database. You can look for restaurants, gyms, subways, and other spots by categories such as “quiet,” “moderate,” “loud,” or “very loud” sound ratings.

The app lets you measure the noise level while at a restaurant, add comments like “quieter during lunch,” then upload that data to SoundPrint. Anyone with the app can view SoundPrint’s database of noise levels and user comments, then make an informed decision about which restaurants might pose a problem.

Though SoundPrint doesn’t replace a professional device, it may help approximate noise levels in a given space.

Oh, and about that research linking noise and food selections? The study, “Ambient Music and Food Choices: Can Music Volume Level Nudge Healthier Choices?” involved a series of field and lab investigations that turned up some interesting findings:

  • Lower-volume music, which can have a relaxing effect, leads to healthier food choices such as salad.
  • Higher-volume sounds, which can induce excitement and stress, inspire less wholesome picks like burgers and fries.

Who knew that curbing the volume could support not only your better-hearing goals but healthy eating too?