J Am Acad Audiol 2015; 26(07): 615-631
DOI: 10.3766/jaaa.14095
American Academy of Audiology. All rights reserved. (2015) American Academy of Audiology

Evaluation of Extended-Wear Hearing Technology for Children with Hearing Loss

Jace Wolfe
Erin Schafer
Natalie Martella
Mila Morais
Misty Mann
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
06 August 2020 (online)

Background: Research shows that many older children and teenagers who have mild to moderately severe sensorineural hearing loss do not use their hearing instruments during all waking hours. A variety of reasons may contribute toward this problem, including concerns about cosmetics associated with hearing aid use and the inconvenience of daily maintenance associated with hearing instruments. Extended-wear hearing instruments are inserted into the wearer’s ear canal by an audiologist and are essentially invisible to outside observers.

Purpose: The goal of this study was to evaluate the potential benefits and limitations associated with use of extended-wear hearing instruments in a group of children with hearing loss.

Research Design: A two-way repeated measures design was used to examine performance differences obtained with the participants’ daily-wear hearing instruments versus that obtained with extended-wear hearing instruments.

Study Sample: Sixteen children, ages 10–17 yr old, with sensorineural hearing loss ranging from mild to moderately severe.

Data Collection and Analysis: Probe microphone measures were completed to evaluate the aided output of device. Behavioral test measures included word recognition in quiet, sentence recognition in noise, aided warble-tone thresholds, and psychophysical loudness scaling. Questionnaires were also administered to evaluate subjective performance with each hearing technology.

Results: Data logging suggested that many participants were not using their daily-wear hearing instruments during all waking hours (mean use was less than 6 h/day). Real ear probe microphone measurements indicated that a closer fit to the Desired Sensation Level Version 5 prescriptive targets was achieved with the children’s daily-wear instruments when compared to the extended-wear instruments. There was no statistically significant difference in monosyllabic word recognition at 50 or 60 dBA obtained with the two hearing technologies. Sentence recognition in noise obtained with use of the extended-wear devices was, however, significantly better than what was obtained with the daily-wear hearing aids. Aided warble-tone thresholds indicated significantly better audibility for low-level sounds with use of the daily-wear hearing technology, but loudness scaling results produced mixed results. Specifically, the participants generally reported greater loudness perception with use of their daily-wear hearing aids at 2000 Hz, but use of the extended-wear hearing technology provided greater loudness perception at 4000 Hz. Finally, the participants reported higher levels of subjective performance with use of the extended-wear hearing instruments.

Conclusions: Although some measures suggested that daily-wear hearing instruments provided better audibility than the extended-wear hearing devices, word recognition in quiet was similar with use of the two technologies, and sentence recognition in noise was better with the extended-wear hearing technology. In addition, the participants in this study reported better subjective benefit associated with the use of extended-wear hearing technology. Collectively, the results of this study suggest that extended-wear hearing technology is a viable option for older children and teenagers with mild to moderately severe hearing loss.