It was a bit of a PR stunt but a very clever one. Instead of listening to tones in a booth, the people being tested were treated to Beethoven played live by a symphony orchestra.
The choice of Beethoven’s Fifth is kind of poignant. He wrote it during his thirties, a time when he was becoming increasingly deaf.
The special concert was sponsored by Neuroth, an Austrian audiology firm, and took place in Bern, Switzerland. Not sure how scientific the test results were but it certainly was an interesting way to do it.
I first met Emily Goodman five years ago thanks to the CEO of one of Canada’s biggest financial institutions. We were chatting after I had taped an interview with him, and we discovered we had something in common. Both of us were losing our hearing but he seemed to be coping much better than I was. He told me to go see his audiologist, Emily Goodman at ListenUp Canada. She changed my life. Below, she answers to some common questions. But first meet Emily:
The next generation of hearing aids is now being born, and they promise to be at the vanguard of a revolution. But calling them hearing aids is like calling a laptop a typewriter. So the term “hearables” was coined a couple of years ago by Nick Hunn.
The hearing aid industry is facing an Uber moment. Or is it?
The market is being disrupted by newcomers armed with new technology at a cheaper price. If that sounds familiar remember the fate of the taxi industry. It too was sheltered by regulation but along came Uber and Lyft who skirted or ignored the rules.
The threat to the established order in the hearing aid industry comes in the form of personal sound amplification products, or PSAPs which, by the way, have a rather unappealing pronunciation: PEE-saps.
There is no cure for sensorineural hearing loss, the type that 90% of us with fading hearing have. But thanks to some deaf chickens, there is hope.
The primary problem is the hair cells in our cochleas. They convert vibrations into the electrical signals that flow to the brain. Like all mammals we are born with a finite number of hair cells and as we age they start dying off or are killed by high decibel sounds. They are never replaced and so begins the hearing loss.
But what if the genes can be tweaked to re-grow hair cells?
This incredible short video by the BBC has amazing visuals that show you how your brain receives sound. Sadly, and somewhat ironically, the audio mix is so bad that’s almost impossible to hear the voice over.
The psychological impact of hearing loss is well documented. Depression being the number one symptom. Frankly, that’s not particularly surprising since losing your hearing is obviously depressing since it disconnects you from the world. But it’s also associated with a range of other mental issues including, yes, your sex life.
Hearing aids are expensive. But that’s for another post. There is government financial assistance available for Canadians. The amount and your eligibility depends on where you live.
It’s not easy to come up with a definitive cross-country guide since many of the rules and regulations are confusing to say the least. (Any clarifications or updates are welcome) So consider this a rough guide: