Training your brain to understand better
For those with light hearing loss or those who have given up on their hearing aids, there is a new solution that trains your brain to process sound faster and more accurately.
BY: Eleanor Yap
Some seniors complain about losing their hearing and in some cases, this is true. However, in many cases, it is not that their ears are failing them, it is just that their brains have become a little “lazy and sloppy” in processing sounds as well as conversation. The brain usually reaches its peak for hearing sound at around the age of 25. After which the speed of processing
sound starts to drop. By late 40s, sluggishness sets in and the brain slows in processing sound.
A new solution called Audio Trainer (AT) 3000 is all set to remedy this. It was launched at the recent 50plus Expo and is said to train the brain to improve understanding so the user will be able to have relaxed conversations in noisy surroundings and for those already with a hearing aid, to be more successful. The handheld device, which is about the size of a Gameboy, has been used in Europe since around 30 years and has been brought into Singapore for the first time by The Hearing Solution Co.
The Audio Trainer puts the user through training via headphones and the user then has to respond to sounds heard through pressing the right buttons. It trains the brain to increase the speed of hearing and to recognise different sounds and rhythms. After acquiring the device, the user is required to undergo an eight-week training programme, with weekly assessments.
Ageless Online speaks to Manfred Stoifl, managing director of The Hearing Solution Co, to find out more about the device:
Who is your target for this device?
Our target audience are 40+ who have normal hearing but notice some difficulty following conversations in noisy or other challenging situations (phone, meetings, etc); people with very light hearing loss, who are not ready to use hearing aids yet; all hearing aid users, who, despite using hearing aids still have difficulty understanding or in general are dissatisfied with their hearing aids’ performance; and last but not least, all children who have some sort of learning disability which can be linked to auditory processing problems. It is estimated that about 20 percent of the general population may have a hearing problem that can be easily overcome by using this latest solution.
How do you assess the customer on his suitability of the device?
At the first consultation, we will do a thorough hearing assessment, including high-frequency testing, a syllable-speech test (to find out the customer’s ability to discriminate consonants in vowel-consonant-vowel combinations and a baseline assessment of eight central auditory functions. Only after these assessments, we will then recommend the customer for the Audio Trainer. After which, we would explain to the customer the use of the AT 3000 and induct him into the first two to three exercises.
So what happens during the eight-week programme?
At each of the appointments, we will discuss with the customer the experience during the exercise and together read out the memory of the AT 3000 to discuss the progress in detail. We will also do an assessment of the trained function and compare with the baseline data from the initial assessment. The customer is encouraged to train for 15 to 20 minutes daily.
After about six to eight weeks, we will make a final assessment of all functions and compare it with the baseline data in the weekly progress chart. Finally, we will repeat the syllable test to see if there are any practical benefits. After the eight weeks, the customer is encouraged to continue the training at least on a weekly basis to maintain his reached results. For the more ambitious, more complex training can be offered.
How much does the device and training cost?
The cost is S$1,100.
What is the success rate of this new solution?
We guarantee that all candidates who start on the programme will experience an improvement. As the improvements may vary from individual to individual, we can only guarantee that there will be improvement in at least the trained functions in auditory processing speed. If this should not happen despite training, as agreed we will fully refund them.
However, this is no guarantee that a person may not need a hearing aid?
The device does not guarantee that one may not need a hearing aid. If there is something wrong in the ear itself so that the ear cannot send enough sound to the ear, a hearing aid is still necessary and will be used together with the training.
Once improved, will this prevent the user from ever having hearing loss?
No, hearing loss is a physical problem of the ear (organ) and our training supports and strengthens brain function.