Are we really providing the best hearing care we can?

A major Danish project is investigating how well we are doing – and aiming for a new quality standard.
Right now a hearing test - a simple audiogram - is the only way to determine the extent of a person's hearing loss and the kind of hearing aid they need. But is that really the best we can do?
  
Widex is part of a five-year, cross-sector project that aims to find out.
  
Involving partners from Danish clinics, universities, technological service providers and industry, Project BEAR (Better Hearing Rehabilitation) is evaluating hearing loss treatment in Denmark and developing tools for better care in the future.

Acting on the root causes

The foundation is research to improve understanding of the root causes of hearing loss. Whether the source is the small hair cells in the ear that turn sound waves into electrical signals, the temporal processing of acoustic stimuli or some other function, the idea is to find the best ways to test and measure each one.
  
Using this new knowledge, Widex is working with the other industry partners to group hearing aid users in categories of hearing loss and explore what more can be done to compensate for their specific disorders. Senior specialist Erik Schmidt is part of the Widex team.

"There are a thousand ways to adjust hearing aids - for example, by the way we compress sound, reduce background noise or amplify various frequencies so people are better able to understand speech," he says.
  
"By combining the new knowledge about the auditory system with our knowledge of hearing aids,  we can identify opportunities for improving hearing care."

A blueprint for better standards

These opportunities will be put to the test in clinical trials during 2020. By the time the project draws to a close in 2021, the goal is to have established a blueprint for raising standards of hearing care internationally.
  
"My hope is the project will give us better tools and new protocols for providing more tailored hearing aids that give users a better experience," Erik Schmidt says.
  
Project BEAR is partially financed by Innovation Fund Denmark. The partners are Aalborg University Hospital, Odense University Hospital, University of Southern Denmark, Aalborg University, Technical University of Denmark, FORCE Technology, Widex, Oticon and GN Resound.
 

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