Surgery Circumvented

Synchronize speech in both ears with Binaural Spatial Mapping.

For ten years, Joyce Conner suffered a progressive loss of hearing. She remembers seeing at least ten audiologists; six ear, nose and throat physicians and two ear specialists, all of whom tried but failed to preserve and improve her hearing.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Joyce Conner

“I’ve had quite a few different hearing aids, and none of them helped me hear better,” Joyce reflects. “I couldn’t decipher words because I have a reverse-slope hearing loss. It’s not really a normal hearing loss.”

Joyce’s hearing loss was having a huge impact on her personal life. She stopped going to lunch with her friends and stopped shopping on her own. She noticed people would sometimes become irritated because they didn’t realize she couldn’t hear or understand them.

“I became kind of a hermit, and I’m usually very outgoing,” she admits.

Joyce’s problem was affecting her at work as well. She held a management position and was responsible for many employees, but her hearing loss made it difficult to communicate with them.

“The problem was so bad that I had two ear specialists tell me that hearing aids would never work and that I was going to need to put Cochlear™ implants in my ears,” Joyce says of the surgically implanted hearing devices. “But I just wasn’t ready for that. I mean, I still had some hearing. I could still hear a lot of sounds.”

When the surgeons started talking about implants, Joyce turned instead to Dean M. Knoblach, a board-certified Hearing Instrument Specialist and the owner of Knoblach Hearing Care, for help.

“Joyce had experienced dramatic reductions in her low-frequency hearing,” explains Dean. “The speech signals she needed amplified were always in the same range as other ambient room sounds, proving quite difficult for most hearing instruments to provide any real speech clarity. She just couldn’t understand speech.

“Joyce tried several sets of hearing instruments from different manufacturers, all with limited results. But things changed for Joyce when we fit her with a new technology developed by Starkey Labs called Binaural Spatial Mapping.”

Simultaneous Hearing

Binaural Spatial Mapping is a wireless feature. It takes in sound – live signals and speech – in the left ear and sends the speech to the right ear. Likewise, speech from the right ear is sent to the left. In this way, no matter where the speech signals are coming from, the patient is hearing them equally clear in both ears.

To keep both ears perfectly synchronized, this process is continuously performed over 166,000 times per second. It’s the difference between hearing through a telephone handset compared to hearing through a set of stereo headphones. Other sounds such as music and wind noise may be heard on the left side or the right, but speech signals are always heard in both ears together.

“I’ve been to over ten different audiologists in the last ten years, and most of them do the normal stuff, but Dean goes the extra mile.” – Joyce

Joyce’s problem was that she needed to have room noises soft. At the same time, she needed speech definition, separation from the ambient room noise, and clarity. Hearing aids featuring Binaural Spatial Mapping provide all of that, so Dean recommended a pair for Joyce, who could not believe the difference they made in her hearing.

“She kept saying, Wow, this is incredible. It’s amazing. This is the best I’ve heard since my hearing loss started,” recalls Dean. “That was from a woman who was told she needed surgical implants because hearing aids would never work.”

“The impact has been enormous, and I’m finding out what I enjoy,” Joyce says. “I went out to eat with a girlfriend of forty years. I also had my granddaughter come to visit me, and she yelled, Grandma! I said, Sweetie, you don’t need to yell anymore. Grandma can hear you when you talk normally now.

“I just can’t tell you how much joy these hearing aids have brought me. You don’t even realize what you’ve missed until you can’t hear. I’m hearing again. I’m able to communicate, and that’s a blessing right there.”

Determined to Find an Answer

Joyce credits Dean Knoblach and his staff for their perseverance in working with her during this difficult time.

“He never gave up on me,” she remarks. “He kept persevering, and his whole staff had such a good attitude about it. Having an audiologist who is understanding and keeps trying, persevering with you, means a lot more than words can say.”
Dean says that kind of perseverance is a staple of Knoblach Hearing Care.

“At Knoblach Hearing Care we don’t rest until a patient is fitted, feels comfortable, hears clearly in both quiet and noisy listening environments and can hear on the phone,’’ he says. “In other words, we don’t quit until they pass the smile test.”
Joyce has been smiling ever since she was fit with her hearing aids.

“I’m very thankful to him. I’m very thankful that he didn’t give up and I didn’t give up,” she reflects. “I’ve been to over ten different audiologists in the last ten years, and most of them do the normal stuff, but Dean goes the extra mile.
“And thanks to him, I’m spending time with family and friends again, and that’s really important to me.”

Thanks to Knoblach Hearing Care, Joyce is back to doing the things she enjoys.

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