Discreet Hearing Aid for Active Lifestyle

Starkey IIC is an in-ear canal device that sounds perfect for busy diver.

Of the more than 150 dives that Sinjin* has made since he became a certified open water diver, none was more memorable than the dive he made seven years ago off the Caribbean island of Montserrat.

“It was a deep wall dive where you dive down along the edges of a coral reef,” Sinjin explains. “The plan was to go down to 130 feet, which is as far as recreational divers can go because at around 100 feet, you can start to get symptoms of narcosis (drowsiness or unconsciousness).

“So, we all had dive buddies, and just as we were approaching 130 feet, I noticed my dive buddy was sort of floating around. I pulled him toward me to check on him and, sure enough, he was just staring blankly and wasn’t responding. He had narcosis.

“So, little by little, I started to bring him back up. Thankfully, once I got him to the surface, he was OK. But if I hadn’t taken notice of him when I did, it’s quite possible he would have fallen deeper into that stupor and maybe perished. So, I saved a life that day.”

Sinjin, 62, is no stranger to saving lives. A former medic in the Marines, he went on to spend 34 years as a nurse in emergency room trauma bays treating everything from heart attacks to gunshot wounds.

Several years ago, just before he retired and moved to Florida, Sinjin began to experience symptoms of a health issue all his own. The issue did not require emergency care. In fact, Sinjin put off seeking care for the problem for years.

“The problem was with my hearing,” Sinjin reveals. “I first noticed it probably 10 or 12 years ago, but it didn’t bother me much and didn’t affect my work, so I pretty much ignored it. Then a year or two ago, my wife started to get annoyed with me.

“I was always asking her to repeat herself, and when we’d watch TV or a movie or something, either I’d have to turn the TV up real loud or keep asking her what the people were saying. Finally, she said, Would you please go get your hearing checked?

“Phenomenal Practitioners”

Convinced that his hearing had become an issue that was affecting others as much as himself, Sinjin had a hearing evaluation done that showed he was experiencing high-frequency hearing loss. His initial attempt to correct the problem failed miserably.

“The first hearing aids I got were self-programming devices that I purchased online through a provider that sent me something in the mail,” Sinjin remembers. “Having been in the medical field, I should have known better because that was a waste of money.

“Then I went to the provider inside one of those big-box stores. What they gave me was better than what I had, but it still didn’t improve my hearing. After that, I started asking some friends for advice, and several recommended EarCare.”

Co-owned by Karen Cowan-Oberbeck, AuD, a board-certified doctor of audiology, and Glenn A. Oberbeck, BC-HAS, a board-certified hearing aid specialist, EarCare has locations in Melbourne, Merritt Island and Indian Harbour Beach.

“When I first went to EarCare, I immediately found the practice to be outstanding,” Sinjin applauds. “Karen and Glenn are phenomenal practitioners who listen to their patients and check and recheck and fit and refit to ensure everyone gets optimum results.”

In evaluating Sinjin, Dr. Karen and Glenn confirmed the previous finding of a significant high-frequency hearing loss. They also learned that Sinjin remains very active as a scuba diver, boater and deep-sea sport fisherman. That active lifestyle factored greatly into their decisions regarding his care.

“Because he’s such an active person, we wanted Sinjin to try out several hearing devices so he would get a good understanding of the capability and limitations of all the products,” Glenn explains.

“We had him try two or three products and eventually settled on the Starkey IIC, which stands for invisible in canal. It’s a product that sits very deep in the ear canal so it’s not going to get in the way, no matter what the wearer is doing.”

The smallest, most discreet hearing device available, the Starkey IIC is custom molded to fit comfortably inside the ear canal so it’s almost impossible to see. In terms of technology, a great deal comes in that small package.

“Getting these hearing aids has literally been a life-changing event for me.” – Sinjin

“Because it sits deep inside the ear canal, the Starkey IIC takes advantage of the natural acoustics of the ear, which is designed to enhance high frequencies,” Glenn educates. “So, the wearer doesn’t need to worry about controlling multiple microphones.

“The wearer also doesn’t need to worry about noise cancellation programs. The hearing aid does the noise cancellation for you, whether it’s machine noise, wind noise or any other interrupting sounds. It has the ability to decipher between speech modulation and noise.

“Also, because of the technology and the nature of the fit, this hearing device automatically switches to a phone mode anytime you put a phone up to your ear, whether it’s a cellphone or a landline. So, there’s no Bluetooth streaming with this device.”

Happy Holidays

Sinjin wanted mostly to improve hearing in normal settings, such as at home while watching TV, going to a movie, in crowded restaurants, at church and when talking with family or friends in a variety of places. The Starkey IIC devices are doing just that for him.

“I got them two days before Thanksgiving,” Sinjin recalls. “At Thanksgiving dinner, I was able to hear everyone in our family very clearly, no problem at all.

“It had been a long time since I was able to hear people clearly in a crowded environment like that, and it was like that again at Christmas, so I think these hearing aids are absolutely fantastic. I really can’t say enough great things about them.

“Not only do I hear better than I have in years, but I feel like my brain is getting stronger because I’m processing sounds I hadn’t processed in years. It’s like those nerves have been reenergized or reconnected.

“Getting these hearing aids has literally been a life-changing event for me, and I can’t thank Dr. Karen and Glenn enough for all they’ve done. As I said before, they’re exceptional. The best. And I absolutely, unequivocally recommend them.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings. mkb
*Patient’s name changed at his request.
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    • EarCare, P.A.

      EarCare provides a wide variety of audiological services, including industrial audiological monitoring, hearing aid evaluations and dispensing, hearing aid repairs for all makes and models, and special audiological diagnostics.... Read More

    • Karen Cowan-Oberbeck, AuD, FAAA, CCC-A

      Karen Cowan-Oberbeck, AuD, FAAA, CCC-A, completed undergraduate work at the University of South Florida. She earned a master’s degree in communication disorders from the University of Central Florida and Doctor of Audiology degree from Nova S... Read More

    • Glenn A. Oberbeck, BC-HIS

      Glenn A. Oberbeck, BC-HAS, is a licensed hearing instrument specialist. His specialty areas include personal communication assistance, cerumen management, audiometrics and assistive-listening devices. He is a member of the International He... Read More