Modern Hearing Aids Bring Voice Clarity Back

Loud machines robbed him of ability to understand speech. That’s why standard devices weren’t working.

Klaus Kolb playing the accordion

Klaus’ new hearing aids have him hearing better than ever.

The war Klaus Kolb once tried to simply wish away was finally ending, but with Adolph Hitler defeated and the Soviet army advancing on his hometown of Gorlitz, Germany, the most harrowing moments of Klaus’ childhood were just beginning to unfold.

“I was 11 years old at the time, and I vividly remember being with my mother and two younger sisters, one on each side, fleeing west in the back of a truck until we reached an area of the country occupied by the Americans,” Klaus recalls.

“I had my first bar of chocolate there. A US soldier gave it to me. The Americans eventually pulled back, and when the Russians came in and took the town, my father and I were both interrogated, and my father was thrown into political prison.”

Eight years passed before his father was freed. The Berlin Wall had not yet been built, though, so Klaus, then 20, and his family escaped the Soviet-occupied portion of Germany via the Berlin subway.

“We took a night train with nothing but the shirts on our backs and wound up in Stuttgart, where a friend of my father’s gave us work,” Klaus recalls. “I worked for that company for many years, and in 1965, they sent me to the United States.”

Klaus, now 87, eventually settled in the US. He has since retired, but he’s not inactive. He regularly plays the accordion and piano in a Bavarian folk band. A couple of years ago, a problem with hearing loss threatened to isolate Klaus from his band mates.

“During practices, especially, the other members of the band would talk and discuss what we were going to play, and I couldn’t hear what they were saying,” Klaus explains. “It made me feel as if I was being left out, which was very frustrating.”

Speech Recognition

Klaus has worn hearing aids for many years, but as the issue with his band showed, the devices failed to adequately improve his hearing. That changed after he read an article in the Brevard Health Care News about EarCare and visited its Merritt Island location.

“Klaus first came to us in November,” says Beatrice McCabe, HAS. “He walked in one day at a time when I wasn’t busy with any patients, so we sat down and chatted for a while. We then set him up for a hearing test about a week later.”

That test was conducted by Karen Cowan-Oberbeck, AuD, a board-certified doctor of audiology and co-owner of EarCare, which also has locations in Melbourne and Indian Harbour Beach.

Dr. Cowan-Oberbeck’s full diagnostic hearing exam confirmed Klaus’ hearing loss, which developed largely as a result of the work he did for the Stuttgart-based company that had long employed him.

“It was a manufacturing company called Brückner Machinery Corp., and I spent my first 10 years there traveling the world and installing these very loud textile machines,” Klaus reports. “My extensive exposure to those machines cost me my hearing.”

Dr. Cowan-Oberbeck’s test showed the machines mostly robbed Klaus of the ability to clearly understand speech. That’s why the standard hearing devices he had been wearing were not working for him.

“Klaus had also purchased a set of hearing amplifiers,” Beatrice says of devices that are designed solely to amplify sound. “He got them on the internet, and they didn’t work for him either because they didn’t improve clarity, which is what he needed.

“The hearing aids Beatrice fit me with are perfect for my lifestyle. They do exactly what I need them to do.” – Klaus

“Klaus technically has a moderate level, nerve type hearing loss, but without hearing aids, he can only understand about 28 percent of what he hears during a normal conversation,” Beatrice details.

“Our testing showed that with the proper hearing devices, we could greatly improve his speech recognition. Klaus now has 92 percent speech understanding in his right ear and 84 percent in the left.”

A Perfect Fit

Beatrice forged that improvement by fitting Klaus with ReSound ONE hearing aids. These devices are very discreet, but they are so technologically advanced that they allow people such as Klaus to hear voices far more clearly than before.

Klaus’ hearing aids also have Bluetooth, which allows him to hear sounds produced by electronic devices such as televisions, computers, tablets or smartphones through his hearing aids.

“Beatrice set that up for me, and she also set up a program that allows me to hear things from behind me,” Klaus adds. “I like to ride my bicycle a lot, and now I can hear if there’s a car coming up behind me, which I really appreciate.”

Klaus also appreciates that he was treated so warmly after he dropped in unannounced on Beatrice. He says the entire EarCare staff has gone out of its way to improve his hearing and has him feeling like a valuable customer.

“The service I received from everyone at EarCare was great,” he enthuses. “From the moment I walked in there, I was impressed with how I was treated. They took so much time to make sure that everything was the best it could be for me.

“They give you 90 days to test out the hearing aids and make sure they’re the right ones for you. No one was pushing me to buy anything immediately. They were most concerned with making sure the hearing aids they recommended would work for me.

“The hearing aids Beatrice fit me with are perfect for my lifestyle. They do exactly what I need them to do. Thanks to Beatrice and EarCare, I’m back in business with my band again. I’m enjoying my life to the fullest, and I’m loving it.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings. Photo by Jordan Pysz. mkb
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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

    • Beatrice McCabe, HAS

      Beatrice McCabe, HAS, is a licensed hearing aid specialist. Her specialty areas include personal communication assistance, cerumen management, audiometrics and assistive listening devices.... Read More