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Researchers are looking at ways to apply new signal processing strategies to the design of hearing aids. Signal processing is the method used to modify normal sound waves into amplified sound that is the best possible match to the remaining hearing for a hearing aid user. NIDCD-funded researchers also are studying how hearing aids can enhance speech signals to improve understanding.

In addition, researchers are investigating the use of computer-aided technology to design and manufacture better hearing aids. Researchers also are seeking ways to improve sound transmission and to reduce noise interference, feedback, and the occlusion effect. Additional studies focus on the best ways to select and fit hearing aids in children and other groups whose hearing ability is hard to test.

From the Research Lab

Another promising research focus is to use lessons learned from animal models to design better microphones for hearing aids. NIDCD-supported scientists are studying the tiny fly Ormia ochracea because its ear structure allows the fly to determine the source of a sound easily.

Scientists are using the fly’s ear structure as a model for designing miniature directional microphones for hearing aids. These microphones amplify the sound coming from a particular direction (usually the direction a person is facing), but not the sounds that arrive from other directions.

Directional microphones hold great promise for making it easier for people to hear a single conversation, even when surrounded by other noises and voices.

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Early treatment is the most effective treatment.

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"I have worn hearing aids for over ten years. I was unable to hear my family and unable to discern the direction sounds were coming from. I wanted to upgrade my old hearing aids. I was fit with new hearing aids with upgraded technology. Dr. Niedringhaus tested my hearing and found changes in my hearing that my old hearing aids were not correcting. I would definitely recommend the Audiology Center and Dr. Niedringhaus to others. I am well pleased with my hearing aids and the service I received."

Elizabeth T.,
Patient

"My wife and I want to express thanks to your staff for competence along with the pleasant work attitude as we visited your office. What a pleasant visit overall and what a great job done with Jean's hearing aids!!! Both ladies deserve accolades for making visitors feel welcome - we surely appreciated their time and attention!!!!"

Dave and Jean M., 
Patient

"I was having difficulty hearing sounds and not being able to distinguish words. I was especially having difficulty in noisy situations. I was asking people to repeat themselves. I was also having trouble hearing on the telephone. It was recommended that I see an audiologist and I was referred to the Audiology Center in Rock Hill. I was fit with new hearing aids to correct my problems. I would very definitely recommend the Audiology Center to others. "

Jeri H., 
Patient

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