Wednesday, July 1, 2009

My HAs have been reprogrammed. 5db aided at 125Hz, 98% speech score!

I have talked for a few months about getting my HAs reprogrammed and finally I got them reprogrammed! One of my HAs suddenly died, but the other is going strong. The dead one will be sent in for repair/replacement. Many others have experienced this bug with their Naidias dying on them. I learned alot more about hearing loss and hearing aids when I can see all the reprogramming going on.

I posted about this in a previous post. My speech comphrension has increased and my best score is a whopping 98%, higher than many with CI who took this test. I constantly score around 85% which is a 15% improvement just from boosting the lows! More gains has brought out extra loudness and makes it easier to hear!

The funny thing is "John" and "Joan" both sounded identical before my HA was reprogrammed for more gain and before I kept training my brain. Now I can differnate the two most of the time.

Im still stuck unable to distinguish between "has" and "had" although I hear both words. My dad says I need to listen closely for the hissing "s" sound. Can you hear that sound with either HA or CI? How do you score on the above speech test, see my earlier post for a link.

My dad said a bunch of numbers such as "four hundred sixty six" or "six hundred fifty two" and I got it right most of the time. Fifty and sixty still give me trouble for now, gotta keep training my brain to tell the subtle differences!

Red dots: My unaided hearing for both ears.
Blue dots: My aided hearing for both ears.

The difference is amazing! Reprogramming my HAs for more gains has gotten my low frequency aided thresholds down to normal hearing, quantity(but not quality) wise. I hear (low frequency) sounds that my mom, dad and brother don't hear! When there was a thunderstorm, I could hear the pattering of every drop of rain on the roof! I heard thunder before my mom and dad did! It was a loud, rumbling sound!

I am still learning what makes some people with similar audiograms get more benefit from HAs than others. My audiologist says it has to do with training your brain and he says I need to keep training my brain or I won't properly understand speech.

If everyone is different, why can't others train their brain to understand speech(provided they still have a measurable amount of residual hearing, such as similar to mine) I do know you still need to train the brain with CI to improve speech. Hopefully you can train your brain in your HA ear to hear lots of environmental sounds and a good deal of speech. Can your HA be reprogrammed for more gains? It's made a big difference for me in my experience. Ill be sharing it in my blog.

Right now, it's mostly the S and F that I can't differnate although I hear both of them, they sound the same! However if someone says "snake" and "snakes" I can tell there's an extra S. But between "fun" and "sun" they are so similar. So yea even with me hearing mostly low frequencies(nothing much above 1000Hz) I still am able to convey a high percentage of speech information. I read that frequencies of 2000Hz and up only account for 10% of speech.

I will post more as I learn and get fine tuned programming on my HAs


  1. Well, I also got 98% on that same test, consistently scoring 80-95%. I can easily hear the difference between "haD" and "haS" with the CI.

    It's still difficult for me to tell the difference between S and F, but it's only been 1 month... whereas I spent almost 3 decades wearing hearing aids and got virtually nothing out of them.

    I'm pretty sure those who have CI can get 100% on that test quite easily, especially if they've had experience with it.

  2. I think your scores are remarkable for hearing aids. I'm not familiar with the test though, was it without lipreading??

  3. BTW, how much time do you spend at the audiologists and in aural training? Does it leave any time for work and play?

  4. You can find the link to my test in an earlier post. The test is free and done online. I don't spend much time training nor at audiologist. You just got a CI, I am curious if you kept your residual hearing and how much? Losing my residual hearing is my biggest fear.

  5. It's too early to say about the residual hearing, once the ear has settled I'll have a better idea of that.

    I'm not worried if I do lose it though as as far as I can tell those "loud" low frequencies have got in the way of the high frequencies. The electrode is far enough in to cover the low sounds too.

    time will tell!

  6. well, I just did that test with unaided ears, I scored 45% just guessing from the clues. ie the meter of the words etc. Without any word suggestions I would score 0%.

  7. I'm glad your hearing aid tune-up is helping you hear more.

    If you're looking for harder tests or audio therapy try the Sound and Way Beyond demo that's here:

    It has environmental sounds, vowels, consonants, closed set sentences (like the Medel one you posted) and open set sentences and words where you have to type the sentence without any clues. It also has music training that would be tough for most hearing people.

  8. Hi mog:

    Ive left comments in your blog wishing you the best of luck and hoping you keep alot of residual hearing. Do you plan to wear a HA together with CI like Sara?

    I thought about that myself but I am not a candidate for hybrid CI since I have more than 60db HL at 250Hz. The full CI might destroy all my residual hearing, leaving me without a plan B if I find that I hear louder/better with HA, I won't be able to go back to HA.

    Also im hearing that you need to keep your ears virgin/intact with residual hearing to properly benefit from stem cells which some experts say will be in human clinical trials in 2015-2020 from what I read. If it's any indication, I made a post about someone who already got stem cells and it greatly improved his hearing!

    As for low frequencies, ive read that they account for 60% of speech and 75% of sounds. I will be doing testing on that but so far without anything above 500Hz I still scored 65% on that test vs. 90% with the mids thrown in. Ill compile all the numbers when im done testing and it should be interesting and educational.

    I do wish I had more hearing, especially in the lows so I could at least hear some sounds unaided. Without my HAs almost everything is silent. Ive always wondered what it would be like to hear some sounds without hearing aids. Id also hear much louder/better with HAs. I will be posting my own scores and numbers with different programs/volume settings on my HAs.


    Thanks for your comment. Ive read your blog and you say it's too early to post conclusive results if CI is better. You think im too negetive. Well im frank/blunt and alot of people don't like to hear anything that clashes with their beliefs, they hate reality. I always wish people good luck regardless. Did you keep enough residual hearing in the CI ear to wear an ITE hearing aid? Ive personally thought about getting a hybrid CI like you but ive been told I don't have enough residual hearing to begin with so am not a candidate. A full CI would probably destroy all my residual hearing :(

    I consider myself being realistic and ive talked to others with CI and they all agree what CI can and can't do. Alot of people tell me if they had as much residual hearing as I do, they never would have touched CI. My own audiologist can't even guarantee CI will be better than my HAs but says if I hear worse than HAs, I can never go back to HA in the implanted ear.

    So yea it surprises me, my audiologist and my friends when someone with better hearing, more residual hearing than me is a CI candidate and goes thru with it. One of my friends got turned down for a CI even though he wants a CI in his 100% dead ear because his better ear has only a severe-profound hearing loss(70db-105db) and he understands 72% speech in the good ear. The bad ear of course is 0% for speech and sounds.

    As for the sound demo, it says you get only 5 trials. Will I be able to use it for an unlimited time or does the demo stop working after 5 trials? Id love to give the demo a try but I need to use it much more than just 5 times before I can no longer load the demo saying it expired.

    I will keep testing my ears, HAs and speech and see how I score with different volumes/programs. You scored 95% on that medel test before CI despite having older/weaker HAs than me. I really do wish I had more residual hearing. My audiologist said if I had your hearing in your good ear, id hear perfectly with the Phonak Naida V UP HAs he sold me.(I made a post about that a while ago on my blog)

  9. By the way, I was surprised why you didn't try better HAs before getting CI. This is not meant to offend. Ive seen others get CI without first finding out how much more benefit stronger HAs would provide. I know one guy who wanted CI and he had 20% speech. His CI audiologist loaned him the best HAs with maximum gains and he now scores 70% speech and hears five times better! He saved the $50,000 cost and risk of CI!

    If I am able to hear at 5db(125Hz) 10db(250Hz) 20db(500Hz) 40db(1000Hz) despite how bad my hearing is(115db loss 1000Hz) I don't understand why anyone with better hearing than that wouldn't hear way better? If I only had a little more residual hearing, id be hearing normally(25db or better) across the board. I have friends like that and most of them understand 100% speech despite a severe hearing loss.

  10. Who's being negative? I don't see any negativity in your post or any of the comments. You ask why people don't try the newer HAs before going forward with getting a CI. The reason is that all digital hearing aids are quite similar in the way they amplify sounds. The problem with the strongest HAs is that more amplification does not necessarily make the sounds clearer.

    The reason I did not try other HAs before going with the CI is that I've tried higher amplification with the same HAs I've had for a few years and it only made things sound worse.

    So the answer was to get clearer sounds delivered via a different pathway to bypass the damaged hair cells. Not amplification.

    And you say you're being realistic. While that's commendable, I have to question many of the "facts" you use in your blog posts. You tend to minimize the importance of mid-high frequences for speech understanding. I think that is decidedly not true, and many of the speech sounds are at least mid frequency. I'm quite familiar with the low frequency sounds, but they are definitely not enough for speech understanding.

    Those who have great speech understanding with just HAs probably are post-linguistically deaf, or just elite lip-readers. On closed-set sentences, you can just guess which word is which. I do some guessing too, even with my CI, but like I said I can hear the difference between "has" and "had". With the HA, I would have no clue and I'd get stuck.

  11. I would be interested in learning more about how you train yourself to hear better.
    You referred to it in passing here. Will you post more on that topic soon?

  12. SpeakUp Librarian, of course I will post more about training. As long as I can tell a difference between words, I can improve. I scored 72% when I first did the online speech test, now im at around 85%. Ill need stem cells that improve my hearing in order for me to be at 100%

    Nabeel, It's a question of sounds being loud enough and getting access to the speech banana. Not much can be done for clarity but transposition helps a fair bit for those with no high frequency hearing but still has plenty of mid frequency hearing. In my case, transposition is useless since almost all my residual hearing is at 500Hz and below.

    I guess trying newer HAs may work featurewise rather than brute power. Instead of amplifying to the moon, the features use creative methods to improve hearing. Transposition is the main feature. There's other features that block background noises and features that boost bass. I read of someone who went from 20% speech to 70% speech by trying a different, newer HA.

    A CI does bypass the damaged hair cells and stimulates the cochlea/nerve directly. However it usually destroys the rest of the hair cells in the process. The more hair cells a person has, the more a person will benefit from HAs. I will post a thread on the math using numbers to derive at percent odds of hearing better(or worse) with a CI over HAs. In my case, I have about 75% chance of hearing better with CI than HAs.

    As for high frequencies, my dad has presbycusis and is outside the speech banana for the high frequencies, yet he hears 100% speech including the "S" and "F" he told me that anything above 2000Hz is not important and is just useless, annoying shrill noise.
    He did say that hearing 1000Hz and below is important.

    I will scan and post my 2002 audiogram, it's very interesting. That audiogram shows I have no residual hearing above 500Hz, yet there's a comment saying I understand some speech at 60db HL which equals normal converstational in loudness.

    As for the med-el speech test, I tried it and will post a blog about it. The results are very interesting and im scoring in the 80% range with just low frequencies. Yes words like "has" and "had" sound the same but most of the other words sound totally different.

    I was born deaf and my parents say I taught myself how to read lips. I can understand like 90% from lip reading alone. No problem conversing with others except on the phone.
    Glad to hear(pun intended) that your CI is working well. I am saving both of my ears for stem cell technology by 2020.