Hearing Instrument Sales Rise by 12% in Third Quarter; Almost 7 in 10 Hearing Aids Are Now Digital
Alexandria, Va—Third-quarter US hearing aid unit sales rose 12.1% compared to the same period last year—the first time quarterly sales have risen by over 3% since January-March 2000, according to Hearing Industries Association (HIA) statistics. When the statistics of government sales (Veterans Administration) of hearing aids are ignored, hearing instrument unit sales for the private sector rose by 10.1% compared to sales during the third quarter of 2002.

The strong growth numbers are clearly a welcomed change for the hearing care field, and the statistics are slightly higher than anaecdotal reports of manufacturers and dispensing offices from the field. Digital sales continue to gain popularity, accounting for nearly 7 in 10 (68.8%) of all units dispensed between July 1 and September 30, up from 61.8% from April 1 to June 30. By comparison, only 44.6% of all units sold in 2002 were digital. BTE usage (24.0% of all hearing aids dispensed) continued to gain ground, while overall returns for credit remained relatively stable at 13.2%.

D02a.jpg (10478 bytes)Siemens Sends “Ade” to 253rd Transport Co.

Siemens Hearing Instruments, at the request of audiologist Janet L. McGuire, donated 1,200 packets (210 lbs) of Gatorade to the 3rd Platoon of the 253rd Transportation Company serving in Iraq. This summer’s temperatures soared to 140°F and greater in places, according to McGuire. The company is led by McGuire’s husband, Mickey. “It’s great to know that, at times such as these, caring and support comes from beyond your immediate family and friends,” says Janet McGure. “There is also your hearing health care family and friends.” The sign says “Thank you Siemens, Iraq 2003, 3rd Plt, 253rd Trans Co.”

Phonak Launches EduLink
Warrenville, Ill — A new hearing device designed to assist in remediating auditory processing disorders (APD) was launched at the recent UHA Congress held in Nuremberg, Germany. Called EduLink, the device is an “ear set” that transmits the teacher’s voice through FM technology directly to the child’s ear via a hearing aid, reducing ambient and background noise for improved speech discrimination. EduLink is designed to complement existing therapies in the treatment of APD.

APDs are often behind the emergence of speech and learning disorders. Often, APD is detected in the context of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Hyperactivity (ADSD). It also could be a significant contributory factor in the emergence of dyslexia. Children with APD have normal intelligence and normal hearing ability, but they have problems understanding. The cause is not to be found in the ear but in the brain where the processing and evaluation of nerve impulses are impaired.

The classroom poses a particular challenge to the treatment of APD, because children with APD have extreme difficulties in understanding the teacher’s voice. EduLink is designed to ensure that this important information reaches the ear as a priority. The findings of numerous studies, as well as ongoing field tests in Europe and the US, reportedly indicate enormous potential for systems which improve the signal-to-noise ratio to help children with APD. With EduLink, Phonak says it wants to support existing therapeutic approaches and give children a good start in learning vital communication skills. For more details, visit www.phonak.com.

2004 AAS Scientific Meeting to be Held March 7-9 in Scottsdale
Scottsdale, Ariz — The American Auditory Society (AAS) will hold its annual Scientific and Technology Meeting on March 7-9. This year’s conference features a special session on auditory function in aging, presented by Sandra Gordon-Salant, PhD, Judy Dubno, PhD, Larry Humes, PhD, and George Gates, PhD. Translational research will be presented on evidence of a genetic component for otitis media (Margaretha Casselbrant, MD), neural representation of stimulus in cochlear implants (Bertrand DelGutte, PhD), speech encoding and neural plasticity and their ramifications on learning problems (Nina Krause, PhD), and the aging ear (John H. Mills, PhD). Additionally, the AAS Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Jack Vernon, PhD, and the Carhart Memorial Lecture entitled, Piezoelectric Membrane-Based Motors in the Outer Hair Cells, will be presented by William Brownell, PhD. For more information, visit the AAS Web site at amauditorysoc.org.

CID and Washington University School of Medicine Form Alliance
St Louis — Two leading hearing research centers, the Central Institute for the Deaf (CID) and Washington University School of Medicine, have announced the formation of a new level of partnership. The School of Medicine has assumed ownership and governance of CID’s hearing research, adult clinical care, and advanced degree programs. The CID School and CID Outreach Center will continue as independent programs. Transferred programs have become part of the Department of Otolaryngology, under direction of Richard A. Chole, MD, PhD. The department will assume and continue the research programs of the Harold W. Siebens Hearing Research Center, which houses the Fay and Carl Simons Center for Biology of Hearing and Deafness and the Center for Childhood Deafness and Adult Aural Rehabilitation. The Spenser T. Olin Hearing Clinic for adults will remain on campus but will become part of the Dept of Otolaryngology’s Division of Adult Audiology.