This issue of The Hearing Review features—among several interesting items—three particularly noteworthy articles that may have a great impact on your practice and future fitting strategies. Teresa YC Ching, PhD, and her colleagues at the National Acoustic Laboratories (NAL) in Australia present an excellent tutorial regarding the fitting of infants and children using the NAL-NL1 fitting approach (see page 12). The NAL, the National Centre for Audiology at the University of Western Ontario, and other researchers around the globe, have been making terrific strides in developing new fitting protocols for the pediatric population. Also, in this issue, Francis Kuk, PhD, and Carl Ludvigsen, MS, provide a comprehensive overview of the factors that can contribute to the occlusion effect (see page 22). They break down the causes of ampclusion into easy-to-understand categories, then offer ways in which you can approach the problems (a follow-up article that presents an occlusion-reduction protocol will appear in the September issue of HR). Last, but certainly not least, long-time hearing aid researcher Larry Revit, MS, has come up with what he and his colleagues believe is a better testing system for assessing the benefit of directional aids. My hunch is that this system, or something akin to it, will become widely implemented in the future. His article appears on page 34.

Other observations that may interest you:

Saddle Up for the IHS Convention in Reno! The International Hearing Society is gearing up for its 51st annual convention in Reno, Nev, on September 11-14. Last year’s event—the convention’s golden anniversary—was postponed by about 2 months due to the tragedy of 9/11, and many who planned on attending just couldn’t change their schedules in time. Thus, IHS is hopeful that this year’s gathering will draw a large amount of support from long-time IHS members. A preview of products and services being offered by exhibitors at the convention appears on pages 40-45. For information on how to attend the event, contact IHS at 800-521-5247 or visit www.ihsinfo.org.

Hearing Instrument Sales Remain Flat. Net US sales of hearing instruments declined by a half-percentage point (-0.59%) in quarter 2 of 2002, according to the Hearing Industries Association (HIA). In the first 6 months of this year, HIA member companies reported selling 949,000 hearing aids—almost exactly the same (-0.1% fewer) as last year.

High Performance Aids Dominate Market. HIA statistics also indicate that digital hearing instruments continue to increase in popularity—now accounting for a total of 40.1% of all hearing aids dispensed in the US (compared to 27.2% for all of 2001). Programmable analog aids accounted for 28.8% (compared to 31.8% for 2001). These numbers are essentially identical to the June 2002 HR Dispenser Survey figures (39% and 29% respectively). If the trend holds up, that means that high-performance instruments (ie, DSP + analog programmables) should make up an astonishing three-quarters of the market by year’s end.

Consumer Reports Onhealth Reviews Hearing Instruments. Consumer Reports Onhealth newsletter (May 2002, Vol 14, No 5) features an article on hearing instruments which is—on the whole—pretty fair and useful. In the opinion of many in the industry, previous Consumer Reports articles on hearing aids tended to concentrate too much on technology and price, de-emphasizing the role of the dispensing professional and the patient in the fitting process. This article does a good job in providing a background on hearing loss, its causes and diagnosis, and also contains good information on procuring hearing help and buying a hearing instrument and its associated services. The article can be obtained for $3 from Consumer Reports (www.consumerreports.com).

Karl Strom
Editor-In-Chief