A study presented at the American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery Foundation Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. shows that the MD Hearing Aid line offers a reasonable low-cost solution to those who are not using hearing aids or other amplification devices because of cost concerns.
In the study, researchers at the Michigan Ear Institute sought to evaluate a novel, inexpensive (under $200.) over- the-counter hearing aid regarding to its acoustic properties and also to test the hearing aid on patients with varying levels of hearing loss to evaluate their perceived benefit by using validated questionnaires.
Hearing loss affects approximately 34 million people in the United States, but hearing aid usage rates have historically remained at just 24%. One major reason for this low rate of use is that hearing aids are typically very expensive, with the average cost of a single hearing aid approximately $1,900. Medicare and most insurance companies do not cover this cost. Many medical studies have linked untreated hearing loss in the elderly with a higher risk of social isolation, depression, anxiety, and symptoms consistent with Alzheimer's dementia.
The MDHearingAid was evaluated using a Fonix 6500c Hearing Aid Analyzer, measured according to accepted standards. The measurements included saturated sound pressure level curve, high-frequency average full-on gain, frequency response, total harmonic distortion, equivalent input noise level, and input-output curve. Then the device was tested on a group of participants with mild to moderately-severe hearing loss who were unwilling or unable to purchase a custom hearing aid due to cost considerations. The participants were asked to wear the device for a minimum of 30 days and complete these self-reported surveys: "International Outcome Inventory - Hearing Aids" and "Satisfaction with Amplification in Daily Living".
Researcher Seilesh Babu, M.D. found that the MDHearingAid met the acoustic targets. All participants demonstrated user satisfaction scores that were within the standard range for patients with mild to moderately-severe hearing loss. The study found that the low-cost MDHearingAid is electroacoustically adequate and a reasonable low-cost solution to meet the needs of those value- and cost-conscious patients who were not using amplification via a custom hearing device.
Dr. Babu stated that further development and investigation of these instruments is warranted, to provide a potential opportunity for greater numbers of persons with hearing loss to have access to hearing aids and reap the medical, social, and emotional benefits from improved communicative abilities.