Twenty years ago, one of our clients, Michael, lost the hearing in one of his ears following surgery. Unfortunately, the hearing loss was so severe that it was beyond the abilities of even the most powerful hearing aid to improve, so the NHS fitted Michael with a Contralateral Routing of Signal device, better known as a “CROS”.
CROS devices are for people with unilateral hearing, a condition also known as “single-sided deafness”. The typical CROS wearer is someone who has relatively normal hearing in one ear but his or her hearing that can’t be helped with standard hearing aids in the other ear.
The CROS is worn on the “bad ear,” it consists of a small microphone to pick up sounds and a transmitter which then sends the signals to the hearing aid worn on the “good ear.” This means that the wearer can hear any sounds made on their “bad side” directly into their “good ear”.
However, although CROS devices can and do help many people successfully, it’s not for everyone. Michael hadn’t worn the CROS device for many years because he didn’t feel there was any benefit from it, and the longer he didn’t wear it the more difficult it became for his good ear to adjust to the device. He struggled to hear with the CROS device against background noise in busy restaurants and theatres and found it difficult to localise which direction sounds were coming from.
Michael came to see one of our Audiologists, Nadia, to find a better solution. Nadia carefully assessed Michael’s hearing on both sides with a Full Diagnostic Assessment to his auditory pathways using tests to check tones, loudness discomfort, word recognition clarity and bone conduction to gauge Michael’s middle and inner ear abilities.
Nadia presented Michael with two possible solutions to test out on a trial basis so he could decide which might suit him best. The solutions were: A “Roger On” device and a high spec CROS device.
A “Roger On” is a very intelligent microphone device, about the size of a small remote control, that wirelessly connects to the hearing aid on the good ear. It is useful in both noisy environments and over distances. It can be clipped to the speaker’s shirt, or left on the table in a conversation or simply held in your hand to listen in. It is clever enough to recognise if the speech is coming from the left or right side and can “zone in” on the speaker and not the background noise. It’s a device that our clients find useful in noisy environments such as restaurants, sporting events or against crowd or traffic noise to pick up speech and suppress any background noise. A Roger On can even be wirelessly connected to your TV or laptop to stream sound/music directly to the hearing aid*
Michael tested the Roger On for two weeks, and then trialled a new CROS device for a further two weeks so that he could compare the experience from the two devices. On completion of the trial, Michael said he found that he’d preferred the Roger On device to the CROS for the clarity of sound and ease of use it gave him and had decided that that was the perfect solution for him.
“Hearing solutions are not a “one size fits all” as far as we’re concerned, it’s about working with the clients to find what is right for them. With the advances in new technology available it’s important for a client to have the opportunity to test potential solutions out for themselves and weigh up the options for their lifestyle” says Nadia.
“In Michael’s case, he took the Roger On to the theatre and found it to be a great help with hearing the dialogue. But the biggest benefit of all for Michael has been social situations in restaurants where he previously struggled to hear conversations on his “bad side” and felt left out of the dynamic of the group chatter. The Roger On has fixed that issue, and Michael feels more engaged and involved with the pace and varying directions of the conversations around him.”
As Michael was leaving the clinic, he mentioned to Nadia that his wife loves the new Roger On device too as she can now give him things to do while she is upstairs, and he is downstairs.
“Maybe it works a little too well”, said Michael, with a wry smile.
*additional connectivity accessory required