Test-Retest Reliability of Probe-Microphone Verification in Children Fitted with Open and Closed Hearing Aid Tips

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Abstract

Purpose:

To investigate the test-retest reliability of real-ear aided response (REAR) measures in open and closed hearing aid fittings in children using appropriate probe-microphone calibration techniques (stored equalization for open fittings and concurrent equalization for closed fittings).

Research Design:

Probe-microphone measurements were completed for two mini-behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids which were coupled to the ear using open and closed eartips via thin (0.9 mm) tubing. Before probe-microphone testing, the gain of each of the test hearing aids was programmed using an artificial ear simulator (IEC 711) and a Knowles Electronic Manikin for Acoustic Research to match the National Acoustic Laboratories—Non-Linear, version 1 targets for one of two separate hearing loss configurations using an Audioscan Verifit. No further adjustments were made, and the same amplifier gain was used within each hearing aid across both eartip configurations and all participants. Probe-microphone testing included real-ear occluded response (REOR) and REAR measures using the Verifit's standard speech signal (the carrot passage) presented at 65 dB sound pressure level (SPL). Two repeated probe-microphone measures were made for each participant with the probe-tube and hearing aid removed and repositioned between each trial in order to assess intrasubject measurement variability. These procedures were repeated using both open and closed domes.

Study Sample:

Thirty-two children, ages ranging from 4 to 14 yr.

Results:

The test-retest standard deviations for open and closed measures did not exceed 4 dB at any frequency. There was also no significant difference between the open (stored equalization) and closed (concurrent equalization) methods. Reliability was particularly similar in the high frequencies and was also quite similar to that reported in previous research. There was no correlation between reliability and age, suggesting high reliability across all ages evaluated.

Conclusions:

The findings from this study suggest that reliable probe-microphone measurements are obtainable on children 4 yr and older for both traditional unvented and open-canal hearing aid fittings. These data suggest that clinicians should not avoid fitting open technology to children as young as 4 y because of concerns regarding the reliability of verification techniques.

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