Access to hearing aids has dramatically increased with the roll-out of over-the-counter hearing aids in the US. Further, more and more individuals are qualifying for cochlear implants, as you no longer need to have bilateral deafness to receive them. However, there is another technology for hearing assistance that many have not heard of: low-gain hearing aids. Here, we will review what they are, how they work, and who they can help as part of our mission to combat hearing loss across different populations.
Low-gain hearing aids are the same type of device as traditional hearing aids. The difference? They provide less increase in volume– or “gain”-- than traditional hearing aids. And unlike traditional hearing aids, they are not fitted for individuals suffering hearing loss. Instead, they benefit children and adults with auditory processing disorder (APD).
APD is a disorder where an individual has normal hearing, but has a difficult time processing auditory messages due to problems with their neural pathways. So while they can physically hear noise, they have a difficult time understanding it. This can lead to longer processing times, fatigue, and frustration. APD is particularly common among individuals with autism.
Low-gain hearing aids increase low-intensity sounds in the high-frequency range, leading to better clarity of speech. They also help reduce background noise, which poses a particular challenge to those with APD.
Individuals with APD aren’t the only ones who could benefit from low-gain hearing aids. They may also be helpful for individuals with hidden hearing loss– hearing loss that doesn’t show up on hearing tests. Further, scientists are studying whether they may have a benefit for individuals with tinnitus.
We at RestorEar are excited to see new applications of technologies for a variety of hearing disorders. We are proud to present ReBound alongside these exciting products to help support hearing health globallyRead more about low-gain hearing aids here.