Background: Patients with unilateral sensorineural hearing loss (USNHL) experience great difficulty listening to speech in noisy environments. A directional microphone (DM) could potentially improve speech recognition in this difficult listening environment. It is well known that DMs in behind-the-ear (BTE) and custom hearing aids can provide a greater signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) in comparison to an omnidirectional microphone (OM) to improve speech recognition in noise for persons with hearing impairment. Studies examining the DMin bone anchored auditory osseointegrated implants (Baha), however, have been mixed, with little to no benefit reported for the DM compared to an OM. Purpose: The primary purpose of this study was to determine if there are statistically significant differences in the mean reception threshold for sentences (RTS in dB) in noise between the OM and DM in the Baha® Divino™. The RTS of these two microphone modes was measured utilizing two loudspeaker arrays (speech from 0° and noise from 180° or a diffuse eight-loudspeaker array) and with the better ear open or closed with an earmold impression and noise attenuating earmuff. Subjective benefit was assessed using the Abbreviated Profile of Hearing Aid Benefit (APHAB) to compare unaided and aided (Divino OM and DM combined) problem scores. Research Design: A repeated measures design was utilized, with each subject counterbalanced to each of the eight treatment levels for three independent variables: (1) microphone (OM and DM), (2) loudspeaker array (180° and diffuse), and (3) better ear (open and closed). Study Sample: Sixteen subjects with USNHL currently utilizing the Baha were recruited from Washington University's Center for Advanced Medicine and the surrounding area. Data Collection and Analysis: Subjects were tested at the initial visit if they entered the study wearing the Divino or after at least four weeks of acclimatization to a loaner Divino. The RTS was determined utilizing Hearing in Noise Test (HINT) sentences in the R-Space™ system, and subjective benefit was determined utilizing the APHAB. A three-way repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) and a paired samples t-test were utilized to analyze results of the HINT and APHAB, respectively. Results: Results revealed statistically significant differences within microphone (p < 0.001; directional advantage of 3.2 dB), loudspeaker array (p = 0.046; 180° advantage of 1.1 dB), and better ear conditions (p < 0.001; open ear advantage of 4.9 dB). Results from the APHAB revealed statistically and clinically significant benefit for the Divino relative to unaided on the subscales of Ease of Communication (EC) (p = 0.037), Background Noise (BN) (p < 0.001), and Reverberation (RV) (p = 0.005). Conclusions: The Divino's DM provides a statistically significant improvement in speech recognition in noise compared to the OM for subjects with USNHL. Therefore, it is recommended that audiologists consider selecting a Baha with a DM to provide improved speech recognition performance in noisy listening environments.
- Abbreviated Profile of Hearing Aid Benefit (APHAB)
- Bone anchored hearing aid (Baha)
- Directional microphone
- Reception threshold for sentences (RTS)
- Single sided deafness
- Unilateral sensorineural hearing loss