Phonak Chip Article
My first appointment today asked me about a recent advertisement in the Record regarding a new 'chip' designed to 'restore' speech comprehension. This ad claims that Swiss researchers have 'developed a chip to solve speech comprehension problems'. I carry all the hearing aid manufacturers, including this one, and was intrigued by its claims.
I looked at the ad and sighed. Very misleading, bordering on flat out false advertisement. No, there has not been a special 'chip' that gets implanted into the ear that restores hearing levels back to normal. I wish there were!
Actually, the 'chip' is nothing new or revolutionary, unfortunately. The 'chip' is just the microprocessor that runs a digital hearing aid, and ALL of today's hearing aids have them. This one is just the latest offering from the Swiss brand, Phonak (the Swiss researchers performing the study were from what company? You guessed it: Phonak! Very scientific!). Hearing aid companies renew their 'chips' every 3 years or so, just like how Apple comes out with a new I-Phone every so often. This is just Phonak's new hearing aid.
No, it does not 'restore comprehension'. Comprehension is very complex and there are many other factors that come into play: the level of noise in a room, a person's cognitive ability and also severity of hearing loss. Hearing aids can assist in filling in the blanks of a person's hearing loss which can help the brain 'comprehend'. The hearing aid gets the assist, the brain gets the goal (I couldn't resist a hockey analogy).
With all of that being said, I've fit this product on a number of people since its release in late November, and I have to admit, I've had great feedback. Great performance in quiet and in situations with some background noise, better clarity than older products, hardly any whistling, etc. It definitely won't restore all comprehension issues, but it is an improvement over its past product line.
I wish all of the claims in the ad were true, it would make my life easier for sure. But like anything, if it sounds to good to be true, it usually is.