Did you hear? Phonak Sky™ Lumity portfolio has expanded

The Sky Lumity portfolio makes it easy to provide hearing aids with a suitable fitting range for all degrees of hearing loss. But fitting range isn’t the only thing we need to consider. What else should we think about and what is important to parents?

As I’ve spoken with pediatric audiologists around the world, the conversation has turned to – “What are the most important factors about hearing aids that help parents feel confident that they are making the right decision for their child?”

For some, it could simply be the color! For others, they want to know if the hearing aids will survive – the child, the environmental conditions, the siblings!

For the majority, they want to know that it is ‘the best’ hearing aid possible for their child. They understand that making the right decision is critical. We, as professionals who fit hearing aids to children, are now responsible for giving the parents the right information and guiding them through that decision.

First things first – Hearing aids need to maximize audibility

As pediatric audiologists, we know that first and foremost, a child’s hearing aids need to be the right ‘strength’ for the child’s hearing loss. While parents are unlikely to express this need in these words, this is a critical factor as audibility underpins everything that we do to mitigate the effects of a hearing loss in a child.

The great news is, the Sky Lumity portfolio covers hearing losses from a mild through to profound degrees. You just need to select the appropriate form factor.

Audiological considerations aside, what features might parents consider important when they are selecting hearing aids for their child?

Features parents consider important

Safety features and robustness
Hearing aids are small and may be a safety hazard for young children, whether it be to the child with hearing loss or to their siblings. In all form factors in the Sky Lumity portfolio, the ear-hook and/or battery door can be tamper-proofed to keep little ones safe from ingesting small parts. They are also robust with an IP68* dust and water ingress rating.

Child-friendly design
A design that appeals to children and their parents encourages consistent use. We should never underestimate how important a decision this is. If parents are not happy with how the hearing aids look, they will be less likely to put them on the child. Phonak Sky hearing aids come in 14 different colors with different color ear-hooks to personalize the look for the child.

Features that benefit kids
Parents want features that are child specific. The benefits of the features found in Phonak’s hearing aid and Roger™ technology have been researched with kids to ensure that they are beneficial to children with hearing loss. Parents, and you, can feel confident that Sky hearing aid technology has features that benefit their child.

These features include:

Microphone directionality and noise reduction
In the past, we were encouraged to turn off all adaptive features including noise reduction when fitting hearing aids to children. Years of research has resulted in a change in this recommendation with both the AAA guidelines1 and the Ontario Guidelines2 advocating for use of noise reduction and directionality.

Use of these features are beneficial to children and can increase hours of use. With Junior mode in Phonak Target fitting software, the research has been applied to the directionality and noise-reduction settings so that the settings are appropriate for children in different age groups.

Speech Enhancer to increase access to soft speech
Giving children access to as much speech as possible is critical to maximize language outcomes.3 Speech Enhancer is an adaptive algorithm designed to enhance the peaks of a speech signal in quiet situations.

Thanks to a study completed Hearts for Hearing by Manning. J, et al (2023)4 we now know that activating Speech Enhancer provides children with an additional 15% understanding of soft speech.

Dynamic Noise Cancellation to reduce self-perceived listening effort
When children experience an increase in listening effort, less cognitive resources might be available for them to comprehend and learn.

In a recent study at Vanderbilt University with participants aged 10 – 17 years, Picou and colleagues (2024) determined that speech intelligibility is not adversely affected by activating Dynamic Noise Cancellation (DNC) and the participants’ self-reported listening effort was significantly reduced when DNC is active compared with DNC off .5,6

The study also investigated the participants’ ability to adjust DNC via an app, and specifically, whether they liked being able to personalize their noise levels, whether it reduced their anxiety levels when in noisy environments and whether it increased their confidence levels. The full results can be found on the Phonak Evidence page

What this means for your daily practice

When it comes to guiding parents in making the right choice of hearing aids for their child you can be confident that you will be able to provide a hearing aid that covers the audiological needs, and the various needs of parents can be covered by the Sky Lumity portfolio.

The current portfolio means children with all degrees of hearing loss can be fit with the latest Phonak technology. Having access to research that demonstrates the proven benefits of Lumity features can help parents feel confident that they are choosing hearing aids that are designed to withstand the rigors of childhood, are safe, can be adjusted as their child’s needs develop, and are proven to be beneficial for children.

*IP68 indicates that the hearing aid is water and dust resistant. It survived continuous immersion in 1 meter of fresh water for 60 minutes and 8 hours in a dust chamber as per the IEC60529 standard.


Interested in learning more about evidence that supports the use of hearing aids in children? We invite you to read an “Ask the Experts” article published in Audiology Online.

References:

  1. Clinical Practice Guidelines: Pediatric Amplification, (2013) Clinical Practice Guidelines: Pediatric Amplification – American Academy of Audiology
  2. Protocol for the Provision of Amplification, (2023), Protocol for the Provision of Amplification (uwo.ca)
  3. Wolfe, J., Duke, M., Miller, S., Schafer, E., Jones, C., Rakita, L., Dunn, A., Battles, J., Neumann, S., & Manning, J. (2022). Low-level speech recognition of children with hearing aids. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 33(4),196-205.
  4. Manning, J., Wolfe, J., Neumann, S., Nelson, J., & Dunn, A. (2023). The use of Speech enhancer with pediatric hearing aid users, [Conference Poster], 7th Phonak European Conference, Berlin, May 11 – 13 2023. Retrieved from www.phonak.com/evidence.
  5. Pletch, K,. Kruse, R., Branscome, K., Nelson, J., & Picou, E. (2024, April 17-20) Noise control algorithm reduces listening effort for adolescents who are bilateral hearing aid users. [Conference Poster], American Academy of Audiology Annual Conference, Atlanta, Georgia. USA. https://www.phonak.com/evidence
  6. Standaert, L. & Nelson, J. (2024) Empowering adolescents with Dynamic Noise Cancellation and Tap Control. Phonak Field Study News. https://www.phonak.com/evidence. In preparation.

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