As a pediatric audiologist, I was fortunate to attend my first, and Phonak’s 5th, European Pediatric Conference that recently took place in Berlin. Building on the success of previous events, Andrea Bohnert (Chair) from the University Clinic Mainz, Germany, and Kevin Munro (Co-chair) from the University Manchester, UK, put together an inspiring program related to pediatric clinical practice.
We had a strong turnout. Close to 500 hearing health care professionals from around the globe followed the invitation to the German capital to attend lectures and discuss recent developments in pediatric audiology.
Some of the highlight speeches included:
- Marlene Bagatto, Adjunct Research Professor at the University of Western Ontario (Canada), discussed the guiding principles for providing pediatric hearing instruments. She reminded the audience that pediatric hearing aid fitting is a process from audiometric data all the way to evaluating performance. The use of standards and protocols is essential in monitoring outcomes and doing a systematic comparison of service delivery and outcomes.
- Anne Marie Tharpe and Dr. Erin Picou, both from Vanderbilt University (US), presented on the impact of mild/minimal and unilateral hearing loss (MMHL) and investigations into hearing instrument technology and listening effort in the classroom, respectively. Dr. Tharpe reported that a significant portion of children with permanent MMHL demonstrate difficulties in academic settings. Dr. Picou’s talk described preliminary data that suggests remote microphone technology can reduce listening effort. Here is a short video of her summarizing the talk.
- Barbara Bogner, M.A., Pedagogical College of Education Heidelberg (Germany), gave a lecture on the quality of hearing among hearing impaired children, taught in schools with inclusion. Her insight from measuring hearing quality both subjectively and objectively is that all students report understanding speech better in background noise using remote microphone technology.
- John Fitzgerald, Consultant Clinical Scientist in Audiology (UK), discussed the development of a Peer Review program for ABR across the NHS in the UK. Peer review is defined as a process where an individual’s work is reviewed by colleagues. It’s considered essential in recognizing good practice, providing quality assurance and ensuring consistently high quality services. He recommends an anonymous external system to identify learning points and service improvements.
Overall it was an enlightening program that focused on improving outcomes for children with hearing loss. For further information, here is a link to all presentations at the conference.