Ask Dr. Cliff: How Does REM Enhance Speech Clarity?

Dr. Cliff discusses the importance of Real Ear Measurements (REM) in enhancing speech clarity and improving the hearing aid experience by customizing settings to individual auditory profiles.

Integrate your CRM with other tools

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit lobortis arcu enim urna adipiscing praesent velit viverra sit semper lorem eu cursus vel hendrerit elementum morbi curabitur etiam nibh justo, lorem aliquet donec sed sit mi dignissim at ante massa mattis.

  1. Neque sodales ut etiam sit amet nisl purus non tellus orci ac auctor
  2. Adipiscing elit ut aliquam purus sit amet viverra suspendisse potenti
  3. Mauris commodo quis imperdiet massa tincidunt nunc pulvinar
  4. Adipiscing elit ut aliquam purus sit amet viverra suspendisse potenti

How to connect your integrations to your CRM platform?

Vitae congue eu consequat ac felis placerat vestibulum lectus mauris ultrices cursus sit amet dictum sit amet justo donec enim diam porttitor lacus luctus accumsan tortor posuere praesent tristique magna sit amet purus gravida quis blandit turpis.

Commodo quis imperdiet massa tincidunt nunc pulvinar

Techbit is the next-gen CRM platform designed for modern sales teams

At risus viverra adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat nisl pretium fusce id velit ut tortor sagittis orci a scelerisque purus semper eget at lectus urna duis convallis. porta nibh venenatis cras sed felis eget neque laoreet suspendisse interdum consectetur libero id faucibus nisl donec pretium vulputate sapien nec sagittis aliquam nunc lobortis mattis aliquam faucibus purus in.

  • Neque sodales ut etiam sit amet nisl purus non tellus orci ac auctor
  • Adipiscing elit ut aliquam purus sit amet viverra suspendisse potenti venenatis
  • Mauris commodo quis imperdiet massa at in tincidunt nunc pulvinar
  • Adipiscing elit ut aliquam purus sit amet viverra suspendisse potenti consectetur
Why using the right CRM can make your team close more sales?

Nisi quis eleifend quam adipiscing vitae aliquet bibendum enim facilisis gravida neque. Velit euismod in pellentesque massa placerat volutpat lacus laoreet non curabitur gravida odio aenean sed adipiscing diam donec adipiscing tristique risus. amet est placerat.

“Nisi quis eleifend quam adipiscing vitae aliquet bibendum enim facilisis gravida neque velit euismod in pellentesque massa placerat.”
What other features would you like to see in our product?

Eget lorem dolor sed viverra ipsum nunc aliquet bibendum felis donec et odio pellentesque diam volutpat commodo sed egestas aliquam sem fringilla ut morbi tincidunt augue interdum velit euismod eu tincidunt tortor aliquam nulla facilisi aenean sed adipiscing diam donec adipiscing ut lectus arcu bibendum at varius vel pharetra nibh venenatis cras sed felis eget.

Hey folks, Dr. Cliff here, and welcome to another episode of "Ask Dr. Cliff!" Today, we're diving into a topic near and dear to my heart — Real Ear Measurements. Specifically, how they can help enhance speech clarity and improve your hearing aid experience overall. Let's get into it!

In the hearing aid fitting process, real ear measurements (REM) play a crucial role in personalizing the device to the user's specific auditory profile. By measuring the sound pressure level in the user's ear canal, we can observe how effectively the hearing aid amplifies sounds, particularly speech. These measurements ensure that the amplification provided by the hearing aid matches the user's hearing loss profile and audio prescriptive targets. REM is essential because the unique shape and size of every individual's ear can significantly affect the hearing aid's performance.

Understanding the importance of speech recognition in daily life, it becomes evident why REM is an indispensable tool. Speech is dynamic, covering a wide range of frequencies and varying intensities, which must be accurately reproduced by hearing aids for effective communication. Without REM, hearing aids might be set to generic settings that could fail to compensate for the listener's hearing loss in everyday listening environments. By incorporating REM into the fitting process, we directly improve the chances of users achieving optimal speech understanding and communication outcomes. 

This fitting procedure is not just a one-size-fits-all task; it is a step towards creating a custom hearing programming for individuals. It is important to visit an audiologist for real ear measurement. The accuracy of REM in verifying the hearing aid settings allows us to adjust the device according to the specific amplification needs of the patient's ear and hearing loss. As a result, patients typically experience better speech intelligibility and a more satisfactory hearing aid experience, fostering confidence in their communication abilities.

Fundamentals of Real Ear Measurement

Real ear measurement is a critical step in ensuring personalized hearing aid fitting. It provides a quantitative method to assess sound levels in the ear canal, contributing significantly to successful hearing aid calibration.

The Concept of Real Ear Measurement

REM involves the use of a probe microphone to measure sound pressure levels in a patient's ear canal. During this process, we position the microphone tube close to the eardrum and measure how sound, produced by a hearing aid, is amplified within the ear canal. This direct measurement allows us to observe how different frequencies are amplified and make necessary adjustments, ensuring the hearing aid's response aligns with the user’s audiometric profile.

Importance of Personalized Hearing Aid Calibration

By utilizing REM, we can personalize the hearing aid calibration to fit the unique acoustic characteristics of the individual's ear canal. This customization is vital because each person's ear anatomy can affect the sound delivered by a hearing aid. Typically, without REM, hearing aids are programmed using average ear canal assumptions (called “first fit”), which may not be representative of an individual’s actual hearing needs. By incorporating REM into the fitting process, we improve the accuracy of the hearing aid's fit, providing better speech clarity and understanding to the wearer.

Impact on Speech Recognition

Real Ear Measurement significantly improves hearing aid fittings, which, in turn, enhances speech recognition for hearing aid users. We'll explore how REM positively adjusts signal-to-noise ratio and speech clarity.

Improving Signal-to-Noise Ratio

REM allows us to personalize hearing aid settings to suit an individual's hearing characteristics. By precisely measuring how sound is amplified within the ear canal, we can adjust the hearing aid's gain for different frequencies ensuring speech sounds are appropriately amplified over background noise. This adjustment enhances the Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR), making it easier to distinguish speech from unwanted ambient sounds.

Enhancement of Speech Clarity

Through REM, we can authenticate that the hearing aid amplifies speech sounds to align with prescriptive targets based on a user's audiogram. This alignment ensures that the full spectrum of speech sounds is within the wearer's residual auditory range, thus enhancing the clarity of speech. Precise adjustments are crucial because even minor deviations from the target can lead to suboptimal speech comprehension. Real-ear measurements help us tailor hearing aid settings so that specific phonemes are more distinct, aiding in better word and sentence recognition.

Implementing Real Ear Measurement in Clinical Settings

Real Ear Measurement is critical in customizing hearing aid fittings to an individual's unique ear canal acoustics, enhancing speech recognition and overall hearing aid satisfaction.

Procedure and Equipment

To implement REM, we first ensure we have the necessary equipment, which includes:

  • A Probe Microphone System: This is critical to measure the sound levels in the ear canal.
  • A Signal Generator: Needed to produce speech-like sounds at various frequencies and intensities.
  • A Calibrated Loudspeaker: To deliver the stimulus to the patient's ear.

We follow a step-by-step procedure:

  1. Initial Inspection: We examine the ear canal to ensure it's clear before inserting the probe tube. Excessive earwax or other obstructions can make it difficult to get a good reading. 
  2. Probe Tube Placement: The tube is placed within 5 mm of the eardrum—a precise distance that's crucial for accurate measurements.
  3. Real-Ear Unaided Response (REUR) Test: We measure the ear canal's natural resonance characteristics.
  4. Real-Ear Aided Response (REAR) Test: With the hearing aid turned on, we measure the amplified sound levels in the ear canal.
  5. Fine-Tuning: Based on these measurements, we adjust the hearing aid's settings at specific frequencies to match the prescribed gain for optimal speech clarity.

Case Studies and Research Outcomes

Recent studies and research in the field of audiology have emphasized the importance of Real Ear Measurements (REM) in enhancing speech recognition for hearing aid users. One study highlighted that traditional predictors of cochlear implant success, such as demographic data and duration of hearing loss, can be complemented by REM, which assesses the personal acoustic characteristics of a user's ear canal to optimize hearing aid settings.

One study demonstrated moderate and statistically significant improvements in speech intelligibility in quiet environments when hearing aids were fitted using REM rather than default manufacturer settings. These findings were backed by a positive correlation with user preference, suggesting that REM could contribute not only to clearer hearing but also to user satisfaction.

In a comparative study, automated hearing aid fittings that included REM presented notable performance differences over the manufacturer's first-fit. This emphasizes REM's role in tailoring the device to the user's unique needs, as opposed to a generalized approach.

Lastly, speech perception outcomes and self-perceived hearing impairment measures improved with both in-person and remote hearing aid programming when REM was incorporated. Given these findings, we can assert that REM is a vital component in the fitting process, leading to better speech recognition outcomes for individuals with hearing impairment. Now you see why I have made a career out of promoting Real Ear Measurements and other evidence-based Best Practices!

Real Ear Measurement at Applied Hearing Solutions

To ensure you receive the best possible hearing aid fitting, we strongly recommend scheduling a hearing test with Applied Hearing Solutions. We prioritize accuracy and individualized care, which is why we employ real ear measurements as part of our best practices. Our audiologists deliver personalized fitting, which can significantly improve speech recognition with your hearing aid. This approach is clinically proven to enhance hearing aid performance, leading to a more satisfying and effective listening experience.

Take the first step towards better hearing and clarity. Contact us today to set up your hearing test. We’re here to guide you through the journey to better hearing.

Written by
Reviewed by
Dr. Cliff Olson
Founder & Audiologist
Read full bio

Dr. Cliff Olson is an Audiologist and founder of Applied Hearing Solutions in Phoenix, Arizona. A former Marine Corps Scout Sniper, he left the military to earn his Audiology doctoral degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Send me a message
Please submit your question and I will get back to you asap.
Thank you! I have received your question. I will get back to you as soon as possible.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.