Get to know why take-home trials are not good for hearing loss patients
In Singapore, a lot of hearing centres provide a ‘risk free’ take-home trial for their patients to let patients have a feeling of how hearing aids help them in the real-life environment. These take-home trial periods usually last around 7 to 10 days.
However, it’s important to know that a take-home trial period can be counterproductive. There are two major reasons:
The major reason is brain adaptation. Wearing hearing aids is a long process for the brain to re-learn to hear and process sounds. The adaptation period for hearing aids varies from person to person, depending on patient’s commitment and auditory stimulation. In general, it takes around three months of consistent usage (recommended usage hours: 8 hours/day) for our brains to get used to the amplification introduced by the hearing aids. The short trial period for a patient is not adequate for the brain to adapt well to the hearing aids. The hearing aids can only be truly and completely effective after a period of brain adaptation, with regular tunings and reviews from professionals.
In most of the cases, the hearing care professionals would not give 100% amplification (meaning the amplification that the patient truly needs eventually) at the beginning. It is because the patient needs to gradually get used to hearing sounds from the hearing aids again. Depending on individuals, some patients may feel the initial amplification (e.g. 80%) is not enough that they still cannot hear speech clearly at times; while some patients may feel 80% of amplification is too loud. As a result, the patient may feel that the hearing aids are not helping them. Even worse, the patients may lose confidence in hearing aids and refuse to put on hearing aids again in the future.
Patient commitment and ownership
There is an argument on users who own their own hearing aids are more likely to be committed to wearing them than those who are wearing a trial set . Patient commitment is very important in all kinds of rehabilitation journeys, including rehabilitation for hearing loss – wearing hearing aids. If the patient is not as committed as we expected them to be, the outcome may not be satisfactory.
The intention of providing a trial period to patients is of course to let them try out in the real-world environment and see how they can benefit from the hearing aids. However, this may risk an implication to patients that if they do not see the benefits immediately, they do not need to be committed to the hearing loss rehabilitation.
It is still good if the patient returns the hearing aids because he/she wants to try another brand. On the other hand, what if the patient returns the hearing aids because he/she is not ready and refuses to commit to the hearing loss rehabilitation? What shall we do in this case? Are we providing an option for patients and allow them not to wear hearing aids even though we clearly know that they need to? This is a question that is worthy for thinking for hearing care professionals.
How can we assure that patients can benefit well from the hearing aids without a take home trial?
Some people may argue that it is impossible for hearing care professionals to verify or validate the benefits that patients get from the hearing aids. This is not true. In hearing healthcare, there are different tools for both hearing aids verification and validation, such as using the real ear measurement machine (verification) and different questionnaires (validation).
More importantly, whether the patients can benefit well from the hearing aids is in fact not determined by the short take-home trial period. It should be determined by the long-term hearing aid usage. Wearing hearing aids is a long and continuous journey. It requires a lot of commitment and patience from the patients themselves, family members and the hearing care professionals. This is the reason why regular adjustments and reviews by hearing care professional are crucial.
It is understandable that hearing aids wearers, especially for first timers, have a lot of worries and questions. A good hearing care professional will always be with you and walk through the journey with you, to make sure that you will be able to benefit the best from your hearing devices. If you have any concerns, do not hesitate to reach out to your hearing care professionals.
- The Hearing Review. The Case Against a Trial Period. Retrieved 7th September, 2021 from https://www.hearingreview.com/hearing-products/hearing-aids/ite/the-case-against-a-trial-period.
Clinical Audiologist (MSc. Audiology, NUS)
Amazing Hearing strongly discourage any patients seeking solutions for their hearing loss to take up trial set. Appropriate assessment and hearing aid recommendation should be explained during consultation.
Our team of experienced consultants and audiologists will be here to assist you through your hearing journey, which is a lifetime.