word discrimination

I found out some time back my audiologist is not really an audiologist. He is a hearing instrument specialist.  I was talking to another lady in my HLA group about him refusing to do a yearly hearing test on me.  That is when she told me the difference in his title.

We were discussing my word discrimination scores.  His word test involved a taped, well articulated male voice.  I scored around 70% in both ears.  She looked at me funny and said she didn’t think that was right.  It sounded high to me too.  After all, it’s done in the sound proof booth which has no reality in today’s noise packed world.  Add any noise at all my word discrimination drops.

Anyway, this guy preferred to tweak my programs according to how I was hearing.  After a period of stress last spring I was wearing my hearing aids at the highest possible volume.  I went in and he tweaked.  It seemed better… for awhile.  Then during the holidays I was under a lot of stress again.  I went in and told him I was having a hard time and maybe it was time for a hearing test again. He declined saying a yearly hearing test wasn’t needed. Usually hearing didn’t drop enough in a year to make much difference.  After two noticeable drops from me???

Last Monday I had another hearing test.  This time it was a female audiologist and she performed the word discrimination test herself.  After all the testing was done we sat down and compared the audiograms.  The last one I had was Dec 09.  I had a 10 to 20 decibel drop in each frequency.  Isn’t that a lot?  My word discrimination, 40% in left ear and 20% in my right ear.  What a big difference!

Why can’t the do a female voice test and a male voice test and average out the scores?  That seems like a more fair representation of what I’m understanding.  To make it even better they should add noise in the background while performing the test.  No where do we have quiet environments like the sound proof booth.  Even as I sit here and type in my own house, I have the clacking of the keyboard as I type, traffic noise and the heater running.   I know the booth gives them something to work off of and a good audiologist will take into consideration and tweak out.

Anyway, it was interesting to me to see the differences.  I almost feel more validated.  Really, 70% in the most ideal situation gives the wrong impression of my day to day experience.

So my hearing aids are reprogrammed and things sound a little sharper again.  I heard a rattle in the car I didn’t know was there before.  I was feeling muddled before. It didn’t seem like it made much difference in understanding people with or without my hearing aids.  Now I can tell the difference again.

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One response to “word discrimination

  1. Mommy Dearest

    Wouldn’t it be great if we could find the right professional the first time? Why couldn’t the man just state what his qualifications were. Grrr…

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