Clearwater Clinical Ltd, makers of a clinically validated iPad audiometer called SHOEBOX Audiometry, have partnered with the University of Ottawa Medical School to expand the successful iHEAR program to bring much needed hearing testing to more elementary school students. Clearwater Clinical announces that iHear is expanding the program beyond the Ottawa region to include Montreal, Halifax, and Saskatoon.
Clearwater reports that, despite recommendations that school-aged children have their hearing evaluated annually, rarely does this testing occur–due, in part, to a growing shortage of audiology resources. Left undetected, hearing loss can lead to issues related to speech, social, and cognitive development in children.
To address this issue locally, Matthew Bromwich, MD, an ENT physician and associate professor of Otolaryngology and Audiology at the University of Ottawa, sponsored an outreach program run by medical students called iHEAR. By capitalizing on the automated capabilities of SHOEBOX Audiometry, these medical students have been able to offer highly sensitive and specific hearing testing to a large and growing population of Canadian youth.
“Since initially forming in 2014, iHEAR has tested over 400 children and identified more than 30 with signs of hearing loss,” said Dr Bromwich, who is also co-founder of Clearwater Clinical and inventor of SHOEBOX Audiometry. “Several of those were serious conditions that would have otherwise gone undetected. The reality is, too few people have regular hearing tests, especially children. SHOEBOX and iHEAR are helping to change that. Now we bring the tests to the people.”
Beginning this year, phase two of the program is expected to reach more than double the number of children. According to Adam Rocker, medical student and Ottawa lead of the iHEAR program at the University of Ottawa.
“Expanding iHEAR through partnerships with the medical schools at McGill University, Dalhousie University, and the University of Saskatoon is a great first step to encourage the adoption of a national screening program, but we have more work to do,” said Rocker. “All Canadian children deserve the best chance to succeed. Our goal is to take the iHEAR program national, perhaps even international.”
In addition to the benefits iHEAR and SHOEBOX Audiometry bring to Canada’s children, the first and second year medical students involved in the program are gaining invaluable, hands-on experience in standard hearing testing and recognizing common hearing loss symptoms. Rocker explained, “The beauty of this project is that even for those of us that have no experience in treating hearing-related conditions, the program provides practical knowledge that is otherwise unavailable.”
The Technology Being Used for Hearing Testing in the iHear Program
SHOEBOX Audiometry is a clinically validated, iPad audiometer that makes it possible to reliably measure hearing outside of a traditional sound booth. With a goal of utilizing mobile health, Clearwater Clinical developed SHOEBOX to address a growing need in the market to test the hearing of more patients in more locations with less effort and increased efficiency.
Co-founded in 2005 by Dr Bromwich, an ENT specialist, and led by CEO Michael Weider, Ottawa-based Clearwater Clinical is combining audiological and technical expertise to design and manufacture innovative medical-grade devices that leverage the power of tablet technology to enable effective, alternative approaches in hearing healthcare. Clearwater Clinical was recently recognized as an innovator in mobile, digital and connected healthcare in the 2016 Global Digital Health 100 Award List.
Source: Clearwater Clinical