There's good news for Canadians dealing with the challenges of hearing loss. Phonak, a leading global provider of hearing instruments and wireless communication solutions has launched the next generation hearing aid product platform Belong, which includes pioneering lithium-ion rechargeable battery technology in hearing aids.
Launched less than two years after the successful introduction of the Phonak Venture platform, this new initiative includes Audéo B Receiver-in-Canal (RIC), the first ever hearing aid to feature a built-in lithium-ion rechargeable battery that provides 24 hours of hearing. This represents the quickest charging, longest lasting rechargeable hearing aid ever produced. Audéo B-R, was released to the US market in August, with Europe to following in September 2016. Phonak, a member of Sonova Group, has developed, produced and globally distributed state-of-the-art hearing systems and wireless devices for more than 60 years.
For people who use hearing aids the issue of recharging is an important one. A Marketrak 2015 study referenced in a Phonak press release says research revealed that rechargeable batteries and rechargeable hearing aids are top of the list of features that hearing aid users are seeking.
Jon Waterhouse, Director of Professional Practice for Connect Hearing Canada, says he is delighted by the speed at which new breakthroughs are happening – and not a moment too soon.
“It's such an exciting time to be in this industry, on the front lines of hearing health. This remarkable contribution by Phonak is just another example of the wonderful breakthroughs we are seeing every year in hearing aid technology,” says Waterhouse. “Sometimes I have to pinch myself. When I look at where we were just five years ago with hearing support technology and some of the scientific advancements that are coming out today, it's just unbelievable. More people are being exposed to improved hearing technology than ever before.”
The National Instittute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders says 28.8 million U.S. adults could benefit from using hearing aids, adding that among adults aged 70 and older with hearing loss who could benefit from hearing aids, fewer than one in three (30 percent) has ever used them. Even fewer adults aged 20 to 69 (approximately 16 percent) who could benefit from wearing hearing aids have ever used them.
The Canadian Hearing Society reports hearing loss is the third most prevalent chronic condition in older adults and the most widespread disability. Its prevalence rises with age – 46% of people aged 45 to 87 have hearing loss. According to Statistics Canada, more than one million adults across the country reported having a hearing-related disability, a number more than 50% greater than the number of people reporting problems with their eyesight (StatsCan, 2002). Other studies indicate that the true number may reach three million or more Canadian adults, as those suffering from hearing problems often under-report their condition.
Translation – there is a need for hearing aids and Waterhouse believes that every breakthrough makes it easier to get the gift of hearing into the hands of more people.
“There are so many things to love about this hearing aid,” says Waterhouse, who stressed the need for people to make an effort to come in for a free hearing test. “You aren't charging the device as much, which saves time and money and is environmentally friendly. The power pack, which is easily attached to the Phonak Charger Case, provides power for seven full charges of two hearing aids, ideal for short trips where no power source is available. You also get a compact mini charger, which is even better.”