Real ear measurement (REM) is a process used in audiology to verify the performance of hearing aids in a patient’s ear. It is a highly accurate method of measuring the sound output from a hearing aid within the ear canal and comparing it to the patient’s prescription.
Why perform Real Ear Measures?
Real Ear Measurement (REM) is considered the gold standard in hearing aid fittings for several reasons. One of the primary benefits of REM is its accuracy in evaluating the performance of hearing aids. Unlike other methods that rely on generalization, REM measures the sound pressure level at the eardrum, providing an impressively accurate representation of the sound being delivered to the hearing aid wearer.
Through REM, audiologists can provide a more personalized evaluation of the hearing instrument, ensuring that it is performing optimally to match the user’s hearing requirements. Looking at the big picture, real ear measurement is highly critical in ensuring that the hearing aid is providing the best possible benefit to the user.
What is the basic process of Real Ear Measurement?
Real ear measurement typically involves the following steps:
- Placement of the probe microphone: A probe microphone is inserted into the ear canal and positioned near the eardrum.
- Calibration: The probe microphone is calibrated using a reference sound source to ensure accurate measurements.
- Insertion of the hearing aid and presentation of signals: The hearing aid is then inserted into the ear. Once it is turned on, the hearing aid is presented with a set of test signals; there is speech played at specific volume levels.
- Measurement of sound levels and comparison to target: The probe microphone inside the ear will measure the sound levels and these levels will be compared to the target levels that are based on independent research.
Based on the comparison levels, the hearing aid can be adjusted to achieve the desired level at the eardrum.
Are real ear measurements necessary?
Real ear measurements (REM) are considered necessary for ensuring the optimal performance of hearing aids. Since every person’s ear canal shape, size, and hearing needs are different, how a hearing aid performs greatly depends on how it is adjusted or programmed. REM helps to account for these differences by measuring the sound levels at the eardrum in real-time.
REM is also a game changer when it comes to tracking and monitoring hearing aid performance and efficiency. Over time, hearing needs may change, hence, it is vital to make any necessary adjustments to maintain optimal performance.
Real Ear Measurement vs. Auto Hearing Aid Programming
Real Ear Measurement (REM) and Auto Hearing Aid Programming (AHP) are two methods used by audiologists and other hearing healthcare professionals to program and adjust hearing aids.
The main difference between these two methods is that REM measures the sound levels at the eardrum in real-time, while AHP relies on algorithms to make adjustments based on pre-programmed data.
While we are on the topic of AHP, it’s also a good time to talk about Manufacturer’s First Fit. This is a method of hearing aid programming that uses the default settings provided by the manufacturer. A Manufacturer’s First Fit does not take into account the unique variations in the ear canal, which means that if no manual changes or REM are performed, the hearing aid may not provide the best possible performance for the user.
History of Real Ear Measurement
The history of real ear measurement can be traced back to the mid-20th century when the need for more precise and accurate measurements of hearing aid performance became apparent.
Early methods involved placing a microphone or probe tube directly in the ear canal to measure sound levels. Over time, technology has advanced to allow for more sophisticated and automated measurements using specialized equipment.
Fast forward to now and REM is considered to be a “golden standard” when it comes to the fitting and evaluation of hearing aids. This procedure is widely acknowledged to provide valuable information about the effectiveness of the hearing aid, allowing for necessary adjustments to ensure optimal performance for each user.
Real Ear Measurement and Hearing Aid Success
At the end of the day, the goal of real ear measurement is to ensure that the hearing aid is providing the correct amplification to ensure that the hearing aid wearer is getting the best possible benefit from the device.
At South County Hearing Services, we want you to get the most out of your hearing aids. We want you to experience the best possible hearing improvement and we believe that real ear measurement makes a huge difference in boosting hearing aid success.
Contact us today to book your hearing appointment!