Hearing Aid for sensorineural Single Sided Hearing Loss (SSHL), Unilateral Hearing Loss (UHL)

Hi All, Hoping someone in this Forum can advise.

Suffered sudden SSHL/UHL in left ear over 10 years ago; in late 30s. The loss is sensorineural, not conductive; up to Severe loss (80db+) level. As per my past posts in this Forum, top-tier CROS options do not work sufficiently for me to be useful; and in more recently post confirmed single-sided CI option is not available for me since I live in Japan. (FYI, sound like great option to look into, if it’s available to you!)

Q: If I constantly input sound into my severe-hearing loss (but not deaf) left ear using an appropriately programmed Hearing Aid, over time (assume years), could the plasticity of the brain allow to adjust & “recognize” the sounds by utilizing the limited cochlear hair cells and hearing neural paths that are still “active” and sending signals?

Seems hearing brain adapts and make sense of the weird sounds from CI over time. My right ear hears totally fine, so one hemisphere of my brain is already totally tuned to recognize & process all & any signal reaching it. Maybe brain would re-wired & piggy-back on that active side?

If there are any brain scientists, or just very smart people in the know : ) who can comment on this wild idea or share literature on this, would be highly appreciated. Thank you.

FYI, currently I put an adjusted hearing aid in my left bad ear; which allows for some “noise” recognition, but no actual comprehension or understanding. It’s a safety blanket, rather than actual working solution. I hear with my right ear only; which as any sensorineural SSHL/UHL sufferer will tell you is both “workable” in very quiet home or office environments, but also totally unworkable in even slightly noisy office, home, or outside environments!

I’m neither a brain researcher, nor a hearing professional, nor am I very smart. I’m just compelled to reply to your post because my common sense tells me that:

1.The area of the brain that should be receiving auditory input will be subsumed by other functions (eg. Vision) if it does not receive that stimulation,
2. You already have a hearing aid for the bad ear,
3. Your existing HA can be adjusted to deliver sound to the impaired ear at safe SPLa using REM,
4. Used as a means of "buying time for your left ear by offering it some stimulation, this option may see the development a suitable CROS or other therapeutic protocol in the future, and
5. In the absence of guidance to the contrary, a decision to use a properly-fitted hearing instrument in the left ear is not deleterious, and causes no harm.

So - and I wish it to be clear that this is in no way offered as a medical opinion - I would be using a hearing aid in my bad ear, if I were in your shoes.

I would also be seeing a speech therapist to maximize the chances that the brain could, in fact, benefit from whatever it is that the second HA is allowing it to hear.

There’s my $.02, FWIW.

You will never get the sort of sound out of that ear with sudden loss that you have out of your good ear. Consistent wear at an appropriate amplification level (which would be difficult given that it will probably sound a lot worse than the right ear and may interfere) might push your word recognition in quiet up a bit on that side. I would not expect tremendous gains in noise. If you think you might ever have access to putting a CI on that side, it’s probably worth keeping some amplification in that ear for at least part of the day.

Single-sided deafness has a tremendous impact on speech processing in noise, which can sometimes be difficult for your typically hearing peers to understand. Do you have the option of trying out a Phonak Roger On with a Roger Focus in the right ear? I’d think this would be your best bet to improve your hearing in noise.

1 Like

@Neville @SpudGunner Thank you both for your comments and advice. I will continue to keep using the HA in my poor ear; and continue hoping & looking for new technologies & options. CROS technology does not seem to work for me. Reading articles, sounds like AMPCros option would just confuse or disturb my hearing & comprehension in my good ear. However, never thought of the Roger idea. So I would put a HA in my GOOD ear in noisy situations (only), and connect to Roger device, to supplement with filtered & selective noises (i.e. speech only) with what I can already hear and filtered through my good hearing ear? Works kind of like a CROS receiver; but more advanced & focused sound selection? Also, engaging a Speech Therapist is a totally new idea too. In my case, what would I ask them to do?

@andyf: I would explain your situation and ask them ro devise some “brain plasticity exercises” (for the want of a better term) to assist your brain in filtering the sounds you hear. You’ll want to have some notes about what you can hear with your bad ear, and how that perception differs from your good ear.

[Let’s say that your good ear hears a coffee grinder, but your bad ear hears a hiss. We can’t change that perception because your hearing apparatus is damaged. However, we can, perhaps, train your brain to correctly interpret that particular hissing sound as a coffee grinder whenever you hear it. Good ear hears a coffee grinder, bad ear hears a coffee grinder - differently, of course - but the brain is now happier because there’s no more cognitive dissonance associated with hearing a coffee grinder in one ear and noise in the other.

The purpose of the training is not to make you hear more sounds. It is to improve the accuracy of the informational content of the sounds you’re able to hear with the bad ear. Viz. “Oh! I know what that hiss is! It’s the coffee grinder!” So - we’re not improving the neural signal from the ear, but rather, we’re improving the brain’s ability to correctly interpret the damaged neural signal. We’re helping you to hear better, however, we’re not doing it from the ear side, but rather from the brain side.]

You will be unable to do this by yourself, but brain learning/rewiring is feasible. You may want to use your browser search engine to research recent advances in this field. There have been many. Try doing some general reading about neuroplasticity to understand where I’m coming from … it’s all very encouraging!

1 Like

Why? What was your experience? Honestly, I wouldn’t expect an enormous benefit in noise from a CROS. The CROS would help you hear speech from your bad side so that you don’t always have to crane your head around, and might help with environmental awareness, but it probably wouldn’t give you the boost in noisy situations that you are looking for. However, most of my CROS patients are still pretty happy with them.

Yup. You don’t even need a true hearing aid, you can put a Roger Focus in the good ear (basically looks exactly like a hearing aid but cheaper because it’s just a receiver) and use the Roger On with that.

No cochlear implants in Japan? Or do they only given them to individuals with two bad ears?

2 Likes

@SpudGunner Thank you for the comprehensive and awesome explanation. Wow. Totally new concept and world for me. Will start Googling and searching for a professional or clinic nearby who can help me! Cheers.

@Neville Thanks for the follow-up. Yeah, probably my expectations of CROS technology is a little too high. However mostly need help for conversations in noise; and in mild-noise, sound-localization would be great (i.e. I can hear it, but where from) but cannot achieve this with a CROS. Yes, in Japan, need hearing loss in both ears to be considered for a Cochlear Implant. The ENT did not even recommend trying HAs, even when I ask about potential of this option, when I lost hearing in my left ear. It’s true that trying HAs, I have yet to find a good solution; however the Roger device idea sounds promising and something totally new to look into. Thanks for this. Will discuss with my HA specialist.

Sound localization is largely a binaural skill, unfortunately. :slightly_frowning_face: