bi-cross hearing aids; unhappy user

Monicabuck monicabuck at aol.com
Thu Mar 27 11:41:25 EST 1997


My daughter is 12 years old and has bilateral hearing loss, profound in
her left ear and severe in the right.  She is using a system called
"bi-cross" which involves a cord that connects the left with the right,
bringing the sound from the left hearing aid to the right ear.  Though it
has been explained to me many times, I am not sure why the system works,
but when it is working, one can speak to her left side (normally
unreachable by sound, however much it is amplified) and she will hear,
perceiving it to be coming from the left.  This gives the effect of
binaural hearing. Presumeably, it works through the combination of the
sound being transfered to the right ear and the mechanical pressure of
amplified sound waves reaching the left ear.

At any rate, though the system seems to work well when it DOES work,  the
system is "down," and in for repair, at least half the time.  Apparently
there are not enough people with this kind of imbalanced hearing loss to
make it worthwhile for manufacturers to develop a system that really works
well.  The connection between the aid and the wire goes awry very easily,
and my daughter must wear an inferior, monaural aid while she is awaiting
repair, which is an extraordinary amount of the time.  It is exhausting
for her brain to keep making the adjustment from hearing on both sides to
just one, not to mention the tiresomeness of never knowing when it's going
to break again, and the many trips to the hearing aid place.

The fellow who serves as dispenser is a very kind man, who keeps sending
the aids back for repair with his suggestions, urging us to be patient. He
is something of an advocate for the bi-cross system, and in fact when it
works, as I've said, it really is wonderful, bringing stereoscopy and more
clarity to my daughter's hearing experience.  I do not want to question
his authority on the subject, yet I am not sure he is aware of all the
options, or if the bi-cross is really best, or if perhaps there might not
be a manufacturer that has made the system work well with their aids (we
have used Unitron, and are currently trying out Starkey).  The system
costs $2400, and I would be hard pressed to buy a spare, but even if I
did, sometimes they fail within days or hours of a repair and other times
they may go a month or two without a problem.  I can easily imagine having
a two sets, both "down" at the same time.

My questions are: Is there someone out there who is familiar with dealing
with this kind of bilateral discrepancy and how to deal with it?  Is there
another system that addresses the particular situation of having one ear
much more severely impaired than the other?  Does somebody out there know
where I might hook up with an expert on the subject?  

If possible, please reply in the forum, for the benefit of others who
might be in the same boat, and send a copy to me by email at:
monicabuck at aol.com.  I am a klutz at using newsgroups, and may not be able
to find my way back, though I will try.

Thanks!
Monica Buckley



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