Using the real-ear-to-coupler difference within the American Academy of audiology pediatric amplification guideline: Protocols for applying and predicting earmold RECDs
Journal of the American Academy of Audiology
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Background: Real-ear-to-coupler difference (RECD) measurements are used for the purposes of estimating degree and configuration of hearing loss (in dB SPL ear canal) and predicting hearing aid output from coupler-based measures. Accurate measurements of hearing threshold, derivation of hearing aid fitting targets, and predictions of hearing aid output in the ear canal assume consistent matching of RECD coupling procedure (i.e., foam tip or earmold) with that used during assessment and in verification of the hearing aid fitting. When there is a mismatch between these coupling procedures, errors are introduced. Purpose: The goal of this study was to quantify the systematic difference in measured RECD values obtained when using a foam tip versus an earmold with various tube lengths. Assuming that systematic errors exist, the second goal was to investigate the use of a foam tip to earmold correction for the purposes of improving fitting accuracy when mismatched RECD coupling conditions occur (e.g., foam tip at assessment, earmold at verification). Study Sample: Eighteen adults and 17 children (age range: 3-127 mo) participated in this study. Data Collection and Analysis: Data were obtained using simulated ears of various volumes and earmold tubing lengths and from patients using their own earmolds. Derived RECD values based on simulated ear measurements were compared with RECD values obtained for adult and pediatric ears for foam tip and earmold coupling. Results: Results indicate that differences between foam tip and earmold RECDs are consistent across test ears for adults and children which support the development of a correction between foam tip and earmold couplings for RECDs that can be applied across individuals. Conclusions: The foam tip to earmold correction values developed in this study can be used to provide improved estimations of earmold RECDs. This may support better accuracy in acoustic transforms related to transforming thresholds and/or hearing aid coupler responses to ear canal sound pressure level for the purposes of fitting behind-the-ear hearing AIDS.