I get a lot of calls and emails with inquiries about hearing loss, hearing aids, etc (better than solicitors calling about insurance, am I right?). One of many questions I hear (hear, get it?), is "what’s a PSAP and why is it so cheap? and how can it help me?" Let’s try to tackle those questions in a few paragraphs or less. Let’s just call this an introduction though because fully discussing this area will take many MANY blog entries.
Personal Sound Amplification Devices or PSAPs are essentially any device that amplifies sound that has not gone through the Food and Drug Administration regulation process to be called a hearing aid. Because these devices are not hearing aids, they cannot be marketed to help with hearing loss; however, they can be marketed to help in a specific situation, like hunting or business meetings. They’re available direct to consumers via online sales and, sometimes, in stores (this is pretty rare though). As to why they’re so cheap? I’m not involved in the production of any of these products so I can’t answer that directly. But, indirectly, I think it’s because these small companies have cut out many of the middle men and their products are not as sophisticated as a top of the line hearing aid.
Uh oh, it’s not as good as a top of the line hearing aid, does that mean it bad? Well, no. This area is extremely difficult to navigate for patients with hearing loss. Let’s keep this simple and do this in bullet point form:
Well, I ended up going over a “few” paragraphs, but it’s a lot to cover. Many people reading this will still have questions so I’ll say now, here are some future blog ideas I had from writing this entry: device specific reviews, the role of the audiologist in fitting a PSAP, programming PSAPs for patients, and addressing the “stigma” of hearing aids/PSAPs. Well, at least I’ll be supplied with material for the foreseeable future. Hopefully, one of those will answer your questions.
Have a great day!!
Why on earth do we need more hearing blogs? A quick check seems to show hundreds (maybe thousands?) splattered across the web, many espousing different opinions and championing different hearing products. If you’re asking that question, you’re not alone. I’m asking it too. Why would I want to do this? There’s so much out there, won’t my thoughts and opinions get lost in the mix? Also, it’s more work to tack onto my already full plate. And of course, who wants to read my thoughts anyway? However, my opinion changed drastically over the last month.
I was recently interviewed for a piece by Paula Span of the New York Times (you can read about it here). The response has overwhelmed me – calls and emails from folks all over the country telling me their stories and struggles with hearing loss and the current hearing healthcare market. I’m not telling you this to make you think I’m important (hint: I’m not important). Rather, I’m saying this because I’m moved by this outreach and heartbroken at how many people who could benefit from hearing healthcare are disenfranchised with the current system. They lack access, awareness, knowledge, and, sometimes, the wherewithal.
I can’t take on all these folks as patients due to my restricted schedule and I certainly can’t keep personally calling them back. So, I’m going to get with the social media revolution and start a blog. In this space, I will explore current research (particularly that of the Frank Lin research group), new devices, novel concepts, and my own ideas and research related to hearing healthcare to help the public digest all this information. And, of course, my own life experiences (so we can get to know each other). I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I will enjoy writing it.
- Nick Reed
Nicholas S. Reed