The most game-changing wearable device on the market right now may not be a fitness tracker or a smartwatch; it’s a hearing aid.
Unlike fitness trackers, which are often tucked away in a drawer in just a few months, hearing aids are changing the way that people with hearing impairments live in the digital age, researchers say.
Small, discreet and often Bluetooth-enabled, the new generation of hearing aids look more like something out of a spy movie than a doctor’s office. These devices can connect wirelessly with smartphones, allowing a person to hear a phone conversation directly through his or her hearing aid without needing to hold the phone against an ear.
Scientists have successfully identified two signaling molecules that are crucial to the development of the cochlea – a finding that may assist in reversing hearing loss.
Unlike birds and amphibians, mammals can’t recover lost hearing. In people, the cells of the inner ear responsible for detecting sound and transmitting those signals to the brain form during early stages of development and can’t be replaced if lost due to illness, injury, or ageing.
Studying mice, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified two signaling molecules that are required for the proper development of a part of the inner ear called the cochlea. Without both signals, the embryo does not produce enough of the cells that eventually make up the adult cochlea, resulting in a shortened cochlear duct and impaired hearing.
Sometimes the changes that affect the well-being of our loved ones come about so slowly that we don’t understand what’s happening. Even being a medical professional didn’t make me immune from misunderstanding what was happening to my father. For many years it was clear that my father was progressively withdrawing from the world. Normally gregarious and the life of the party, he became increasingly quiet. A couple of years ago, Dad, now in his 80s, began to walk with a shuffling gait, with painfully slow movements.
When we exchanged emails, he still had all of his sharp intellectual curiosity, profound insights on the community, and warm storytelling skills; but in person, he was fading away. I was especially shocked and saddened to observe him at the wedding reception of a close friend of mine, sitting quietly in a corner, excluding himself from the festivities and happy conversations.