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Auditory Cortical Discrimination test module

HEARworks Pty Ltd

Date Funded:
  • 30 August, 2016

Project summary

World-first tool that will change clinical management for infants identified with hearing loss through newborn hearing screening programs.

What is the issue?

Despite early detection through newborn hearing screening programs and early device fitting, the decision on whether hearing aids are sufficient, or a cochlear implant is required, must often wait until a child has used hearing aids for their first critical years of life. Currently, half of hearing-impaired children present with delayed language skills by 5 years of age. It is currently not possible to identify which children should proceed to cochlear implants before they present with language delays at 3 years of age.

Permanent childhood hearing loss has adverse developmental and health impacts on children’s lives – including speech and language, literacy, mental health, educational achievement, employment and social-economic opportunity in life.

What does the technology aim to do?

The Auditory Cortical Discrimination (ACORD) test module, to be implemented in the HEARLab® platform, is a world-first tool that will change clinical management for infants identified with hearing loss through newborn hearing screening programs. ACORD will provide objective evidence at the critical earliest possible age to assist clinicians in making recommendations to parents as to whether their hearing-impaired infants will develop the best language abilities through either use of hearing aids or receiving cochlear implants.

Through its technology engineering projects, HEARworks has already developed three test modules for the HEARLab system, enabling hearing loss to be automatically detected in infants, adults and the elderly, and reducing the number of appointments required for hearing aid fitting. Installed in Australian Hearing Centres across Australia, HEARLab is improving healthcare services for Australians, while saving precious healthcare clinical resources through more efficient services. HEARworks has continued to develop its NSW-based sound processing engineering team, creating new commercial and employment opportunities for NSW graduates.

In 2013, HEARworks was awarded a NSW Medical Devices Fund grant to develop an Automated Cortical Assessment Test module for the HEARLab® platform. This module uses the electrical responses from the brain to automatically assess a patient’s hearing capabilities to produce an audiogram – a graphical measure of a patient’s hearing status.

The ACORD test module will be the game changer – clinicians will be able to identify infants (age 3 months) for whom a hearing aid will not effectively support normal language development. The ACORD test will monitor a baby’s brainwaves when speech sounds change from one sound to another and will automatically determine whether the baby’s brain can tell the sounds apart.

The ACORD module in the HEARLab® system will empower clinicians to (1) evaluate and fine-tune hearing aids so they have proper access to sound and can tell them apart, which both are crucial for language development; and (2) refer infants for cochlear implant candidacy at the earliest possible age (3 months) with confidence. The objective evidence will support counselling for families to make informed decisions about the best strategy for managing hearing loss in their child.

Use of The ACORD module will increase the efficiency of clinical management of infants with hearing loss, enabling precious hearing healthcare resources to be applied more effectively to serve NSW’s growing population. The ACORD module will be developed by HEARworks highly skilled engineering software development team based in NSW at the National Acoustic Laboratories.

Company contact

Professor Robert Cowan, Managing Director

+61 3 9035 5347