Audiology work earns researcher Vanguard Award

Paul Mayne // Western News

Communications Sciences and Disorders professor Susan Scollie was recently awarded the Innovator of the Year Awards, part of the WORLDiscoveries inaugural Vanguard Awards, for her work with the Desired Sensation Level method for assisting audiologists with fitting the proper hearing aid.

When Susan Scollie says millions, she means millions. The Communications Sciences and Disorders professor’s work inside Western’s National Centre for Audiology is helping millions of infants, children and adults hear a brand new world.

“People needed a good solution developed for fitting hearing aids on babies. We worked hard on that. It didn’t feel like pressure; it just needed to be done,” said Scollie, who leads the Child Amplification Laboratory Team.

Recently, WORLDiscoveries named Scollie its 2015 Innovator of the Year, as part of the inaugural Vanguard Awards, recently launched by the technology transfer and business development office for Western, Lawson Health Research Institute and Robarts Research Institute. The awards recognize local researchers, who, through partnership with WORLDiscoveries, have achieved various market-readiness milestones. Other researchers were acknowledged for their first innovation disclosure, first patent issued and first agreement signed.

After graduating from the Clinical Audiology Program, Scollie began working a number of years ago with Western professor emeritus Richard Seewald, employing the Desired Sensation Level (DSL) method. Originally developed by Seewald, this software, in conjunction with a standard hearing test, helps create a personalized hearing aid fit in infants and young children, as well as adults.

The DSL approach provides much more detailed information than standard hearing tests where the child wearing his/her hearing aids in a sound booth. This can take a long time and does not provide as accurate a measurement of the hearing aid’s characteristics.

“It’s not the physical hearing aids but the settings inside of them – setting them to be the right range for an individual is very important,” Scollie said. “You don’t know until you make all your measurements what that will be. I make measurements that are unique to you and carry those through DSL to the hearing aid.

“We focus on combining not just the test of your hearing, but also a specific measurement of your ear acoustics so those two things can be combined in a careful way.”

Ear canals shape sound as it passes through to the eardrum. Resonance causes certain frequencies to be enhanced or amplified by the ear canal. The amount of enhancement and the frequency range at which it occurs varies as a child ages.

These real ear measurements show what happens to sound in an individual’s ear canal without a hearing aid. Knowing all about how each individual’s ear shapes sound provides a more individualized hearing aid fitting, acting as kind of a ‘virtual ear’ for the DSL software, which then uses all of the information entered into it to generate targets for new hearing aids.

While an individual name may be on the award, Scollie said this is far from a solo project.

“You don’t have a product like this with just one person. This is an amazing and an incredibly special place to work,” she said. “This field is not stagnant; there is always something new. There has never been any time when we have said we were bored with this or there’s nothing new coming along. That conversation never happens around here.”

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2015 VANGUARD AWARDS

Recently, WORLDiscoveries named Communications Sciences and Disorders professor Susan Scollie as its 2015 Innovator of the Year, as part of the inaugural Vanguard Awards recently launched by the technology transfer and business development office for Western, Lawson Health Research Institute and Robarts Research Institute.

The awards recognize local researchers, who, through partnership with WORLDiscoveries, have achieved various market-readiness milestones. Other researchers were acknowledged for their first innovation disclosure, first patent issued and first agreement signed. They included:

First Innovation Disclosure

Yi Wen Xu , Mahta k. Tehrani, Douglas Fraser, Amy McMillan, Eddie Liu, Bryan Muscedere, Bekim Sadikovic, Alp Sener, Jeremy Cepek, Parsa Azizi, Gordon Osinski, Jean Filion, George Gadanidis, Bing Li, Seyyed Hesabgar and Abbas Samani;

First Patent Issued

Geoffrey Pickering, Zengxuan Nong, Matthew Frontini, Miodrag Grbic, Vojislava Grbic, Blaine Chronik, Jamu Alford, Hisham Hafez, Hesham El Naggar, Jayshri Sabarinathan, Aref Bakhtazad, Jeff Hutter, Rajini Patel, Anand Prakash, Qingping Feng, Xiangru (Sharon) Lu, Paul Arnold, Christopher Schlachta, Ana Luisa Trejos and Michael Naish; and

First License Agreement Signed

Qingping Feng, Xiangru (Sharon) Lu, Paul Arnold, Colin Henderson, Claire Temple-Oberle and Hesham El Naggar.