Solar-powered hearing aids for children with impaired hearing in Vietnam: a pilot study.
BACKGROUND: Hearing loss is a barrier to speech and social and cognitive development. This can be especially pronounced in children living in low- and middle-income countries with limited resources. AIM: To determine the feasibility, durability and social impact of ComCare GLW solar-powered hearing aids provided for Vietnamese children with hearing impairment. METHODS: A retrospective review of data from an international, multi-discipline humanitarian visit was performed. Hearing aids were given to 28 children enrolled at the Khoai Chau Functional Rehabilitation School, Hung Yen Province, Vietnam. Device inspection and observational assessments were performed by teachers using a modified Parents' Evaluation of Aural/Oral Performance of Children and an Infant Hearing Program Amplification Benefit Questionnaire. Qualitative interviews were undertaken to assess the study aims. RESULTS: Hearing aids were well tolerated for use during regular school hours. All units remained functional during the study period (12 months). Teachers noted increased student awareness and responsiveness to surrounding sounds, but the degree of response to amplification varied between children. There was no significant improvement in speech development as all subjects had prelingual deafness. Teachers felt confident in troubleshooting any potential device malfunction. CONCLUSIONS: A solar-powered hearing aid may be a viable option for children in low- and middle-income countries. This study demonstrates that device distribution, maintenance and function can be established in countries with limited resources, while providing feasibility data to support future studies investigating how similar devices may improve the quality of life of those with hearing loss.
Vo, QT; Pham, D; Choi, KJ; Nguyen, UTT; Le, L; Shanewise, T; Tran, L; Nguyen, N; Lee, WT
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