For hundreds of years devices have been used to help the hearing impaired. As early as the 1600s devices were made from sea shells, animal horns and then, in later years, from brass and copper. These early hearing instruments that were wide at one end to gather the sound and narrow at the other end to direct sound into the ear canal. They were described as ear trumpets because of the way they looked.
In the 1700s it was discovered that sound could be sensed as vibrations on bony surfaces of the skull so devices were placed behind the ear to help transmit these sounds.
In the 1800s devices were created that resembled tubes into which a person spoke at one end and the other end was placed in the ear of the person who was listening.
In the early part of the 20th century devices were developed that began to use electricity. This helped tremendously with the development of hearing devices that could amplify sounds and direct them into people’s ears. Some of the technology used by Alexander Graham Bell for the telephone was also used for these hearing aids. Sounds were amplified by using a carbon microphone and powered by batteries.
Over the years, batteries became smaller and transistors were developed that helped to miniaturize the devices, which improved helped sound quality.
The digital era has improved hearing aids even further both in quality of the sound and the size of the device. Hearing aids are now being used that fit in the ear canal and aren’t easily visible, making people less hesitant to wear them. While years ago hearing aids were used mainly by people who were hard of hearing, now they can be used for people who just need a little help to hear more clearly.
If you or someone you know is experiencing difficulty hearing, it is recommended that you speak with a physician who will make a referral to our audiology evaluation department. Please call 718-206-7001 for an appointment.
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