Hearing Assessment for Children

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Play Audiometry

Play Audiometry or Conditioned Play Audiometry is a type of pure tone hearing test. It allows an audiologist to test the hearing of children who are aged around 3-7 years old developmentally. The child is conditioned to respond in play-oriented activities when a tone is heard. For example, the audiologist will condition a child to drop a toy into a bucket or drop a marble in marble track when the child hears a tone. This test will identify the degree, type, and configuration of hearing loss of a child.

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Visual Reinforcement Audiometry (VRA)

VRA is a hearing test for children aged between 6 months old to 3 years old. The child is trained to look towards a toy lights-up when he/she hears a sound stimulus. This test will identify the degree and configuration of hearing loss of a child.

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Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR)

ABR is an objective test that does not require cooperation from the testee. It is normally used to estimate hearing levels of very young children and infants or those who are unable to participate in behavioural hearing testing. Sedation is required for ABR recording. In this test, sounds are presented through an earphone or bone conductor while three small surface electrodes (which are normally placed on the forehead and behind the ears) pick up the responses from the cochlea and auditory nerve. A computer averages the responses and audiologist interprets the results. This test will estimate the degree, type and configuration of hearing loss of a young child.

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Otoacoustic Emission (OAE)

OAE tests the integrity of outer hair cells in the cochlea. During the test, a probe tip is placed in the ear canal. Signals are presented to the cochlea and an elicited low-level response is recorded. As the responses are very faint, it is important for the testee and the room to be very quiet. OAE tests can be used as a screening tool that delivers a PASS or REFER reading or a diagnostic tool for other purposes eg ototoxicity monitoring.

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Newborn Hearing Screening

Newborn hearing screening is a screening test conducted for newborn babies. Most hearing screening is done before a newborn is discharged from the hospital. The test is painless and quick. It identifies babies with permanent hearing loss as early as possible to afford earliest possible intervention. Detecting and treating hearing loss early will help the baby’s language, learning and social development. By international measures, newborns should be screened by 1 month of age, complete audiology assessment by 3 months of age, and begin intervention by 6 months of age.

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Tympanometry

Tympanometry assesses health of the middle ear. A probe tip is tightly inserted into the ear canal and air pressure is introduced. This test is not painful but some pressure will be felt when it is conducted. A computer will record the movement of the ear drum and the audiologist will interpret the results.

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