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Artificial Ears Appear to Improve Hearing & Speech Recognition

Outer ear (pinna) loss can result from cancer or trauma.  For aesthetic purposes, new artificial outer ears can be surgically placed.  Researchers believe that in addition to improving a person’s appearance, artificial (prosthetic) ears can help improve hearing and speech recognition in noisy environments.

The function of the outer ear is to collect sounds for the middle and inner ear to process.  People with outer ear loss may have difficulty hearing and understanding speech.  Researchers at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago used models to discover that artificial outer ears improved hearing and speech recognition in the presence of background noise.  The next step for investigators is to conduct similar tests on actual patients with artificial ears.

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