Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Lyric

A new hearing aid called the Lyric by InSound Medical falls somewhere between a cochlear implant and a traditional hearing aid. Instead of implanting the device in the inner ear (like an implant), doctors place the Lyric deep inside the ear canal, about a sixth of an inch from the ear drum. The procedure does not require surgery or anesthesia. But it can be removed in just a few moments with the help of a small magnet. The Lyric can remain in the ear 24 hours a day and batteries can last as long as four months. The risk of infection is removed by placing a spongy material around it to allow moisture to escape. Users pay a yearly subscription fee of about $3000 for two devices (for each ear). About 15% of potential users will not be able to use them because of narrow ear canals. But for those who do, doctors say the result is more natural sound than traditional hearing aids because it does not need much amplification. About a dozen clinics are offering them in California, Florida and New Jersey are offering the Lyric now and by the end of the year 100 sites will do so. Johnson & Johnson is a major investor in the Newark, California company.

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