- Published on 10 August 2019
Audiologists from Australia's Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital (RBWH) have helped update a recently developed app—HEAROES—designed to help new cochlear implant (CI) users adjust to their new sound environment.
Game-based and graphics-rich, the app also had support from eHealth Queensland. As a prototype, it won the 2018 eHealth Hackthon award for devices providing digital solutions to healthcare problems. It was designed by Elliott Miller, who himself received a CI in 2013, and thought hard about the adjustments any implant user must make to a new world of sound.
"Getting a cochlear implant is like being given the keys to a really fast car, with absolutely no idea how to drive it," explained Miller, who first hit on the app idea when jogging shortly after having his own CI switched on. He was hearing a jangling sound—the coins in his pocket—but couldn't identify it. Now the app is available from the usual download sites, iTunes and Google Play.
The Queensland Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services, Steven Miles, said the innovative Hearoes app was the first game-based offering of its kind. “We’re really proud to have supported the development of Hearoes through eHealth, which will revolutionise the onboarding process for patients and provide an accelerated learning journey,” said Miles.
Underlining the difficulties facing new CI users, RBWH audiologist, Carla Rose, stressed: “A hearing implant is not going to replicate natural sound, so it’s a new experience for every patient, no matter the circumstances behind their hearing impairment or previous hearing level.”
“Sound alerts us to our everyday environment including potential harm, and it’s a huge challenge to work out what even the most dissimilar sounds mean, such as a car backfiring and a child laughing,” she added.
Source: eHealth Queensland