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New hearing aid is music to teenager's ears

Image shows multiple photographs of a teenager with his hearing aid

A music-loving teenager can now hear his favourite tracks clearly for the first time thanks to the latest technology available within Swansea Bay.

Born profoundly deaf, Gethin Davies has become the first person in Swansea Bay to be fitted with one of the latest NHS hearing aids available – the Danalogic Ambio Smart.

The aids, which Gethin is currently trialling, have inbuilt connectivity, so he can wirelessly stream from a phone or Bluetooth device.

It means the 15-year-old can now hear music a lot clearer and even answer phone calls.

This is all done via an app, which also allows adjustments to be made to speech clarity, noise and directionality, helping Gethin focus on a particular sound without being cut off from other sounds around him.

The benefits don’t stop there either. A keen sportsman, his new aids reduce the risk of moisture affecting his hearing devices while he is competing in various sports.

Image shows a teenager with his hearing aid Having worn hearing aids since he was 11 weeks old, the new technology has provided Gethin with more independence.

Thanks to Sarah Theobald, head of audiology services, and Natalie Phillips, head of paediatric audiology, he now has the first hearing aid of its kind in the Swansea Bay area.

“I’m really proud of being the first person to have these new hearing aids,” said Gethin.

“I used to find it hard to hear conversations in busy environments such as the dining room, playground and during sports, where people are moving around.

“I’ve adapted to this over the years but more recently I found that using a mobile and listening to music was much harder as it took time to find headphones which would go over my hearing aids without causing a lot of feedback.

“I’d try to avoid talking on the phone other than using Facetime and would prefer to text.

“But I noticed that when I was competing in sport, the battery compartment of my aids was getting damp from sweat. This would sometimes result in the device switching off, which obviously is not great and really affected my enjoyment of it.”

That all changed following a recent hearing review with the audiology department at Singleton Hospital, who are now issuing the smart aid when it is required and suitable. 

Image shows two female colleagues standing outside a building “Hearing aid technology is constantly improving both in sound quality and in making hearing aids easier to use along with all of the other devices we now have in our life,” said Sarah.

“Hearing via a hearing aid will always have its challenges but each generation of hearing aids provides some benefit over the last, so it is great to be able to provide these improvements for our patients when they require a hearing aid upgrade.

“We use a number of different hearing aids which are available to account for the different types and degrees (mild to profound) of hearing loss.  Patient’s needs are considered, along with their degree of hearing loss to determine the suitable model.”

PICTURED: Natalie Phillips (left) and Sarah Theobald of Swansea Bay’s audiology department.

For Gethin, it means his enjoyment of sport and music, in particular, has considerably increased, along with benefiting his communication with family, friends and in school.

The hearing aids have, he says, made a big difference.

Gethin said: “They are amazing and I love being able to hear the singers and not just the bass when I’m playing music.

“These aids are more water resistant and I haven’t had any issues with them turning off during sport.”

Image shows a teenager using his mobile phone Gethin has attended the audiology department at Singleton Hospital since he was four, and has nothing but praise for the care and expertise he’s received for the past 11 years.

“I've had constant support from the audiology department - they've been brilliant throughout,” said Gethin.

“I must give a special mention to Sarah, who was my main audiologist until this year.

“Sarah has always been brilliant and has been very responsive to my changing needs over the years.

“Seeing the same audiologist most of the time makes things so much easier and I’m always at ease because I know her and she knows me.

“During the pandemic, I had a few issues with my aids and the department made it very easy to get things sorted out.

“I first met Natalie via a web-based consultation and then in person this year - she was really friendly and listened to my answers carefully and was able to offer suggestions and solutions to any issues I raised.

“I’m delighted with the department as a whole, and I’m thankful for what they’ve done for me.”

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