WO2006007632A1 - A method for diagnostic home testing of hearing impairment, and related developmental problems in infants, toddlers, and children - Google Patents

A method for diagnostic home testing of hearing impairment, and related developmental problems in infants, toddlers, and children Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2006007632A1
WO2006007632A1 PCT/AU2005/001035 AU2005001035W WO2006007632A1 WO 2006007632 A1 WO2006007632 A1 WO 2006007632A1 AU 2005001035 W AU2005001035 W AU 2005001035W WO 2006007632 A1 WO2006007632 A1 WO 2006007632A1
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Prior art keywords
means
method
sound
young child
audio
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Application number
PCT/AU2005/001035
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French (fr)
Inventor
Janusz Nowosielski
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Era Centre Pty Ltd
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Priority to AU2004903912 priority Critical
Priority to AU2004903912A priority patent/AU2004903912A0/en
Application filed by Era Centre Pty Ltd filed Critical Era Centre Pty Ltd
Publication of WO2006007632A1 publication Critical patent/WO2006007632A1/en

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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61BDIAGNOSIS; SURGERY; IDENTIFICATION
    • A61B5/00Detecting, measuring or recording for diagnostic purposes; Identification of persons
    • A61B5/68Arrangements of detecting, measuring or recording means, e.g. sensors, in relation to patient
    • A61B5/6887Arrangements of detecting, measuring or recording means, e.g. sensors, in relation to patient mounted on external non-worn devices, e.g. non-medical devices
    • A61B5/6896Toys
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61BDIAGNOSIS; SURGERY; IDENTIFICATION
    • A61B5/00Detecting, measuring or recording for diagnostic purposes; Identification of persons
    • A61B5/12Audiometering Evaluation or the auditory system, not limited to hearing capacity
    • A61B5/121Audiometering Evaluation or the auditory system, not limited to hearing capacity evaluating hearing capacity
    • GPHYSICS
    • G09EDUCATION; CRYPTOGRAPHY; DISPLAY; ADVERTISING; SEALS
    • G09BEDUCATIONAL OR DEMONSTRATION APPLIANCES; APPLIANCES FOR TEACHING, OR COMMUNICATING WITH, THE BLIND, DEAF OR MUTE; MODELS; PLANETARIA; GLOBES; MAPS; DIAGRAMS
    • G09B5/00Electrically-operated educational appliances
    • G09B5/06Electrically-operated educational appliances with both visual and audible presentation of the material to be studied

Abstract

The present invention relates to a method of detecting hearing impairment and related learning difficulties in a young child, the method including: A hand-held sound storage and emitting device (1), the device including a plurality of selectively digitally stored testing sounds calibrated in specific predetermined filtered frequency and intensities adapted to emit filtered bandwidths over low, medium and high frequencies, wherein the sounds are selected from a range of stimuli such as complex environmental sounds associated with recognisable objects including picture/word cards, toy objects and the like; An image display means (6) including a plurality of pictorial representations of the recognisable objects (5); The method including maintaining the hand-held sound storage and emitting device within a measured distance (3) from a young child to be tested (4); selecting a predetermined object sound corresponding to one of the pictorial representations on the image display; actuating sound emission, wherein hearing impairment of the young child to be tested (4) is objectively measured by observing the young child associating the selected object sound with one of the plurality of pictorial representations (5) corresponding to the object sound by audio/visual recognition, the method steps being repeatable for pre-filtered sounds at selected frequencies within filtered bandwidths.

Description

A Method for Diagnostic Home Testing of hearing impairment, and related developmental problems in infants, toddlers, and children.

Field of the Invention:

The present invention relates to a convenient system for early detection of hearing impairment and general learning difficulties in young children. In particular the present invention relates to a convenient diagnostic test system for use by parents or teachers of infant children to assist in early detection of hearing impairment and concomitant developmental difficulties in young children and infants at Home, Child Care Centres and Kindergartens.

Background of the invention

To date, statistical data relating to infant/child hearing, impairment establishes that the average age of an infant child brought before a practising clinician is about two (2) years of age. It is generally understood that any delay, for example one (1) month, in correcting a hearing deficiency may translate to at least a one (1) year delay in early childhood general development. It is critical therefore to detect hearing impairment as early as possible to substantially minimise such delay.

Early detection of hearing impairments in very young children represents a great challenge for the clinicians despite significant advances in technology. Current clinical methodology limits the conduct of hearing testing to specialised centres or requires a specially planned visit by qualified specialists to carry out such testing at Child Care Centres, Kindergarten but rarely at individual homes. This imposes a high cost on testing and poor screening efficiency limiting the tests application only to a part of the infant population.

Without effective population-wide government initiated screening programs, many infant children suffer for long periods with undiagnosed hearing impairment, which manifests itself in longer-term symptomatic learning difficulties identifiable at a school age by teachers. Apart from the cost to tax payers for general health screening services, by the time hearing impairment is diagnosed as a route cause of school age childhood learning difficulties, the child has been exposed to learning difficulties, and correction may involve use of a hearing aid or more probably involve surgery to insert a cochlear implant. While cochlear implants address the immediate problem, early detection and treatment may substantially avoid the need and expense of later and more severe corrective treatments. It should be noted however that such later treatments do not provide a practical means for addressing the learning difficulties experienced by infant children if hearing impairment is left undiagnosed.

Clinical testing of infant children also suffers from a number of disadvantages primarily because a young child is not familiar with a strange clinical environment. This can lead to easy distraction^ and lack of co-operation with the tester and tests per se may be inconclusive or not possible to complete in one visit, thus requiring repeat visits and further cost

It is an object of the present invention to address one or more of the disadvantages of the prior art. It is a further object of the present invention to provide an improved system for use in early detection of hearing impairment in young children, to allow auditory screening of infants and young children by parents and/or teachers at home, child care centres and kindergarten. A further object is to provide a device for use by parents and/or teachers of infants and young children to enable non-professional use, at home or at child care and the like, and early detection of hearing loss or impairment. An even further object of the present invention is to provide an improved system for use in early detection of hearing impairment in infant children, which can be used by parents or teachers in a familiar environment and also provide diagnostic testing of related learning, cognitive, motor skill and other skills. An even further object of the present invention is to provide an improved system for early detection of hearing impairment in young children by parents or teachers at home or at a teaching facility.

Summary of the Invention

In accordance with a first aspect of the invention there is described a method of detecting hearing impairment and related learning difficulties in a young child, the method including: providing a home operable diagnostic system having: a hand-held sound storage and emitting device, the device including a plurality of selectively digitally stored testing sounds calibrated in specific predetermined filtered frequency and intensities adapted to emit filtered bandwidths over low, medium and high frequencies, wherein the sounds are selected from a range of stimuli such as complex environmental sounds associated with recognisable objects including picture/word cards, toy objects and the like;

an image display means including a plurality of pictorial representations of the recognisable objects;

the method including maintaining the hand-held sound storage and emitting device within a measured distance from a young child to be tested; selecting a predetermined object sound corresponding to one of the pictorial representations on the image display; actuating sound emission, wherein hearing impairment of the young child to be tested is objectively measured by observing the young child associating the selected object sound with one of the plurality of pictorial representations corresponding to the object sound by audio/visual recognition, the method steps being repeatable for pre-filtered sounds at selected frequencies within filtered bandwidths.

In case of testing infants, a tester can observe in infants reaction such as turning head and/or eyes towards the sound source. In the case of older children, they generally will be expected to perform a specific task so as to correlate the sound with a specific image from a plurality of images, picture/word cards, toy objects and the like.

The method of the invention allows parents, carers or teachers at Home, Child Care Centres and Kindergartens or schools to detect early hearing problems and to monitor the hearing status in young children. As a consequence, learning difficulties associated with hearing impairment can be substantially avoided by suitable treatment as early as possible. Furthermore such diagnostic testing at home not only extends screening of infant children for hearing loss but has the potential to avoid the need for later surgery to treat hearing deficiency and compounding problem associated with hearing deficiency. Even further the present invention allows hearing testing of an infant child in a familiar environment with appropriate testing stimuli. In a related aspect of the invention there is described a method for early detection of hearing impairment and related learning difficulties in a young child, the method including: providing a home operable diagnostic system having: a hand-held sound storage and emitting device, the device including a sound emitter, a power source; a memory means for digital storing a plurality of pre- filtered sounds calibrated in specific predetermined filtered frequency and intensities, the sounds being selected from complex environmental sounds corresponding to recognisable objects; means for selecting one or more of the plurality of pre-filtered sounds, and a means for converting the digitally stored sounds into an analogue signal adapted to be delivered to the sound emitter; and

an image display means including a plurality of pictorial or object representations of the recognisable objects;

wherein the device is held by a parent, carer, or teacher and the like at a predetermined distance from a child's ear such that when a predetermined sound is actuated, the child's hearing ability is able to be measured by observing the young child body reaction or whether the child recognises an association between the selected object sound with one of the plurality of pictorial/word cards or objects representation such as toys corresponding to the object sound by audio/visual recognition.

The hand-held sound storage and emitting device can be a sound module in which a plurality of predetermined filtered sounds of narrow bandwidth frequencies can be stored and selected for testing. The hand-held sound storage and emitting device can alternatively be a mobile phone, which includes software to enable downloading of suitable sounds and pictures from a mobile phone network or Internet or other external source.

hi one embodiment of the invention, the method of testing can be self-performed by the child using a mobile phone in which the mobile phone can include software programs to download an unlimited amount of object sounds and corresponding pictorial representations that can be selected by a person to be tested; correlation programs and results assessment programs wherein images of objects such as animals can be displayed on the mobile screen and different sounds are presented, wherein a child can press a button if or when the sound is associated with the correct object image displayed. In this embodiment the assessment program can assign a PIN number manually or automatically for a test person to collate the information and issue a result, which can be transferred to a network database.

According to the invention the hearing test performed with the proposed devices is not limited by the amount of time usually restricted in the specialised Hearing Centres and the test can be repeated many times as needed when the child is relaxed and cooperative. The image display can be a range of cards on which there is displayed indicia corresponding to each one of the plurality of predetermined filtered sounds. In this case the method of the invention is found to be both stimulating and educational for the young child. For instance the child may be able to learn to correlate sounds with particular objects. In addition to hearing testing, the present method can be used to assess related parameters such as but not limited to 'listening skills, correlation skills, physical co-ordination skills, and reaction times, which can be measured accurately by the mobile phone programming software. These other parameters are generally associated with a child's ability to hear, but may also be symptomatic of other problems. When a test according to the present method shows some deficiency, this can be reported and referred to an appropriate specialist for further evaluation and/or treatment.

According to the invention the hearing test performed with the sound modules or the mobile phone and with the set of the picture/word cards creates a listening and educational game that is fun and appealing to children.

The sound modules produce a special complex environmental sounds like animal voices, motor bikes, cars, machines etc., noises which are restricted to the specific acoustic frequency spectrum. The number of individual sound modules or one module with multiple sounds, produce the sounds with the acoustic spectrums of the low, medium and high tones, necessary for the child speech development and every day communication.

The sound intensity produced by the sound module or the mobile phone at the entrance of the child's ear is intensity calibrated for the predetermined distance between the sound module and the child's ear. The tester holds the sound module at the predetermined distance and activates the module to produce the sound. At the same time when testing an infant, the tester observes the child's reaction typically manifested by the child's head and/or eyes movement towards the source of the sound. By repeating this procedure for each ear using the set of various frequency spectrum sounds, the tester can reconstruct the child's audiogram and early detect the hearing problem. Therefore, he can arrange for an early medical intervention and hearing rehabilitation to support the child normal development.

Alternatively, the output of the sound module is connected to the calibrated earphone placed onto the child ear or to the calibrated insert earphone plugged into the child's outer ear canal.

In another embodiment of the invention the older child is provided with a set of picture/word cards of animals or various noise makers like motor bikes, cars, machines, toy objects etc., familiar to the child and the sound module or modules are used to produce the sounds of these animals or the noise-makers.

During the test the child has to point to the picture of the particular noise-maker when this maker calibrated in intensity and in frequency sound is presented to the child's left or right ear at the predetermined distance. During this procedure the child has to correlate the sound with the picture /word card or toy objects produced by the sound module's sound emitter. Correct and incorrect child responses allow the tester to find out which sounds the child can or cannot hear and therefore to assess the child hearing status.

For older children who can read, instead of the picture cards the word cards can be used and the child has to also point to the card. Alternatively, instead to point to the card, the child can say the name of the noise-maker when it's noise is presented to the child by the sound module.

hi another embodiment, the testing sounds like animal voices or noise makers sounds like motor bikes, cars, machines and the like and their pictures are factory stored in the mobile phone memory or loaded into this memory or updated from the mobile phone network, Internet or the external device for the purpose to perform the hearing test. The testing sounds are delivered to the child's ear through the calibrated earphone placed onto the ear or plugged into the ear canal and connected to the mobile phone output or from the mobile phone acoustic output or external speaker placed at the predetermined distance from the child's ear.

hi this test, the child listens to the testing sound produced by the calibrated acoustic output of the mobile phone and has to correlate this sound with the picture card of the particular noise-maker shown on this card or displayed on the mobile phone screen or on the externally connected monitor or TV set screen.

For older children who can read, the word cards can be used or the name of the noise- maker can be displayed on the mobile phone screen or externally connected screen.

When the picture or word cards are used, the child has to point to the card and the correct or incorrect child responses are assessed by the person conducting the test, who can enter through the mobile phone key pad the results of each test sequence, to compile by the mobile phone program the final report following the test instructions stored in the mobile phone memory or loaded from the network, Internet or external device.

When the pictures or names of the noise makers are displayed on the mobile phone screen placed in the front of the child and the testing sound comes from the mobile phone acoustic output or connected to this phone external speaker, then the untested ear is plugged with the earplug or firmly covered with the palm of the hand to test only one ear at the time. If the binaural headset or insert earphones are used then the earplug is not needed.

After the testing sound presentation, the child has to push one of the specially assigned "yes" or "no" keys of the mobile phone keypad or additional buttons or the buttons on the external control unit connected to the mobile phone, and the correlation is done automatically by the mobile phone microprocessor following the test instruction stored in the mobile phone memory.

Alternatively, such correlation can also be done by the built in or externally connected to the mobile phone the voice recognition device. In this case when the child hears the testing sound he/she is required to speak the name of the animal or the noise maker and the voice recognition device will analyse the child verbal answer and provide the microprocessor with the results of this analysis to make the automatic correlation with the data representing the noise-maker name stored in the mobile phone memory.

The hearing test instructions can be factory stored in the mobile phone memory or loaded and updated from the mobile phone network, Internet or external device.

Every time the child will press one of the answering keys or will speak the noise-maker name when the voice recognition device is used? the hearing test is automatically advanced to present the next testing sound following the test instructions. Alternatively, the test sequence can be manually advanced by pressing the mobile phone special advance key or by the external device connected to the mobile phone and operated either by the child or another person. When the voice recognition device is used, the speech hearing test can also be conducted, hi this case, the child has to repeat the words stored in the mobile phone memory and produced one by one by the mobile phone output. The child correct and incorrect answers are recognised by the voice recognition device following the test instructions stored in the mobile phone memory or loaded from the network, Internet or external device.

Correct and incorrect test results both for the environmental and speech sounds are stored during the test in the mobile phone memory following the test instructions for the purpose to make the final test report which can be displayed on the mobile phone screen, printed by the external printed or sent by the mobile pone network to the remote location.

Brief Description of the Drawings

The invention is further explained and illustrated by reference to the accompanying drawing in which:

Fig. 1 is a simplified diagram of the educational listening game setup in accordance with the present invention.

Detailed Description of the Preferred embodiment with respect to the drawings. Referring to the accompanying drawings, there is shown in figure 1 a representation of an application of the method in accordance with the invention. Figure 1 illustrates a method for early detection of hearing impairment and related learning difficulties hi a young child by means of a home operable diagnostic system having.

An young child is shown seated at a table on which there is displayed a raft of cards 5 each of which carry indicia representing images of environmental objects of material interest to the child such as a cow, a dog, a pair of birds, and a rooster. As can be seen, a parent 2 or teacher or the like holds a sound module 1 at a distance 3 from the child's ear

4.

The sound module 1 includes a speaker, a power source; a memory means for storing a plurality of pre-filtered digital sounds calibrated in specific predetermined filtered frequency and intensities, the sounds being selected from complex environmental sounds corresponding to recognisable objects; means for selecting one or more of the plurality of pre-filtered sounds, and a means for converting the digitally stored sounds into an analogue signal adapted to be delivered to the sound emitter. In figure 1 the sound module has three pre-filtered stored sounds calibrated at specific predetermined filtered frequency bandwidths and intensities to cover low, medium and high frequency spectrums. The sounds are selected from complex environmental sounds corresponding to recognisable objects displayed on the cards 5 such as a cow, a dog, a pair of birds, and a rooster.

In applying the method of the invention, the child's parent 2 holds the sound module or mobile phone at a distance form the child's ear. The parent or observer actuates a predetermined sound by pressing an actuator button to produce one of a number of sounds stored on memory. Once the sound is emitted, the child's hearing ability is able to be measured by observing whether the child recognises an association between the selected object sound with one of the plurality of picture/word cards or toy objects or display on a mobile phone screen on which there is displayed indicia corresponding to the object sound by audio/visual recognition.

Claims

Claims Defining the Invention:
1. A method of detecting hearing impairment and related learning difficulties in a young child, the method including:
providing a home operable diagnostic system having: a hand-held sound storage and emitting device, the device including a plurality of selectively digitally stored testing sounds calibrated in specific predetermined filtered frequency and intensities adapted to emit filtered bandwidths over low, medium and high frequencies, wherein the sounds are selected from a range of stimuli such as complex environmental sounds associated with recognisable objects;
an image display means including a plurality of pictorial representations of the recognisable objects including picture/word cards, toy objects and the like images;
the method including maintaining the hand-held sound storage and emitting device within a measured distance from a young child to be tested; selecting a predetermined object sound corresponding to one of the pictorial representations on the image display; actuating sound emission, wherein hearing impairment of the young child to be tested is objectively measured by observing the infant child associating the selected object sound with one of the plurality of pictorial representations corresponding to the object sound by audio/visual recognition, the method steps being repeatable for pre-filtered sounds at selected frequencies within filtered bandwidths.
2. A method for early detection of hearing impairment and related learning difficulties in a young child, the method including: providing a home operable diagnostic system having: a hand-held sound storage and emitting device, the device including a sound emitter, a power source; a memory means for digital storing a plurality of pre- filtered digital sounds calibrated in specific predetermined filtered frequency and intensities, the sounds being selected from complex environmental sounds corresponding to recognisable objects; means for selecting one of more of the plurality of pre-fϊltered sounds, and a means for converting the digitally stored sounds into an analogue signal adapted to be delivered to the sound emitter; and
an image display means including a plurality of pictorial representations of the recognisable objects;
wherein the device is held by a parent, carer, or teacher and the like at a predetermined distance from a child's ear such that when a predetermined sound is actuated, the child's hearing ability is able to be measured by observing whether the young child recognises an associating between the selected object sound with one of the plurality of pictorial representations corresponding to the object sound by audio/visual recognition.
3. A method of detecting hearing impairment and related learning difficulties in a young child in accordance with claim 1 wherein the hand-held sound storage and emitting device is a mobile phone.
4. A method of detecting hearing impairment and related learning difficulties in a young child in accordance with claim 1 wherein the image display means is a set of cards on which there is displayed indicia of recognisable objects corresponding to each predetermined sound.
5. A method of detecting hearing impairment and related learning difficulties in a young child, the method including: providing a mobile telecommunication means for performing hearing, the mobile telecommunication means including: a portable receiver having an audio emitter and or video display able to be calibrated to provide definable audio and or video emissions; a communication means allowing communication by telephone, internet, email or other means between a source and the receiver; a processing means for receiving test instructions of a hearing test from the source, the test instructions including representations of defined audio emissions wherein the processing means instructs the calibrated audio emitter to emit audio emissions, and a video display to display pictures or images associated with the testing sounds; wherein the mobile telecommunication means is at a predetermined distance from the child's ear such that when a predetermined sound is actuated, the child's hearing ability is able to be measured by observing whether the young child recognises an associating between the selected object sound with one of the plurality of pictorial representations corresponding to the object sound by audio/visual recognition.
6. A method of detecting hearing impairment and related learning difficulties in a young child according to claim 5 wherein the test instructions includes representations of a plurality of predefined audio and or video emissions which are to be sequentially emitted to provide a predefined test sequence including variation of frequency, intensity, gradation or tonality that provides a scientific hearing or vision test.
7. A method of detecting hearing impairment and related learning difficulties in a young child according to claim 5 or 6, wherein the test instructions are factory stored or loaded into a local source being the mobile phone memory.
8. A method of detecting hearing impairment and related learning difficulties in a young child according to claim 5 or 6, wherein the test instructions are able to be updated from a remote source by the communication means including by any one or more of mobile phone network or Internet or an infrared link, ultrasound link or cable from external sources.
9. A method of detecting hearing impairment and related learning difficulties in a young child according to any one of claims 5 to 8, wherein the mobile telecommunication means includes an input means for recording response to the emitted to the representations of defined audio and or video emissions of the test instructions to provide a result of the hearing test and output means for outputting result.
10. A method of detecting hearing impairment and related learning difficulties in a young child according to claim 9 wherein the output means is connected to communication means to provide results to remote location.
11. A method of detecting hearing impairment and related learning difficulties in a young child according to any one of claims 9 or 10 wherein the output means includes audio and or visual output by the receiver for outputting the result.
12. A method of detecting hearing impairment and related learning difficulties in a young child according to any one of claims 9 to 11 wherein the test instructions include optional sequences which are instigated according to result received by the input means for recording response to the emitted defined audio and or video emissions of the test instructions to provide an automatic change of the acoustic test stimuli frequencies and intensities.
13. A method of detecting hearing impairment and related learning difficulties in a young child according to any one of claims 5 to 12 wherein the audio emitter of the portable receiver includes direct emission means for maintaining calibrated sound to the ear of the user wherein the plurality of the acoustic test stimuli of test instructions calibrated in frequency and intensity by the receiver are delivered from the mobile telecommunication means output directly to the ear by the insert earphone, tube-phone, supra ear coupler, insert ear coupler, mobile phone speaker or externally connected speaker placed at the specified distance from the tested ear in sound field conditions.
14. A method of detecting hearing impairment and related learning difficulties in a young child according to claim 13 wherein the direct emission means includes an identity means, such as a special number or bar code, providing obtainable identifiable audio characteristic data to maintain precise audio calibration together with the receiver of the mobile phone.
15. A method of detecting hearing impairment and related learning difficulties in a young child according to claim 14 wherein the obtainable identifiable audio characteristic data is directly entered through the keypad of mobile telecommunication means.
16. A method of detecting hearing impairment and related learning difficulties in a young child according to claim 15 wherein the obtainable identifiable audio characteristic data is obtained by the identity means and feedback from a remote source by the communication means linked to a network to calibrate the mobile phone receiver together with the direct emission means.
17. A method of detecting hearing impairment and related learning difficulties in a young child including: providing a mobile telecommunication means for controlling an audio or video outputting device, the mobile telecommunication means including; a portable receiver having an audio emitter and or video display able to provide definable audio and or video emissions; a communication means allowing communication by telephone, internet, email or other means between a source and the receiver; a processing means for receiving control instructions of a hearing and or vision operating means from the source, wherein the processing means instructs the audio emitter and video display to emit audio and video emissions substantially precisely according to the representations of defined audio and video emissions of the control instructions to control operation of a hearing and vision operating means; wherein the mobile telecommunication means is at a predetermined distance from the child's ear such that when a predetermined sound is actuated, the child's hearing ability is able to be measured by observing whether the young child recognises an associating between the selected object sound with one of the plurality of pictorial representations corresponding to the object sound by audio/visual recognition.
18. A method of detecting hearing impairment and related learning difficulties in a young child according to claim 17, wherein the control instructions are factory stored or loaded into a local source being the mobile phone memory.
19. A method of detecting hearing impairment and related learning difficulties in a young child according to claim 17 or 18, wherein the control instructions are able to be updated from a remote source by the communication means including by any one or more of mobile phone network or Internet or an infrared link, ultrasound link or cable from external sources.
PCT/AU2005/001035 2004-07-16 2005-07-15 A method for diagnostic home testing of hearing impairment, and related developmental problems in infants, toddlers, and children WO2006007632A1 (en)

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