The man had been experiencing some of the telltale signs of hearing loss and was afraid he wouldn't be able to hear what was going on at the ceremony and later at the reception. But like many people he didn't want to be perceived as old by wearing a plainly visible hearing aid device.
Just days before the wedding, Parker inserted Lyric, the first 100 percent invisible extended wear hearing solution--about the size of a pencil eraser--into the patient's ear canal during a routine visit.
"He went to the wedding and no one knew he was wearing anything. He was able to enjoy himself and have a good time," Parker said during a visit to his practice last week.
"It's a nice feeling to have people come in and say, `I was able to do something because my hearing was better. I did not miss the things I wanted to do.'"
Parker, a Westport resident, pointed out that this particular patient is not alone in balking at the idea of a hearing aid. In fact, he said only 20 percent of people needing a hearing aid use one. That's why Parker is hosting an open house on April 29 to discuss the latest advances in hearing aid technologies, including Lyric. The event will take place at his office at 148 East Ave., Suite 2-I in Norwalk from 4 to 8 p.m.
"We really want to dispel a few myths about hearing aids. We are going to expose people to the latest technologies that are available. I think that a lot of people don't realize that there are some very innovative and easy things that can be used for hearing," Parker said. "When people picture a hearing aid a lot of times they picture a grandparent with this bulky thing that was hanging out of their ear that was always making sounds and didn't really work, and that the person always hated it.
"That was really the old style of hearing aid. But it's not the case now."
Hearing aids today are such advanced digital pieces of technology, especially when they are fitted properly and tuned up properly, according to Parker, that people won't want to take them out of their ears because they are so comfortable and work so well.
Parker said he is particularly impressed with Lyric because it does something that no hearing aid has ever done before--it allows the person who is wearing it to completely ignore it and not even realize that it is there. Lyric provides enhanced hearing capabilities and allows people to enjoy activities, such as biking, golfing, showering and sleeping without concern. It can be worn for up to three months at a time and there are no batteries to charge.
Attendees to the open house will be able to try Lyric at no charge for 30 days.
Parker's is just one of two practices in Connecticut now offering the device. It was developed by InSound Medical of Newark, Calif. The product has received rave reviews from providers and patients alike. It was recently showcased in "Popular Science" as one of the "Best of What's New" innovations of 2009. The device began its distribution in California in 2008 and has been making its way east.
"The company was looking for audiology centers and physicians that were working together," Parker said. "This is something that is really dispensed by a physician working with an audiologist. It isolated two practices in Connecticut that would serve its product well."
Another benefit to Lyric since it doesn't require batteries, Parker said, is it works well for people who have arthritis and can't use their hands well enough to put hearing aid batteries in.
"A traditional hearing aid does require batteries to be changed. In addition, a lot of older people can't see well enough to open up the hearing aid door and put the battery in. This goes in the ear for three months at a time and you don't have to think about it. And then you come in to have another one put in when the battery dies," he said.
Parker said Lyric is not for everyone because it doesn't not fit every ear canal--some are too narrow. InSound Medical is working on additional designs so Lyric can fit more people.
"But there are other devices that you can take in and out that are maybe slightly bigger than this, and they are still a far cry from what people identify as a hearing aid," he said.
Unlike other hearing aids that you purchase and own, Lyric is paid for on a subscription basis. The cost is $1750 per year per ear.
"It's more expensive than a traditional hearing aid, but it allows you get updated technology very quickly. Every three months when you come in for a replacement you get the most current version of it. So it's similar to taking a car into a showroom every three months and walking out with a new car with whatever features were added. They are constantly updating it and making it even more desirable. You're getting access to new technology without purchasing a new hearing aid every three months," Parker said.
At the end of the year you can renew the subscription to Lyric or decide its not for you. So far it has an 80 percent resubscription rate.
"It's not for every income level, but for the level of technology that it is and the level of convenience, people have responded well to it," Parker said.
Parker, whose office and exam rooms are decorated with old medical equipment like antique nasal atomizers and glassware, also loves antique hearing aids.
"Antique hearing aids are really interesting to me," Parker explained. "I have a collection that dates back to the civil war days, when a small funnel, shaped like a trumpet was held to the ear to help amplify sounds. The ones from the 1950s are very interesting, as they are intricately adorned art deco pieces that look like transistor radios designed to be worn on your body, and connect to an earpiece by a length of wire... kind of like an old-fashioned iPod.
"Knowing what was used in the past for hearing amplification reinforces to me how truly special Lyric's technology is," he said.
For information about Lyric or to make a reservation forthe Hearing Aid Technology Open House on April 29 call 203-EAR-NOSE.