Innovative new hearing aid technology helps marathon runner achieve his dream

Hearing loss sufferer to take new technology to 'edges of the Earth' as part of charity desert crossing

With increasing attention being paid to the mobility aids and equipment that will help Paralympic athletes to achieve their dreams of a medal at London 2012, Siemens Hearing Instruments is doing its bit to help a hearing loss sufferer from Edinburgh.

Jamie Flanagan will test the new Aquaris hearing aids

The manufacturer has come to the rescue of marathon runner, Jamie Flanagan, developing a fully waterproof, dust proof and sweat proof digital hearing aid – The Aquaris.

Flanagan will use the device, the only one of its kind in the world, when he takes part in the first of five marathons, covering a total of 160 miles across the Egyptian desert in a bid to raise money for charity and demonstrate the ability of those suffering from hearing loss.

Previously a musician, he lost his hearing in 2000 as a result of Wengeners Granulomatosis, an auto-immune disease that also caused partial facial paralysis.

Left with mild to moderate hearing loss, he reluctantly left the music industry and turned his focus to running. He completed his first marathon in 2009 and now runs 100 miles and trains almost 20 hours a week in his bid to successfully cross the Ocean Floor in under 96 hours in Egypt next February.

My boring tedious, miles have become interesting with sound and my hearing instruments enrich my running

To date, he has never been able to run with a hearing instrument for fear of sweat damaging the electronics. Since he was fitted with Aquaris by Audio Hearing Services, an approved Siemens partner, he reports that for the first time he is able to hear traffic, other runners, and bikes, making his training safer and more enjoyable.

“My boring tedious, miles have become interesting with sound and my hearing instruments enrich my running,” he said. “For the first time in my life I am able to run with friends and it makes the world of difference over the long distances. I have been looking for a versatile hearing instrument that could cope with the dust, sweat and dirt that it will be subjected to while I run the marathons which started in Rome and end in the Egyptian desert. My Aquaris instruments have had to cope with wind, rain, sweat and a beach during a sandstorm - every time they come through unscathed!”

I never thought there would be a hearing solution that suited my active lifestyle and I’m delighted to take this exciting product to the edges of the earth and demonstrate that it is as tough as I am

Featuring a special casing with a sealed battery compartment, a watertight but air-permeable microphone membrane and protective cover, Aquaris is aimed at people who require a hearing instrument for an active life. It is ideal for running, swimming, mountain biking, or playing other sports and its housing protects the inside workings from damp, dirt, impacts and jolts, yet retains an ergonomic shape.

Flanagan said: “I never thought there would be a hearing solution that suited my active lifestyle and I’m delighted to take this exciting product to the edges of the earth and demonstrate that it is as tough as I am.”

He will be running his marathons as part of a fundraising effort for Vasculitis UK and Lauren Currie Twilight foundation charities.

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