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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 38

Audiphone Among the Doctors

page 32

Audiphone Among the Doctors.

From E. C. Shoemaker, M. D.

The following is from Dr. Shoemaker's recent excellent volume, entitled "The Ear; Its Diseases and Injuries and Their Treatment," pages 359, 360, 361, 362

The Audiphone.

The Audiphone is an instrument invented by Richard S. Rhodes, of Chicago. It is made of hard rubber, in the shape of a fan, and is intended to convey sounds to the auditory nerve through the medium of the teeth. The external ear has nothing whatever to do in hearing with the instrument, which is represented in Figs. 39, 40 and 41.

Fig. 39.

Fig. 39.

Fig. 40.

Fig. 40.

Fig. 41.

Fig. 41.

Much has been claimed by the public press for the merits of this instrument. As the number of people deprived of the function of hearing is very large, it is but natural that any page 33 promise of relief by any means obtainable by such afflicted, would receive their earnest attention and inquiries, and if found practical would be regarded by them as a great boon.

In order to test the merits of this instrument, I have put myself to quite considerable expense and inconvenience, and even delayed the issue of this book that I might give its readers correct and reliable information on the subject from, my personal knowledge, obtained by a careful and impartial test of the instrument in a number of cases at my office. These cases, it will be observed from their history, have been judiciously selected for this purpose, and the results are given as follows:

Case I.

Deafness from Aural Catarrh, fifteen years' standing.—Mrs. H, aged 73, gradually lost her hearing fifteen years ago from aural catarrh. Deaf to all sounds in right ear. Left ear deaf to tick of watch, but hears vibrations of tuning-fork close by. Tuning-fork heard equally well on both sides when placed on the teeth. Can hear and understand words when spoken loudly a few inches from left ear, but can not distinguish sounds at a distance. Hears ordinary conversation quite well with the aid of the Audiphone, even at a distance of 12 feet, notwithstanding she wears artificial teeth.

Case II.

Deafness from Scarlet Fever, sixteen years' standing.—W. M., aged 18, deaf from scarlet fever since two years of age, both drumheads entirely destroyed by chronic uppur-ation of the middle ear. Deaf to ordinary conversation. Hears and understands when loudly spoken to close by-Hears much better with the Audiphone. Hears fairly well with this instrument 20 feet or more away.

Case III.

Deafness from Explosion of a Shell. Mr. K., aged 47, page 34 resident of this city, lost his hearing from an explosion of a shell during an engagement in the late war. Both drumheads are completely destroyed. Is quite deaf to the voice and all ordinary sounds. Can distinguish words when spoken very loudly, within six inches of his ear. Tuning-fork not plainly heard on his head, but more plainly on his teeth. Told me he had not heard the sound of any bell since 1864, when he received the injury. This statement seemed incredible, yet I regarded him as a truthful man. I immediately obtained an ordinary sized dinner bell, and rang it as loudly as possible by the side of his head, but he said he could hear no sound, but that he could feel the vibrations. I then handed him one of Mr. R. S. Rhodes' Audiphones (A No. 702), and directed him how to use the same, placing myself some five feet away. I then rang the bell and gradually approached him, and when about three feet away he expressed great joy at hearing the natural ringing sound. He also said "I can hear you talk and understand first rate what you say when I have this instrument against my teeth. I then placed myself at a distance of twenty feet from him, and spoke in an ordinary tone of voice, asking him several questions, and he answered them all correctly, He then said "I find I need not talk so loud as I hear very plainly what I myself say." Regarding this test very thorough, as well as very satisfactory in its results, I then took a seat some five feet from him, and engaged in a conversation with him, and in a rather low tone of voice, but still he understood every word. Here I may congratulate Mr. Rhodes on the success of his invention, and my patient on his good fortune in deriving such signal benefit from the same.

Case IV.

Deaf-Mutism caused by Cerebro-Spinal Meningitis.—J. S. aged 10, deaf since three years of age, from the effects page 35 of cerebro-spinal meningitis, and having been deprived of hearing so early in life is also dumb. On applying the tuning-fork on his head and teeth, he intimated he could hear. I then applied the Audiphone to his teeth, and he seemed to hear when spoken to. I then asked him to repeat the sound I made; being a bright boy, and taking much interest in his examination, I had no difficulty in getting him try to repeat any sound I made. Thinking it likely he only followed the motion of my lips or mouth, I had his eyes closed, and then repeated the sounds, which he as promptly endeavored to imitate, some even remarkably correct—leaving no doubt on my mind as to his hearing with the Audiphone.


The above cases were not consecutive, but fairly represent the result in a number of cases examined. I feel it my duty to say that I have met with several cases in which the Audiphone did not give entire satisfactory results, but I think the failures may very readily be accounted for in each case. One is that of a lady aged 68, of catarrhal deafness, the failure was altogether owing to the looseness of her artificial teeth, and in others to various causes plainly perceptible.

I may also mention that in all cases examined, other instruments of ancient and recent invention, were also tested or tried, but in no instance save one was any found as effectual as the Audiphone. I refer to the case of the lady with the loose artificial teeth. In this case the ordinary conversation tube was found the only available aid.


Having carefully and impartially tested the merits of the Audiphone as a means for aiding the deaf to hear, it affords me very great pleasure to say, that in my opinion, it is the best instrument for this purpose known to the science of otology.