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Frankie’s Hearing Story

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Today on our blog, we’re excited to share Frankie’s story. Ready to start first grade, he was recently fit with a new Starkey Behind-the-Ear hearing aid. His mom sat down with us to talk about his hearing journey.

Frankie’s Mom: We were told that our son did not pass his hearing screening at the hospital when he was just a few days old. The doctors assured us that it was normal not to pass, explaining he may still have fluid in his ears from the placenta. We went back for follow-up testing when he was 3 months old. The test confirmed that he did have hearing loss in his left ear. In fact, it was moderately severe.

I remember going to that follow-up appointment feeling optimistic, but I left a crying mess. Learning Frankie had moderately severe hearing loss felt like someone punched me in the stomach. I worried that he would be teased for wearing a hearing aid and that he would fall behind his peers academically. I worried about him feeling different than his twin brother. I remember thinking that I had done something to cause his hearing loss during my pregnancy. I started to blame myself. I was just really scared.

When Frankie was almost four months old, we took him to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota for further diagnostic testing. After imaging, his doctors confirmed he had Large Aqua Duct Syndrome, which affected the hearing in his left ear. The doctor said this condition usually presents itself with hearing loss in both ears. We felt fortunate that in Frankie’s case, Large Aqua Duct Syndrome only effected the hearing in his left ear.

SHT: Tell us a little bit about his first hearing aid fitting.

Frankie’s Mom: You can see [below] that my husband chose MN Vikings colors for his little guy. In the picture, he is working with the occupational therapist through our school district. The therapist would bring different toys and tools to help Frankie progress in areas that would help his development continue. I really feel that getting him fit at a young age helped him accept his hearing loss and normalized wearing a hearing aid for him.

 

Now, when Frankie needs a new hearing aid, he looks forward to the fitting because he loves to pick the color of his ear mold. I love watching him, and it’s not always the color I would choose, but I make him feel like it was the best choice in the world.

SHT: What advice would you give other parents pursuing hearing healthcare for their child?

Frankie’s Mom: It is such a shock to hear a diagnosis that your child has hearing loss. For one, it opens up the fear of the unknown. And two, you just want to fix everything for these little people that you love so unconditionally. For me, timing was everything: I really had to wrap my brain around the reality. Once I did, it was smooth sailing.

Find a professional that gels well with your child. And before they start school, call your school district to see if they have professionals set aside to help your child. Then, just take one day at a time. There are amazing books about hearing loss at your public library that can teach your child to be advocates for themselves. Also, there are support groups for parents who are in the same boat.

I think the sooner you treat the hearing loss, the sooner it becomes “their normal” and they learn to advocate for themselves. Also, we were told it is very important for the nerves in the ear to be stimulated, so the sooner your child is fit the better.

SHT: What do Frankie’s friends think about his hearing aid?

Frankie’s Mom: The deaf and hard-of-hearing teacher in his school district gave Frankie’s kindergarten teacher a book about hearing loss to read to the class. The teacher said it was the most attentive the kids had been all year! They were so eager to hear about this super cool device that is in Frankie’s ear, and learn all about it, what it is and what it does. Frankie felt pretty cool after that.

When his classmates want to touch his hearing aid, he knows to tell them, “You can look, but I am the only one who can touch it.” He understands that his hearing loss is something that he will have for the rest of his life, which is hard to comprehend at six years of age. When kids at school ask, “why do you have that in your ear?” Frankie says, “My ear needs extra help to hear.”

SHT: Do you talk about your son’s hearing loss openly or do most people not notice his hearing aid?

Frankie’s Mom: We are so open about talking about his hearing loss because I think the vulnerable areas of your life provide the most connections with others. Frankie’s support team is so good at teaching him to advocate for himself. For example, in school, Frankie gets to sit right next to the teacher in circle time, with his good ear facing the teacher. He feels SO special because of this, and knows that is his seat. His twin brother has had huge fits about wanting to wear a hearing aid because he thinks it’s so cool.

Frankie loves to build with his Magformers and Legos. From an early age, this has always been a passion for him and he makes the most amazing creations, usually all from his imagination. He loves to play soccer, t-ball, skate and swim. I always make sure I tell the coaches about his hearing loss so they are aware that they might need to speak louder or make direct eye contact with him.

In school, he has been great at wearing the hearing aid, but when he is done for the day or needs a break, I let him take it out. We make sure to tell him he always needs to hand it to us right away, so we can keep it in a special place when he is not using it.

SHT: Tell us about his recent fitting with Starkey hearing aids

Frankie’s Mom: His audiologist recommended that we try a new hearing aid, made by a different manufacturer. She tested Frankie’s hearing with a few different brands to see which one would work best for Frankie. It was important for us to find a hearing aid that helped him understand speech in his aided ear, because his word recognition in that ear is only eight percent.

He understood speech the best with the Starkey hearing aid. His audiologist allowed us to try it for a few months. After the trial period, she tested his understanding of words with the Starkey hearing aid and he improved to 56%! We couldn’t believe it.

I always knew that word recognition — or speech understanding — was hard when his good ear was covered and he had to rely solely on his ear with the hearing loss. That’s why we are so excited that his speech understanding in his aided ear improved so much after he was fit.

SHT: Anything else you’d like to share?

Frankie’s Mom: Learning how to handle his hearing loss has been such an amazing discovery for myself and for my son. I am grateful that his hearing aid has helped him do well in kindergarten and socialize with his friends. He has enjoyed his summer and I can’t wait to see what amazing things lie ahead for my son this year school as he enters first grade.

We love stories like this! Contact South Suburban Hearing Health Center to create your own touching story. We would LOVE to help you!


Introducing iQ Hearing Aids

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Starkey Hearing Technologies is excited to announce a new line of hearing aids based on cutting-edge research in virtual reality, advanced neuroscience, and signal processing. This new line — called iQ — is designed to create a truly immersive hearing experience for wearers, one that delivers the presence, clarity and personalization wearers may have previously missed during the moments that matter most.

Our new iQ lineup includes Muse™ iQ, our 900sync™ technology wireless hearing aids; Halo® iQ, our smartphone-compatible hearing aid; and SoundLens Synergy iQ, our newest invisible-in-the-canal hearing aid.

Inspired by virtual reality research

Being truly present in the moment involves a sense of immersion — knowing where sounds are coming from to help you feel a part of your surroundings. iQ hearing aids help you do that with proprietary Acuity Immersion technology designed to:

  • Restore the natural benefits provided by the ear to improve speech audibility and spatial awareness.
  • Improve hearing directionality for a more natural, safer listening experience.

Spatial hearing is the brain’s early warning system, simultaneously sensing all the space around us and providing the feeling of connectedness. With Acuity Immersion, iQ wearers have the ability to localize sounds and reassert spatial perception.

iQ might be the most natural sounding hearing aids ever

The immersive quality of iQ hearing aids — combined with Starkey’s renowned industry-leading benefits like no whistling or feedback, superior speech detection, and automatic noise reduction — help people with hearing loss connect, hear and interact with everyday experiences as naturally and effortlessly as possible.

We’ve also added two new features that we know repeat hearing aid wearers will love:

  • Speech Indicators for memory – Instead of numbers or beeps telling you what memory you’re in, you hear descriptive names, like “Car”, “Home”, or “Outdoors.”
  • Smart VC – Allows for an increase in gain in all channels not already at maximum, to give wearers a desired increase in loudness when needed.

 

There’s an iQ hearing aid for every need and taste

Muse iQ and SoundLens Synergy iQ

Designed to provide high-quality, natural sound in even the most challenging environments, Muse iQ and SoundLens Synergy iQ hearing aids work with SurfLink wireless accessories to provide ear-to-ear streaming of calls, music and media, remote hearing aid control and a personalized hearing experience.

Muse iQ hearing aids are available in both custom and standard styles, and the Muse iQ micro RIC 312t is also available in a rechargeable option.

SoundLens Synergy iQ hearing aids offer wearers an invisible, custom fit hearing solution featuring Starkey Hearing Technologies most advanced technology and supreme sound quality.

Halo iQ and the NEW TruLink Remote

Halo iQ smartphone compatible hearing aids enable connectivity with iPhone, iPad®, iPod touch®, Apple Watch®, and select Android™ devices, providing the most natural audio experience yet, immersing you in the sounds of the things and places you love most.

A brand-new wireless accessory, the TruLink Remote, lets you control your Halo iQ hearing aids without needing to go through your smartphone.

To try our new iQ hearing aids, visit or contact South Suburban Hearing Health Center today!


Tinnitus Takes a Financial Toll!

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If you have tinnitus, you’re keenly aware of the impact it can have on your physical and mental well-being. Depending on the severity, tinnitus can affect your sleep and concentration, and cause depression and anxiety, among other things.

Tinnitus, sadly, also has financial repercussions for the people who suffer from it. The American Tinnitus Association notes that when adding up lost earnings, productivity and health care costs, individuals can lose “up to $30,000 annually” all thanks to ringing in the ears.

Help is available. Many of our Starkey hearing aids at South Suburban Hearing Health Centers, including the Muse, Halo 2 and SoundLens Synergy invisible hearing aids have tinnitus relief technology built into them. You can try this proven technology for yourself by contacting us today!


5 Reasons to Treat Hearing Loss

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So you’ve got a little hearing loss. What’s the big deal, right? It happens to almost all of us as we age.

FACT: 37.5 million Americans 18 and older have hearing loss, including one out of every three, 60 and older.

You can cope, you’ve decided. You’ll just turn the TV up a little louder. Ask people to speak up or repeat what they said. And hey, the quiet can be kind of nice, to be honest. “Why should I treat it,” you wonder?

Should you treat or ignore your hearing loss?

The decision to treat or ignore hearing loss should not be taken lightly. Why? Because hearing loss plays a significant role in many important issues that impact our quality of life, including five important ones:

  1. Mental health
  2. Physical health
  3. Income and career
  4. Personal safety
  5. Relationships and social interactions

Before you decide whether to ignore or treat your hearing loss, read what studies, health care experts, and hearing aid wearers themselves have to say about each choice.

Ignore or treat hearing loss — a side-by-side comparison

(1) Mental Health

Ignore hearing loss

Numerous studies link hearing loss to issues of mental decline, including increased anxiety and depression, accelerated brain shrinkage, and even dementia. One such study, by Johns Hopkins Medicine, tested volunteers with hearing loss over six years and found their cognitive abilities declined 30-40% faster than peers with normal hearing.

Treat hearing loss
Johns Hopkins’ researcher, Dr. Frank Lin, thinks that “if you want to address hearing loss well, do it sooner rather than later.” He recommends treating hearing loss before “brain structural changes take place.”

A separate study released in 2015 backs him up. In the study, scientists concluded that treating hearing loss by wearing hearing aids reduces the risk of cognitive decline associated with hearing loss.

FACT: Untreated hearing loss may result in serious long-term consequences to healthy brain functioning.

(2) Physical Health

Ignore hearing loss
The National Council on Aging notes that “falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans.” While no one knows how many falls are linked to hearing loss each year, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine have found that people with hearing loss are three times more likely to fall than those without hearing loss.

It’s thought that hearing loss may detract from environmental awareness, which increases the likelihood of tripping and falling.

Treat hearing loss
Recently, a study by the Washington University School of Medicine found that improving hearing through hearing aids appears to “improve balance in older adults with hearing loss” and helps reduce the risk of falls. Researchers credited the results to both increased alertness and improved balance.

(3) Income and Career

Ignore hearing loss

A study by the Better Hearing Institute quantified the impact of untreated hearing loss on the job. The study found that people with untreated hearing loss can see an income hit of up to $30,000 annually, and were nearly twice as likely to be unemployed as peers who wore hearing aids.

QUOTE: “Hearing loss was affecting my presentations and ability to service clients.” Chris T., Pennsylvania  

Treat hearing loss

That same study found that people who use hearing aids reduced the risk of income loss by 90 to 100 percent. It also reported that most hearing aid users in the workforce said wearing hearing aids has helped their performance on the job.

QUOTE: “Listening is SO important in my work, and I can now work better, more efficiently and more effectively because of my hearing aids.” Marty C., New York  

(4) Personal Safety

Ignore hearing loss

Studies aren’t needed to know that missed or misheard signals like car horns, alarms and other warning alerts can jeopardize a person’s safety. And it doesn’t always have to be one’s own. Adults caring for infants and young children need to know when their charge is crying or in distress. 

Treat hearing loss

Treating hearing loss with hearing aids enhances your awareness of your surroundings and can help ensure you hear every smoke detector, bike bell, emergency alert or distress call.

(5) Relationships and social interactions

Ignore hearing loss

More than anything, untreated hearing loss can lead to social isolation, as the challenges of listening and feelings of “missing out” often cause people to withdraw from the friends, family and activities that bring them joy.

This, alone, is significant, as social isolation is closely linked to numerous quality-of-life issues, including depression, illness, exhaustion and even shorter life spans.9

Treat hearing loss

Treating hearing loss with hearing aids enables you to hear, participate, and ensure you don’t miss out on the people and activities that make you happy. It’s as simple as that.

QUOTE: “I’m so glad I got hearing aids. It has truly been life changing!” Lesley P., California

South Suburban Hearing Health Center is here to help you treat your hearing loss! Contact us today to receive a hearing evaluation and find out what your options are.


“They’re not a stigma to me; they’re a superpower.”

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Recently, writers David Owen and Lloyd Alter chronicled their experiences with hearing loss and their Starkey hearing aids for The New Yorker and Mother Nature Network (MNN), respectively.

In The New Yorker piece, titled “High-Tech Hope for the Hard of Hearing,” Owen touches on his tinnitus — which he attributes to a cold, China and cabin pressure —before going deep into the causes of hearing loss and, ultimately, his quest to understand and treat his own hearing loss.

Owen’s quest leads him to Starkey — the only major hearing aid manufacturer based in the United States — and into a pair of Muse hearing aids. He writes:

“Each unit sits behind an ear, as my grandmother’s hearing aid did, but is so small that it’s all but invisible. A button on the part behind the ear allows me to choose among settings programmed by the audiologist. Two of them add a subtle tone that’s meant to mask my tinnitus, which during my hearing test she pinpointed at about six thousand hertz. 

My main reaction when I first put the hearing aids on was mild annoyance at the sound of my voice. I also became more aware of turning pages, creaking doors, and the surprisingly varied noises made by my pants. The audiologist said that people with new hearing aids get used to all that within about a month, as the brain adjusts.” 

While at Starkey, Owen also checks out our SoundLens Synergy, which “looks scarcely larger than the aspirin-size battery it runs on,” and Halo, Starkey’s “line with the most features.”

“Internet-connected wearables for your ears”

Halos — or more specifically, Halo 2s — are the hearing aids Alter wears and writes about in his MNN story, “Newest hearable will change the way people think about hearing aids.”

Alter, who has tried several different brands and styles of hearing aids since first needing them in 2012, writes that his Halo 2s are “more than just a serious upgrade. They’re more like ‘aural implants.’”

He refers to them as “hearables,” and correctly notes that “connected hearables are hot these days.” Why? Because they “do so much more than just help you hear.”

For Alter, his Halo 2s are his “default link to the audible internet,” thanks to their ability to connect seamlessly to his Apple iPhone, which enable him to make phone calls, listen to music and podcasts, and take advantage of notifications and alerts.

“As hearing aids,” he concludes, “these devices have changed my life by letting me hear the immediate world around me; as hearables, they are wiring me directly into a much larger world.”

Say goodbye to hearing aid stigma

Owen and Alter might wear different Starkey hearing aids, but both agree that the stigma of wearing hearing aids is coming to an end. “Once people start realizing that they do so much more than just help you hear, I suspect the stigma will disappear,” writes Alter.

Owen agrees. He points out that attitudes about being seen wearing hearing aids “may be changing … now that people of all ages walk around with electronic gadgets sticking out of their ears.”

Let South Suburban Hearing Health Center help you find your superpower! Contact us today!


Can staying active reduce the risk of hearing loss?!

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The Nurses’ Health Study II — a study of thousands of women conducted over the course of 20 years — wanted to see if body mass index (BMI), waist circumference and physical activity had any associations with hearing loss.

The study’s authors understood the negative effects of untreated hearing loss, noting how it “can impair communication and social interaction, and adversely affect psychosocial well-being and quality of life” — and they wanted to identify “modifiable risk factors” to help reduce the prevalence of hearing loss. This study focused on physical activity.

The study concluded that higher BMI and larger waist circumferences increased the risk of hearing loss, but that higher physical activity — including walking, swimming, aerobics and even lower-intensity exercise — was associated with reduced risk of hearing loss in women.

For more advice on reducing the risk or severity of hearing loss, consult South Suburban Hearing Health Center hearing professionals here.

 


What should you do if you have hearing loss?

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Most people who have hearing loss aren’t born with it. Instead, hearing loss is acquired, typically caused by exposure to loud noises, aging, or some combination of the two. For most, hearing loss is normal and natural — a tradeoff to living a long and fulfilling life.

Research shows human hearing is at its best between the ages of 18-25, and age-related hearing loss usually starts becoming noticeable around age 50. In fact, the prevalence of hearing loss doubles for every decade of life, which explains why one out of three people older than 60 have hearing loss, two out of three over 70 have it, and four out of five people 85+ have hearing loss.

You should test it.

If you’ve concluded you have hearing loss — either by exhibiting common signs, which you can find here, or by taking a quick and free hearing test, which you can find here — the good news is that help and treatment are readily available.

There are two options when it comes to dealing with hearing loss.

See what you should do if you have hearing loss. 

You should treat it.

Study after study have linked untreated hearing loss to an array of issues like depression, anxiety, increased risk of falls and hospitalizations, and even dementia. But doctors and scientists from institutions like Johns Hopkins Medicine and Columbia University have long noted that treating hearing loss can help, and that “hearing aid use has been shown to improve the social, functional and emotional effects of hearing loss.”

You should visit a professional who specializes in hearing healthcare.

When you are ready to deal with your hearing loss — and Johns Hopkins’ Dr. Frank Lin recommends treating it “before brain structural changes take place — you can start with your doctor or general practitioner (GP), who will most likely refer you to a hearing healthcare professional. Or, you can go directly to a hearing healthcare professional, like an otolaryngologist (ENT doctors), audiologist or hearing aid specialist.

 

What to expect at your appointment.

While not every practice or clinic will do things exactly the same, you should expect some common procedures when you go in for your first visit.

  1. Fill out paperwork — including intake papers with health history and hearing questionnaire.
  2. Complete a hearing evaluation — which typically includes a visual inspection of your ears and a hearing test in a sound booth.
  3. Review of your audiogram — the results of your test will be in the form of an audiogram, which is a graph that measures your specific hearing loss.
  4. Discussion of treatment and next steps — which may include a technology demonstration and hearing aid recommendation.

Hearing aids are successful in treating most hearing loss.

If hearing loss is confirmed during your appointment, hearing aids will most likely be recommended.Hearing aids are by far the most common way to treat hearing loss. They can help 90-95% of people who have hearing issues, especially if the hearing aids have been fit by an experienced professional, and programmed and customized to the individual’s unique hearing and lifestyle needs.

Not all hearing aids are the same.

Today’s hearing aids come in many styles and offer a range of advanced features.

There are “invisible” hearing aids that fit deep inside your ear canal — so small barely anyone can see them. There are hearing aids that sync to your iPhone, so you can take phone calls and listen to music, podcasts or videos wirelessly through your hearing aids — and even control and adjust your hearing aids remotely using your iPhone.

And the best of today’s hearing aids — Starkey’s new Muse and Halo 2 hearing aids — are the first to feature technology designed to make listening to music more enjoyable and natural than ever before.

The provider you pick will become your better hearing ally.

It’s important to pick a hearing healthcare provider you like and trust. The two of you will work closely together to get just the right hearing aids for you — which will be based on many factors including your degree of loss, personal style and feature preferences, how active you are, and more.

He or she will also be your go-to expert for better hearing tips and advice, hearing aid tune-ups and maintenance, or just to answer any questions you have about this important and wonderful sense.

Most importantly, the hearing healthcare professional you pick will become your better hearing ally — the person you can lean on to help ensure that your hearing loss never slows you down or prevents you from living a full and happy life.

Ready to proactively tackle your hearing loss? Contact South Suburban Hearing Health Center to schedule your first hearing consultation!


WebMD Confirms!

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We frequently tout the many benefits of wearing hearing aids — like improved relationships, increased confidence, reduced risk of cognitive decline and more — because we see and hear first-hand how hearing better changes a person’s life, and we want everyone with hearing loss to experience the same.

Now, a WebMD® study confirms it. Watch the short video below to see some of the key findings of WebMD’s recent study in which they asked hearing aid wearers and healthcare professionals who diagnose hearing loss what they think about hearing aids.

Let South Suburban Hearing Health Center help improve your life! Contact us today!

 


What is High-Frequency Hearing Loss?

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Although hearing loss varies by degree and type, high-frequency (or high-pitch) hearing loss is one of the most common configurations of hearing loss. Hearing professionals define high-frequency hearing loss as hearing loss that occurs between 2000 Hertz (Hz) – 8000 Hertz. Decreased hearing acuity in the high-frequency range is often the firstsign of hearing loss.

Following your hearing test, your hearing professional will explain your test results using an audiogram. An audiogram is a graph that displays how well you hear at each frequency, or pitch, which is important for speech understanding.

South Suburban Hearing Health Professionals test hearing between 250 Hz – 8000 Hz. Frequency is charted on an audiogram from left to right, starting with low frequencies to the left, and increasing in pitch as you move to the right, similar to a piano keyboard. An audiogram for high-frequency hearing loss shows hearing within the range of normal from 250 Hz – 1500 Hz, with results falling outside the range for normal hearing around 2000 Hz.

High-frequency hearing loss makes it challenging to understand speech

Individuals with high-frequency hearing loss have difficulty understanding speech in noise, and the voices of women and children, which are higher in pitch. Individuals with high-frequency hearing loss may also have difficulty hearing birds or the doorbell. Talking to family and friends over the telephone is also more challenging with high-frequency hearing loss.

High frequencies help with speech understanding, because fricative sounds like S, H, and F are high in pitch. When hearing in the low frequencies is normal, loudness is normal and vowel sounds can still be heard easily, but it’s easy to miss important high-frequency consonant sounds.

Tiny hair cells inside the cochlea process incoming sounds. High-frequency sounds are processed at the base of the cochlea, while low-frequency sounds are processed near the top. Hair cells at the base of the cochlea are more susceptible to damage than hair cells closer to the top, that’s why hearing loss often effects high frequencies before low frequencies.

Hair cells in the cochlea can be damaged by a number of factors, including: noise, age, ototoxic medications and disease. Age-related hearing loss and noise-induced hearing loss often effect the high frequencies first.

Hearing aids can help people with high-frequency hearing loss

Hearing aids are an effective treatment option for high-frequency hearing loss. Open fit hearing aids, and custom hearing aids with large vents leave the ear open to maximize normal hearing in the low- and mid-frequency ranges, amplifying only the frequencies affected by the hearing loss.

Cutting-edge technology processes speech differently than noise and can help reduce the listening fatigue commonly associated with high-frequency hearing loss. There are many options available to correct high-frequency hearing loss. Your hearing professional will work with you to find the best option for you.

Contact South Suburban Hearing Health Center today to see what your hearing levels are at! We can’t wait to hear from you!


Hearing Loss is Very Common!

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According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, hearing loss is so common, it affects more people than all other physical conditions except arthritis and heart disease.

That’s a lot of people with hearing loss. But considering the likelihood of hearing problems doubles for every decade you live, it’s maybe not as surprising as it first sounds.

To see more hearing loss data, check out Starkey’s Hearing loss by the numbers infographic.

If you think you might have hearing loss but aren’t certain, give us a call!


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