Date of Award

Spring 2008

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Audiology (AuD)


School of Communication

First Advisor

Sheryl Shoemaker


The first purpose of this study was to assess the feasibility of a medical device to replace the current method of earmold production. The medical device would be used to scan the external ear (i.e., external auditory canal and pinna), scan the dimensions to an imaging software system, and finally send the three-dimensional image electronically to a milling machine for the production of earmolds and hearing aid shells. Currently, audiologists use an eight step process described by Dillon (2001) which due to the invasive nature of the procedure presents potential complications to both the clinician and client, The potential complications discussed are infection control, liability risks for audiologists, and bodily harm of clients. In addition, the current method presents much variability of the earmold or hearing aid shell fit causing a high return rate from clients and potentially poor quality control. The methodology of reverse engineering implemented in abrasive computer tomography imaging was hypothesized to be the most feasible method to eliminate or reduce the risks associated with earmold impressions. An image of the external ear would be captured via an infrared camera then sent to a computer with compatible imaging software. An infrared camera with crystal clear display (CCD) and Materialise' Rapid Shell Modeling (RSM) software were identified to be the necessary equipment.

The second purpose of this study was to determine an appropriate request for proposal for continued audiological research of the determined medical device. The Research Competitiveness and Industrial Ties Research Subprograms of the Board of Regents Support Fund Research and Development Program was the request for proposal selected. This type of grant, if awarded, provides a greater potential for studies to be awarded at the federal level. The Research Competitiveness Subprogram Proposal awards research that is innovative and conducted within a university which is a member of the Louisiana Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. This study meets the criteria delineated by the Louisiana Board of Regents.