ThinkLabs electronic steth for hearing probs

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    Has anyone heard of the Think Labs fully electronic stethescope? They visualize heart rate, the volume is adjustable, ect. Don't know alot about it, but I have some hearing problems. Right now I am using Littmans 3M 3000 electronic one. It is very nice and after much research I ended up buying it. My only complaint is the type of hearing loss I have is where I don't pick up low sounds (versus high pitched sounds) and this is often what is auscultated from the heart and lungs primarily. I don't want to miss anything and my stethescope's volume is up full blast. I suppose I need one where the volume can be adjusted just a little higher. If anyone has any suggestions for a stethescope that may beat the one I have, please let me know

    shhnack

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  2. 7 Comments...

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    There are a variety of electronic stethescopes.

    www.allheart.com has several.
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    I think that the one from littman is 18x natural sound and thinklabs is 50x natural sound. Thinklabs is on my list to buy when my threshold changes, that is, if I don't get hearing aids at that point and buy a cardionics to go with that setup.
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    Thanks for the input on ThinkLabs stethescope, not sure exactly what you mean about 18x and 50x natural sound? Have you heard through either one of them yet?
    Thanks again!

    shhnack
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    I have mild-moderate hearing loss and a thinklabs stethoscope and have been very happy with it. I'm still just a student, but I don't think I would have made it this far without it. from my understanding it has more amplification than the littman, but the sound quality on the littman may be a bit better. I have to turn the volume all the way up to pick up lung sounds, but at least I can pick them up - couldn't even do a BP without it.
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    Thanks for the info on your thinklabs steth. Where did you get yours? What price range was it? I'm really contemplating buying one, I just would sure like to have a trial of it to compare my littman to....

    Thanks again for your input!
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    Quote from shhnack
    Thanks for the info on your thinklabs steth. Where did you get yours? What price range was it? I'm really contemplating buying one, I just would sure like to have a trial of it to compare my littman to....

    Thanks again for your input!
    I am only a brand new GN, so take this for what it is worth. When I quit my airline mechanic job & started nsg school, one of the first of a series of many anxiety attacks was over the fact that 25 years of working on airplanes had made me deaf as a rock, only I didn't know it 'til I found out I could only barely hear kortkoff sounds with a hundred dollar Littman. Littman did let me audition their amplified steth; although I could hear significantly better, I also heard a lot of background with it. I probably would have bought it, but i wound up calling Thinklabs up, & they sold me their steth w/ the understanding that if I wasn't satisfied I could send it back. In my opinion it is not a Cadillac, it is a Ferrari. Both the Littman & the Thinklabs list for $300, All Heart sells them both for $200, & that is what Thinklabs charged me for mine. I can't remember what Littman claims to amplify to (I believe there is a previous reference to that in this thread); with the Thinklabs turned up to "9," it is theoretically amplifying to 50x (ergo, being basically a steth w/ hearing aids built in). The Littman is digital @ the diaphragm bell, & somewhere before it gets to the ear pieces the signal is converted to analogue. The understanding I got from the rep from Thinklabs was that the signal was digital all the way up to the ears. (Where & how the signal is converted to analogue I am foggy on, but I do know that I am comfortable that I am no longer guessing about what I do & don't hear.) Good luck.

    On edit, here is a thread I posted the November of 2006:
    Just a little update:

    I was the 1st semester nursing student who thought his nursing career was over before it even started due to a jet airplane related hearing impairment he never knew he had until he tried to hear through conventional stethescopes.

    The Littman 3000 & the Thinklabs ds32a were both recommended to me on this site (thanks to all who provided input). 3M let me try the 3000 for a week, & I did way better than how I had been doing, Think Labs sent me the similarly priced ds32a on a 30 day money back deal, & all I can say about that unit is, WOW!

    Before I got some bugs worked out adjusting the ear pieces I thought I liked it, I got the ear piece issues worked out & I played with it yesterday, & compared it to a Cadillac; after spending more time with it today, it's not a Caddy--it's a Ferrari!

    This is coming from someone who has now ascertained his hearing is pretty wrecked, but I can hear a stomach growling clearly while I'm checking heart sounds! I've got it turned up all the way (Think Labs claims that to be a gain of 50X), & my wife says that is wayyyyy too loud for her, but all I can say is I can hear clearly & that does a whole lot towards making me feel better.

    The impression that the Think Labs excellent customer service gives me (& I won't go too esoteric as I'm trying to convert my thought process from that of a mechanic to that of a nurse) is that this unit is hard wired from the bell/diaphragm to the earpieces, so it is an analogue/digital hybrid from start to finish. If it is turned off, one hears nothing, & in that case it is dead as a piece of wood, but there is a switch (when turned on) to completely defeat the gain, & in that application Think Labs tells me one is listening to the equvalent of an unamplified conventional steth.

    (The Littman 3000 has a gain of up to 18x. The impression 3M gave me was that all the amplification happens at the bell/diaphragm piece, & from there up to the earpieces it is analogue. I heard better than with my conventional Littman (a Master Classic II), but there was a lot of noise that I wasn't always sure were body sounds or background because I wasn't skillfull enough with it. Had I not tried the Think Labs, I'm reasonably sure I would have bought the Littman.)

    I am green as a X-mas tree to this stuff, but I can also say that I don't need to be a Cadillac expert to know when I am riding in one. Okay then, thanks to all who provided input to my 1st thread, if I don't make it in this game, it won't be because I can't hear.

    matt
    Last edit by matt59 on Aug 8, '08
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    shhnack -

    Here's the review I posted on Amazon back in April of 2007, shortly after I bought my Thinklabs ds32A:

    As a degreed Chemical Engineer for 22+ years, and a volunteer Paramedic since 1991 (in my "copious free" time), I wanted to treat myself to a new stethoscope prior to starting an accelerated BS-->BS/MSNursing program in a couple more months.

    I chose the Thinklabs Rhythm ds32a stethoscope.

    I've used a Littman Classic II SE scope for the past 5 years or so, and have been happy with its performance (no breakages, nothing worn out). I looked at other electronic stethoscopes, but they all seemed pretty expensive.

    The Thinklabs scope is well thought out. The company president, Clive Smith, is a degreed Electrical Engineer. Although he didn't choose the "one true path" of Chemical Engineering, I won't hold that against him (too much!).

    I have only been using this scope for a month or so, so I don't have years of experience in using it (yet). It is not heavy at all, and is comparable to my current scope. It has a nice shiny chestpiece (chrome plated aluminum), and soft earpieces, which block out lots of ambient noise. LEDs on the reverse surface of the chestpiece show the current "operating mode" for the scope. Amplification is adjustable via an "all or none" control, and a "volume" dial.

    The biggest selling point for this scope (in my humble opinion) is the "fly by wire" design, meaning that it's totally electronic from chestpiece to earpiece speakers. Most amplified scopes have a normal style (acoustic diaphragm) chestpiece tied to a hollow rubber tube leading to the electronic amplifier. With the Thinklabs unit, the chestpiece is not a normal acoustic diaphragm. It is a metallized diaphragm in front of an electronic transducer (~2" diameter brass disc). This picks up sound vibrations as with "old fashioned" scopes, but rather than just dumping sound vibrations up the long rubber tube, it sends the signals via wires to the amplifier "guts" located about halfway between the chestpiece and the earpieces.

    THINK ABOUT IT...rather than the sound being mixed with ambient noises picked up by the floppy rubber tube, the Thinklabs unit sends the sounds directly via wire to the amplifier, avoiding a lot of the ambient noise.

    Once signals leave the amplifier, they're directed through wires to neodymium magnet speakers in the earpieces. Once again, there's not a lot of opportunity for ambient noise to interfere with whatever signal the chestpiece picked up.

    I have used this stethoscope in the back of an ambulance running lights & siren, on noisy Dayton, Ohio streets. It blocked out most of the ambient noise, and still allowed me to still hear decent breath sounds. That's pretty impressive! In a quiet home or hospital setting, this scope is bound to be ideal.

    TWO MINOR COMPLAINTS -

    1) The unit doesn't drape across your neck & stay in place as well as the Littman stethoscope. I find that the earpiece end of the scope tends to slide down your chest. Not sure if that end is heavier than the chestpiece part, but it's still a bit irritating.

    2) The shiny aluminized plastic battery compartment worries me a bit. I just wonder how well it will handle normal wear & tear without rubbing off the shiny coating & showing the black plastic underneath. Thinklabs says it's polycarbonate, which should be nice & tough, but with a scope this expensive, I'd hope it stays nice looking after a few years of use.

    For EMS field use, I'm still reserving judgment as to this scope's durability. As an electronic device, it's probably not as "bullet proof" as an old fashioned acoustic stethoscope. I've not used it outside in the rain yet, so I can't speak as to whether the electronics will hold up. The president of Thinklabs seems very willing to back up his product, and answered my emails directly. This is very unusual in today's business climate, and speaks very well of the company's willingness too back up their product.

    The ds32A also comes with an adapter cable which allows you to record sounds picked up by the stethoscope. I've not played around with that feature yet, but it would be ideal for teaching.

    If you're looking to buy an amplified stethoscope, I'd give this one some serious consideration.

    UPDATE RE: HEARING IMPAIRED USE 7/30/08:

    A member of my nursing class had Cogan's Syndrome (weird autoimmune disease nuking her hearing). I loaned her my Thinklabs ds32A for a trial, but think she ended up with a different stethoscope. I've emailed her & asked which 'scope she ended up using.

    In emailing my classmate, she wrote:
    "I finally went with the Cardionics E-scope with the traditional binaurals....I chose this one because it offered the most amplification, which I really don't need much right now, but the way my hearing
    fluctuates, I likely will need considerable amplification down the road. Also, it was the brand I heard things most clearly with."


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