Ask the expert: What drying kit can I use for my Baha sound processor?

Question: Can I use a Perfect DryLux instead of the HalHen drier with my Baha sound processor? If not why not? / Emily

Answer: Hi Emily. We haven’t verified it, but I can’t see why not. Just don’t try to speed up the drying process by using direct sunlight or a hair dryer, as specified here.

Best of luck!

~ Mark C. Flynn, PhD Audiologist, Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions

Professor Per-Ingvar Brånemark has passed away

professor-per-ingvar-branemark-death-2014

On December 20, 2014, Per-Ingvar Brånemark passed away after a period of extended illness in his hometown of Gothenburg, Sweden. He was 85.

Professor Brånemark revolutionized the implant dentistry sphere with his discovery of osseointegration in the 1950s – an innovation that would stretch far and beyond the dental world.

After his scientific discovery that the human body would not only tolerate titanium, but also integrate it into living bone tissue, implantable bone conduction solutions have improved the quality of life for millions of people around the world.

A rabbit’s leg

As a young researcher in his native Sweden, Professor Brånemark was not interested in either titanium or implants. He was actually working to advance the world’s knowledge of the anatomy of blood flow, and used an optical device that happened to be enclosed in machined titanium. Attached to a rabbit’s leg, this device made it possible for him to study micro circulation in the bone tissue of rabbits through specially modified light microscopes. When it was time to remove the device from the bone, Brånemark was surprised to find that the bone and the titanium had become inseparable.

Against conventional wisdom

His findings that titanium could integrate in the bone, flew in the face of conventional wisdom. In the mid-1960s, physicians and dentists were still being taught that foreign, non-biological materials could not be integrated into living tissue. The academic world turned against Brånemark’s research.

These were tough times for Brånemark. He was repeatedly turned down when he applied for renewed grants to study tissue anchored implants, yet he persevered. Eventually the US National Institute of Health stepped in and funded his research, which made it possible for him to demonstrate the accuracy of his claims and the success of his surgeries. However, it wasn’t until the 1970s that the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare finally approved of the Brånemark method.

From teeth to hearing loss

The first clinical application of titanium was in oral surgery, where implants were used for replacing teeth. For his patients with missing dentures, this meant a whole new life of being able to chew, swallow, speak and smile.

After a while, Brånemark tried a new acoustic method to evaluate how well the titanium implant had fused with the bone, and how stable it was. A patient with dental implants was fitted with a bone vibrator on one of his implants. When tested, the patient experienced very loud sound from the vibrator – even though he suffered from hearing loss. An amazing new discovery was born – that sound can travel through bone!

The Baha solution

Both Dr. Tjellström and Håkansson later followed up on Brånemark’s findings and lay the ground of what was to become the bone conduction hearing implant; the Baha solution. So far, more than 100,000 hearing impaired people all over the world have been helped by this technology and professor Brånemark’s legacy.

Prof. Brånemark, Dr Tjellström and Prof. Håkansson in the early 80's

Prof. Brånemark, Dr Tjellström and Prof. Håkansson in the early 80’s

Amelia’s life changing Baha moment

sharon-king-baha-attract

This year, Amelia Leach from Australia, will be able to hear her young son’s first words!

She was just fitted with her new Baha Attract System.

Hearing care professional Sharon King, of Sharon King Hearing Centres, says:

“The Baha Attract system is good news for people with single-sided deafness , or those who have other outer or middle ear issues which stop sound from reaching their cochlea, as this system transmits sound through bone (i.e. your skull). The surgery is minimally invasive. Additionally, no implant is visible through the skin, as the sound processor is attached to the head via a magnet positioned under the skin. That’s just one of the great benefits of the Baha Attract system.”

Amelia’s ear drums were perforated right after birth, which left her with severe hearing loss. Hearing aids helped, but not without complications.

“There was this constant buzzing, constant background noise,” says Amelia, “and now I don’t have any of that. I can hear if someone’s on the phone in the other room. I wouldn’t be able to tell you that before.”

For Amelia and her husband, the timing couldn’t be more perfect – their two-year-old son Eric is just starting to learn to talk.

Mrs Leach said she couldn’t wait to hear his words ring out among the babbling toddler talk, and was looking forward to helping him “pronounce things a little better”.

“This is the best Christmas present ever.”

Watch Amelia’s “Baha moment” here:

Five year-old boy without ear can hear again with the magnetic Baha Attract System

Sixten-Baha-Attract-children

Sixten was born in Sweden as the second of three boys. What set Sixten apart from his brothers was that he was born without external ear and ear canal on his right side, a condition known as atresia/microtia. As a result, he had a hearing loss that could not be helped with regular behind-the-ear hearing aids.

His parents, Susanne and Jonny, first heard about the Baha System from their hearing care professional when Sixten was about one year old.

“Our doctor told us there was a hearing device suitable for Sixten and wondered if we wanted to test it,” recalls Jonny. “Not that long ago apparently, it was thought that hearing in one ear was enough. But now research has advanced and now we know that unilateral hearing loss is a bigger handicap than previously thought.”

In Jonny’s and Susanne’s mind, communication itself is primary, how it is done doesn’t matter as much. If there was a way to help Sixten hear and to communicate – they wanted to do it.

Baha-Softband-child

Used Baha Softband before surgery

Sixten began to wear a Baha sound processor on a Baha Softband from when he was one and a half.

“We are as sure as can be that Sixten is helped by the Baha device,” says Susanne. “We clearly noticed a difference in Sixten’s mood – he perked up and was more attentive when he had the Baha Softband on.”

By the spring of 2013, Sixten’s parents were convinced he was hearing well with his device and decided to take the next step and get an implant. The surgery went well, but a few months later Sixten dislocated his abutment after falling down from a table. When they went in to see their doctor about it, he recommended switching to the magnetic Baha Attract System.

Susanne and Jonny thought it sounded perfect for their son. So in the summer of 2014, Sixten got his new Baha Attract System.

“In the very beginning, we decided to try the Baha Softband because it was easy – no surgery,” says Susanne. “When we felt sure that he was being helped by the Softband we decided on the abutment. After he had his little accident and we heard about the Baha Attract, it was an obvious choice. Nothing is protruding through the skin and the sound processor stays put. If it had been available when Sixten was younger, we definitely would have gone with it.”

Baha-Attract-System-children

Doesn’t fall off

During our four hour visit with Sixten and his family, the little guy is not still for a second. He hangs upside down, gets thrown up in the air by his dad, runs around and wrestles with his older brother – and the sound processor stays in place. When it does get knocked off – after some especially boisterous wrestling – it’s caught by his safety line and Sixten just pops it back on.

Baha-Attract-magnet-doesnt-fall-off“We’re just so relieved that he is so confident with it, and that he’s able to play just like other children,” says Sixten’s father.

According to Sixten’s parents, while both the Connect and Attract systems provide significant hearing benefits, the biggest advantages of the Baha Attract, compared to the Softband and the abutment, are how it looks and that it’s care free.

“It’s nice not to need the daily care,” says Susanne. “The skin is intact and he has no problems with infections.”

Can’t hear without it

Sixten is clearly fond of his Baha sound processor and doesn’t want to be without it for longer periods of time. As soon as he doesn’t have it on, his parents and teachers notice that he starts getting agitated, even a bit difficult, and tired from concentrating to hear.

“Previously he could be without it for maybe a day,” says Susanne. “But now he wants to have it on all the time. He says he can’t hear without it. If it falls off he instantly fixes it himself. He always has the safety line on so it won’t drop on the floor.”

Baha-Attract-magnet-children“Here – try it on!” Sixten’s older brother listens through the magnet and sound processor while blocking his ears, to get an idea of how bone conduction works.

Magic Mini Mic

The family also enjoy the benefits of the wireless accessories, particularly the Cochlear Wireless Mini Microphone.

“The first time we tried the Mini Mic, we were outside and I had it clipped to my collar and Sixten could hear me even though he was far away, and he just cried ‘Mom, it’s magic!’”, smiles Susanne. “He uses it also to watch TV.”

“And Sixten – what do you think about your Baha sound processor?”

“It’s great because I can hear! It’s good to have a hearing device.”

“Is there anything you’d like to have?”

“Yes! Battery doors with T-Rex on them!” exclaims Sixten with a big grin.

child-with-baha-attract-magnet-sound-processorchildren-with-bahachildren-baha-attract-system

In the news: Anthony, 29, has switched to the Baha Attract System

Baha-Attract-Australia

29-year old builder and rugby player Anthony King from Inverell, Australia, has been deaf all his life.

From the age of three he used a bone conductor held on a headband. The device worked but unfortunately caused him discomfort, sometimes even chafing his skin raw. The device also only provided a directional sound, meaning he had to be facing the source of a sound to know where it came from.

On November 17th 2014, all that changed when Anthony was fitted with a Cochlear Baha Attract System on each side – giving him bilateral hearing. He said it is a very new experience.

“Probably the sound quality, I’ve heard a few things I’ve never heard before. Things sound a lot different.”

Anthony has always been very active – playing on the rugby paddock, riding saddle broncs and bulls, training working dogs and roping horses. He definitely plans to continue his hobbies – just maybe in a bit more careful way. Not because of the Baha Attract – but because he’s soon to become a father for the first time.

“I’ve always been rough and ready, in rugby or rodeo, or something a bit dangerous, but now I’m taking a little bit of a step back. Getting old and soft now,” he grinned.

Congratulations to Anthony to soon being able to hear the lovely sounds of his newborn!

Find the original story here.

Read more: Questions and answers about the Baha Attract System

Baha Attract System

Musician Baha user: “Why do I get distortion from playing the piano?”

piano-baha-sound-processor

Question: I’m a musician/pianist. I now have a Cochlear Baha 4 Sound Processor that is bone anchored. The volume of some of the pianos I play approaches the 90db ceiling on my Baha 4 unit. I’m getting distortion from the music and it seems to be across the whole frequency range of the sound processor. No one frequency or band is worse than others. Any ideas on how to eliminate the distortion?

By the way, you can simulate what I’m hearing by overdriving your stereo speakers. One way to do that is turn the volume all the way up. Same with ear buds. That’s the kind of distortion I’m hearing. It’s not feedback. It’s clipping.

Thanks! /Tim

Answer: Dear Tim. Congratulations on your Baha 4 Sound Processor – as a musician you should definitely notice and appreciate the additional fidelity.

You are absolutely correct, that extra effort needs to be taken when fitting any hearing device for people with specific enjoyment of music. When we design a hearing device, we focus on speech understanding. Speech is very different to music with a dynamic range of only 30dB and a loudest sound (e.g. /a/) of around 80dBSPL. Music on the other hand, will often have more low frequency emphasis (middle C is 256Hz whereas speech carries most information around 1500Hz), a much larger dynamic range approaching 100dB and input levels often peaking above 110-115dBSPL.

This calls for three potential solutions when listening to music:

1. Dedicated Music program. Your hearing care professional can create a dedicated music program. We offer one in the Baha 4 Sound Processor. This has been tailored to music by having a flatter frequency response, linear amplification (as compression can play havoc with music) and we have turned off various speech enhancement features such as noise reduction, directional microphones and tempered the feedback cancelling algorithm so it does not become confused by musical tones. This will provide an improved listening exprience.

2. Use a connection. When listening to music use a direct audio connection or listen via the wireless accessories (e.g. Mini Mic), here you can adjust the level so that the peaks of music do not overdrive the microphones.

3. Turn your hearing device off. Depending on your hearing loss, many people will remove their hearing device when listening to music. Due to the loud peaks and low frequency emphasis music is often audible whereas speech might not be. This will also avoid overdriving the analogue/digital converter of the hearing aid “front end” which may clip sounds above around 95dBSPL. This is an unfortunate limitation in most hearing instruments.

Your hearing care professional should be able to guide you through these options.

~ Mark C. Flynn, PhD Audiologist, Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions

Patrick Speaks – how a young boy lived without communication for 15 years

Prepared to be moved by this documentary by Channel 4, Unreported World:

Patrick Otema, 15 was born profoundly deaf. In the remote area of Uganda where he lives there are no schools for deaf children, and he has never had a conversation. Raymond Okkelo, a sign language teacher, hopes to change all this and offer Patrick a way out of the fearful silence he has known his whole life.

A touching story on the importance of communication and how untreated hearing loss can shut people off from society.