Ask the expert: How can the Baha System help me localize sound?

Question: Hi, It looks like I will be getting the Baha 4 Attract System for my single sided deafness. I’m pretty excited after trying it out the Baha Softband version at the audiologist’s office. I’ve been deaf in my left ear my whole life but this is the first time I’ve gotten a hearing aid of any kind.

Anyways, I do have two questions. First, I’ve heard conflicting stories on whether this will help me locate where sounds are coming from. Also, I was just wondering about the level of scarring with the surgery for the Baha Attract System.

Thanks! //Andrew

Answer: Dear Andrew,

Congratulations on the choice for a Baha Attract System! You ask two very good questions.

First, the Baha Attract System works by sending sound from one side of the head via bone conduction to your good ear. In this way the good ear receives both the natural sound and the amplified sound from the other side. These two sounds are mixed together into one sound scape. In order to localise, the brain needs to receive two separate streams of sound information. Some of the conflicting stories you hear comes from the fact that you will soon have 360 degree sound awareness. So yes, you will be able to hear the person, traffic, music etc better on the deaf side. However, you will need to use your other senses (like eye sight) to know from which side the sound is coming from.

Second, the surgeon will ensure that the incision is as small as possible and it will be behind the ear. While everyone is different, recent eports indicate that for the most part the resulting scar is small, the magnet is very thin so will be hard to detect, and numbness resolves for most patients over time*. The photo below indicates the type of post operative view that you might expect.

Baha Attract System

Baha Attract System user Ange, Australia

Best of luck!

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

* Smeds, H., Van Hasselt, A., Luntz, M., Goycoolea, M., Flynn, M., Wigren, S., Weber, P., Plant, K., Knight, M., Cowan, R. & Briggs, R. Clinical outcomes from an international multi-center clinical investigation of a new magnetic bone conduction implant system. 13th International Conference on Cochlear Implants and Other Implantable Auditory Technologies, Munich, 18-21 June 2014.

Associate Professor Jim Patrick awarded Order of Australia for cochlear implant development

jim-patrick-award

We’re proud to announce that on Sunday, Associate Professor Jim Patrick, Chief Scientist at Cochlear Limited, was awarded the Order of Australia for distinguished service to science through the development of the cochlear implant!

Jim was a member of Professor Graeme Clark’s original Cochlear Implant Research Team (1975 – 1981) at the University of Melbourne, Australia, which invented the world’s first multichannel cochlear implant. In 1981, he was a founding member of Cochlear Limited, which is the global leader in implantable hearing solutions and where he is currently Senior Vice-President and Chief Scientist.

Jim Patrick says:

“Cochlear implants truly change peoples’ lives. They bring people with hearing loss into a world of sound that the rest of us take for granted. Cochlear’s recipients have all the opportunities of people with normal hearing. This includes babies born with severe to profound deafness and well as adults with progressive hearing loss.

This award is recognition of all the researchers, engineers, medical professionals and Cochlear recipients, who have helped restore hearing to hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.”

Professor_Jim_Patrick_Cochlear_Award_2015

According to the World Health Organisation, an estimated 360 million people worldwide have a disabling hearing loss. For those with severe to profound hearing loss, implantable hearing devices like cochlear implants can be an effective solution.

“Jim has an understated, but deeply passionate approach,” says Dr Chris Roberts, CEO and President Cochlear Limited. “He is truly a world expert in cochlear implantation and internationally respected for his past and current contributions to the field of cochlear implants.”

Congratulations to Associate Professor Patrick for this prestigious award!

In memoriam: Professor Brånemark’s collaborators remember his work

In December 2014, Professor Per-Ingvar Brånemark passed away at the age of 85.

Professor Brånemark is generally considered the father of osseointegration. He coined the term in the 1960s during studies in bone rheology and defined it as the direct contact between a titanium implant and living bone tissue.

The first clinical application of titanium implants was in oral surgery, where they continue to be used today to anchor dental prosthesis. For the now millions of patients around the world, dental implants have offered a completely new life of being able to chew, swallow, speak and smile.

Discovery of a lifetime

How these dental implants led to the first bone conduction hearing implant is a story of serendipity. In the early days, Brånemark was looking to evaluate how well the titanium implant had fused with the bone. In this process, he tried a new acoustic method of measurement where he put a bone vibrator on a patient with a dental implant. When the vibrator started, the man was quite startled to hear a very loud sound coming from the vibrator, as he suffered from hearing loss and did not expect to hear so well. An amazing new discovery was born – a bone-anchored implant could be used to send sound efficiently through bone! This would open up a totally new way of treating people who had, up until this point, not been able to hear as they could not benefit from traditional air conduction hearing aids.

Brånemark’s discovery gave birth to the Baha System, and today more than 100,000 patients around the world can hear and communicate thanks to a bone conduction hearing solution. And it has all been possible thanks to Professor Brånemark’s pioneering work.

Brånemark’s worked in close cooperation with the Department of Otolaryngology at Sahlgrenska University Hospital and Chalmers University of Technology in Göteborg, Sweden in the early days of bone conduction hearing systems. Two of his closest collaborators were Bo Håkansson, now professor at Chalmers, and Anders Tjellström, M.D., Ph.D., D.Sc.hc.

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

Prof. Brånemark, Dr Tjellström and Prof. Håkansson

Here, they remember Professor Brånemark in their own words.

Bo Håkansson, was the innovator of the original transducer used to help patients hear through a Baha System. He remembers the early years:

“For me, as a young graduate student, it was incredibly inspiring to be part of a research environment where Brånemark tied leading researchers from both Sweden and abroad to the research team. The weekly interrogations were admittedly tough for the students but certainly very educational, and these students have later ended up in senior positions at universities around the world.

Professor Brånemark may have been perceived as tough to work with, especially among company heads with other priorities, but I got to know a soft side of him, a side that genuinely cared about his patients and coworkers. I remember his indomitable quest to meet patients’ needs as a top priority before managements’ profits. One of his doctrines was that everyone involved in research in these areas must meet with patients at least once a week. According to him, it was the basis for any successful medical project.”

Anders Tjellström recalls:

“In the early 70s, I was working as a resident at the ENT department in Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg and had the opportunity to assist Professor Brånemark in some of his surgery. Brånemark met many patients with facial defects due to tumour surgery, trauma or congenital malformation. These patients suffered heavily from their defects. Many of them could not be part of social life. Some would not even go out in daylight hours.

Using the same titanium solution as for dental and bone conduction hearing solutions, these patients were able to get implants for the retention of facial prostheses made from silicon. Brånemark took an eager interest in this work and was often the leading surgeon in major defects. The work with cranio-facial prosthesis is today an integrated part of Cochlear; known as the VistaFix System.

Those of us who had the privilege to have Professor Brånemark as our teacher, mentor and friend have been very fortunate. The empty space he has left behind will be hard to fill. One remarkable thing about this world-renowned scientist was his bedside manner with patients. No matter what, the patient was always his main focus.”

Here at Cochlear we are very grateful for Professor Brånemark’s discovery and lifetime focus on patient needs, work that has increased the quality of life for so many people around the world. His spirit still lives on here at Cochlear where we continue his legacy of innovation.

The osseointegrated titanium implant is still the strong foundation of the Baha System, and we thank Professor Brånemark for making it possible.

 

In the news: Kelly, 34, has upgraded to the Baha 4 Sound Processor

baha-4-sound-processor-user-kelly-jenkinsAustralian newspaper Blacktown Sun has a story about Baha user Kelly Jenkins, who recently upgraded to the Baha 4 Sound Processor and wireless accessories.

Kelly lost her hearing in her left ear in her 20s and was implanted with a Baha solution in 2007.

From the article:

Six weeks ago she upgraded to the Baha 4 bone conduction hearing device, which she loves because it provides even better clarity of sound and allows her to access associated wireless technology with a mini microphone no larger than a credit card. The small, portable wireless microphone transmits speech and sound to the Baha sound processor.

Kelly is especially thrilled to be able to go out to restaurants again without being disturbed by the noise.

“I placed my mini microphone in front of [my friends], connected it to my Baha and ended up having my first real restaurant conversation in over 10 years. It was a truly amazing experience.”

Read the whole story here: Blacktown Sun Kelly Baha user 2015

 

Using the Baha solution together with a behind-the-ear hearing aid

Question: I am very excited to be getting my Baha sound processor, just waiting the 8 weeks for healing.

Currently I am wearing a BTE aid in my left ear and I am deaf in the right ear. My Baha will be on the right side. My question is, will I be able to hear on the phones at work with the Baha? Or will I still need to wear my BTE aid? (I do not hear without it).

I have been told there may be a device I can connect to my work phone that will support bluetooth, if so will it work with the Baha?????
Do you have any suggestions?

Excited to hear what I have been missing! /Teresa

Answer: Dear Teresa,

Thank you for your e-mail! The choice on how to configure the hearing aid with your Baha sound processor is something that your hearing care professional can work through.

From our experience, many people have shown that they can benefit from both the Baha and the hearing aid. This will provide you with crucial information from both sides of the head, improved performance in noise and in working out what direction sounds are coming from. If you can, it is best to stick with two hearing devices.

Just like many modern hearing aids, the latest Baha sound processors enable connection to Bluetooth devices. This will enable you to connect directly to devices such as telephones, televisions and tablets.

We have summarised how you can connect you Baha sound processor to other wireless devices here.

Regards,

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