In the news: first patient in Leeds fitted with the Baha Attract System

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Here’s a story from Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTHT) in the UK:

Chris Hatton has become the first patient at LTHT to be fitted with the Baha Attract System, which includes a magnet placed under the patient’s skin, greatly improving its usability and cosmetic appearance.

Previously patients with this type of hearing device have had to have it secured in place via a connection through the skin known as an abutment. The new magnetic type of attachment avoids the complications of having a direct and visible connection through the skin.

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Chris, 41, was assessed as a suitable candidate for the newly available technology, in which there is a magnetic connection providing an invisible link between the sound processor and the implant.

Externally, Chris wears a Baha SoftWear Pad attached to the Baha 5 Sound Processor, which sits discreetly behind his ear. Inside his head, a small titanium implant was inserted by a small operation into the bone behind the ear. Sound is picked up and transmitted as vibrations from the external sound processor via the magnet to the implant, which then directs them through the bone of the skull to stimulate the inner ear, allowing Chris to hear.

The wireless device uses the latest technology and automatically senses and adapts to different ambient sound conditions such as wind and traffic noise, music and conversation, and links through his iPhone Smart App. It can be fine-tuned to meet Chris’s specific needs.

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Mr Sanjay Verma, Consultant Ear, Nose and Throat surgeon at Leeds Teaching Hospitals, implanted the device in an operation which took around 40 minutes, and Chris was able to go home the same day. Mr Verma explained:

“With the previous type of Baha system, patients needed to take particular care to avoid the connection through the skin becoming infected. With the Baha Attract System, having a magnet in place under the skin with the overlying skin intact does away with that risk, and is cosmetically more acceptable to patients. The external sound processing device is held securely by the magnetic link but can be removed and put back extremely easily. It also does away with the need to attend multiple aftercare clinics so the number of follow-up visits are kept to a minimum, which is much more convenient for the patient and cuts down the costs for the NHS.”

From his perspective, Chris can now hear from his left side again and no longer gets the migraines he used to suffer from:

“It has a kind of sci-fi look and I get lots of questions about it. People are always amazed that something so small actually works and restores my hearing. I can do things which I previously couldn’t do and I often find I forget I am wearing it. It was easy and convenient to implant and I’m delighted to be the first patient in Leeds to have this new technology. I would definitely recommend it to people in a similar position to me who would benefit.”

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“It’s so light, I even forget I have it on” – Baha 5 Attract user Jon

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“It’s just amazing. I can’t believe the difference. You don’t realize what you’ve lost until somebody shows what you got back.”

Baha Attract user Jon was having problems with his magnet because of his thick skin. He could only wear it for a few hours at a time before his head got sore. A few months ago he was upgraded to the new, lighter Baha 5 Sound Processor – the smallest in the industry – and now he can easily wear his Baha Attract System all day long. Sometimes he even forgets he has it on.

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“I think it’s 100% better,” says Jon about the Baha 5 Sound Processor. “The main reason is it’s a lot lighter. I had a small issue with the Baha 4 Sound Processor, with the magnet. I had to have the stronger magnet […], and I had to wear it without the SoftPad, so I could only wear it for maybe 4-5 hours before I’d become a bit sore on my head. But now with the smaller one, the less weight, I could wear it all day and forget I have it on, which is brilliant for me – and the sound quality is a lot better as well.”

The unique Baha SoftWear Pad gently adapts to the skin to improve wearing comfort.

Read also: How to change the Baha SoftWear Pad

Watch Jon’s story in the short video below:

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Baha Attract user Alex, 10: “The control features are awesome!”

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May 2015 marked one year since 10-year old Alex was fitted with the Baha Attract System. Since then, pretty much his whole life has changed.

From early childhood, Alex suffered from bad ear infections which were treated with antibiotics and drops. This made him a fussy baby and he didn’t sleep well at all. At one of his first visits to his paediatrician she came across a small polyp in his right ear and referred Alex’ parents to an ENT specialist.

“The very moment the specialist looked in his ear, he knew there was a problem,” remembers mother Chrissy. “After a hearing test we knew for sure he had hearing loss. Alex went into surgery right away and just 20 minutes after the surgeon started he stopped to come and tell us that our little guy had an extensive cholesteatoma.”

Alex had surgery, but after about three years, his parents noticed he still was not hearing like he should have. The ENT doctor ran new tests and determined that he needed some type of hearing assistance. At first they tried a regular hearing aid but because of Alex’s chronic draining issue, it was impossible. His audiologist recommended a Baha System.

“We found out that Cochlear had the magnetic option and felt that it would be a good thing for him, because of not having the extra maintenance of cleaning an abutment,” says Chrissy. “I did my research and his audiologist and ENT surgeon set us up with a Cochlear representative who let Alex try on the Baha Softband. He totally fell in love with it and said right away that this was what he wanted. The magnet was a natural choice for us since he is super active and loves to play.”

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The Baha Attract System uses the same titanium implant as other Baha systems, but no abutment. Instead it uses a magnetic connection to attract the sound processor to the implant, sending sound to the inner ear without anything breaking the skin.

“The Baha Attract System offered the opportunity for us to not have to add another daily medical task to my sons’ already busy life. There is no external abutment so there is nothing that has to be maintained except for the sound processor itself.”

On April 24th of 2014 Alex had his surgery and after four weeks of healing he was fitted with his Baha sound processor. According to his mother, Alex healed quickly without any problems. He had his surgery on a Thursday and was up playing the very next day, just like normal.

The Baha Attract System is the only magnetic hearing care system with true wireless direct-to-device capabilities. This means that Alex can connect his sound processor to a number of wireless accessories and iPhone – without the hassles of wires or neck-worn dongles.

“Alex never takes his sound processor off,” says Chrissy. “He wears it when he plays and runs around. He is hearing things he never heard before. He loves this technology. He uses his Mini Microphone for everything. He plugs into his tablet or the TV or even his Xbox and uses it in school every day. He thinks that the new Baha 5 Sound Processor has ‘awesome’ control features. This has been a crazy ride for sure but it has been worth it.”

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Which should I get – the Baha Attract or Baha Connect System?

Question: I am in the process of deciding on the Baha bone conduction hearing solution. Do you have reviews on the Baha Attract System vs. the ‘snap’ or screw system? My doctor thinks the snap provides better sound and will have less potential complications. Is there a concern with skin compression issues with the magnetic system? //Julie Spencer

Answer: Dear Ms. Spencer,

Thank you for your question and it is great to hear that you are deciding on a bone conduction system.

The choice between the Baha Attract System and the Baha Connect System is highly individual, and it depends on your level of hearing loss as well as other factors.

To help you select the system that best meets your needs, we recommend that you trial the sound processor on a Baha Softband. This will give you a good indication of the hearing experience you can expect with the Baha Attract System after surgery. Always discuss with your health care professional what the best option is for you.

The Baha Connect System offers the benefit of direct bone conduction without any dampening of the sound signal. It is also a good option for people who need frequent MRI scans.

The Baha Attract System offers the benefit of less skin care because the skin remains intact. It has been specifically designed for good wearing comfort. With this system one should account for some sound dampening because the signal travels through the skin, but that may not be a problem for many users.

There is some more information on the choice between the two systems to be found in this blog post.

Good luck with your choice!

~ Martin Bryman, Senior Product Manager, Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions

My daughter had hearing loss for 4 years and I didn’t know: A mother’s story

When Melissa Washabaugh took her daughter, Isabella, to her first ENT appointment, she was not prepared for the result. What she thought would be a routine check-up gave her the shock of a lifetime – her daughter was completely deaf in her right ear, and no one knew. This is her story:

“We found out about Isabella’s hearing loss at her first ENT appointment when she was four years old. I wondered why they were running so many tests. They had me go into the sound booth with Isabella.  I could hear the beeps, but she wasn’t moving – she couldn’t hear them. The doctor pulled me aside and told me that Isabella wasn’t hearing out of her right ear. Her ear inside was beautiful, but the nerves didn’t work. You always think your child is perfect and healthy. We were devastated, shocked that we didn’t realise it sooner.

Early signs of hearing loss

Looking back from that moment, I suddenly realised all the signs we had missed along the way. To start, we looked at the paperwork from her newborn hearing screening. It indicated that she failed the hearing test in her right ear three times. We never remember anyone in the hospital mentioning that to us. Our minds went back to all those times when we called to her and she didn’t respond. How could we not have seen this?

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But Isabella was my first child.  There were so many things I didn’t realise at the time were important. Running along the sidewalk, Isabella wouldn’t listen. I would stop her and tell her she needed to listen so she wouldn’t get hit by a car.  She’d nod in agreement and say she just didn’t hear me. I didn’t realise she actually couldn’t hear me. Now, with my son at the same age, I notice that he is talking much more. I guess I just didn’t see it with Isabella because I didn’t have experience from which to compare.

Conventional hearing aids didn’t help my daughter’s hearing loss

After the ENT appointment, I asked Isabella if she could hear out of her left ear, and she said yes.  I asked if she could hear out of her right ear, and she said no.  When I asked why she never told me, she said, “I did Mom. You called me, and I told you I couldn’t hear you”. I had to smile, yet felt a heavy sadness. She had told me, and I was the one that didn’t listen!

We learned that with Isabella’s type of hearing loss, conventional hearing aids were not going to help. But there was something that would – a Baha System. We had to wait until Isabella turned five years old because children in the US and Canada can’t get bone conduction implants before then. However, she was able to use a Baha Softband until the surgery and heard better right away.

I worried about something being implanted in my daughter’s head.  I worried what her friends would say, if they did each other’s hair.  But I was more worried about her not being able to hear.  My husband said we just needed to make sure she never feels different.  Just before Isabella’s fifth birthday, we found out about the new magnetic Baha Attract System, which was more discreet and involved less daily care than the abutment system. We decided to wait until it was be available. Isabella was the first or second child at Washington DC Hospital to get a Baha Attract System!

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Read more: World’s top surgeons share successful outcomes with the Baha Attract System

Every parent has fears when their child is going into surgery, but the doctors reassured us it was not invasive; it was an outpatient procedure, and we didn’t need to spend the night. I was still nervous the whole time. Afterwards, Isabella was a bit fuzzy. But after we got home she was back to herself, playing with her brother as if nothing had happened. We had to keep reminding her that she’d had surgery. The next day she was outside playing with the other children. She only needed mild pain relief for the first few days. My fears quickly evaporated.

Isabella’s Baha sound processor helps her while playing soccer

Isabella loved her sound processor right away, but needed to get used to wearing it, just like glasses or contact lenses. Now she wears it all the time. She plays soccer, does gymnastics, and ice skating. It has been especially helpful in soccer, with people yelling from the side lines and the coach talking to her from across the field – it definitely helps Isabella to play the game. She loves playing with her brother, cousins and friends, with dolls, riding her bicycle, roller skating, dressing up, dancing… just like any active kid.

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The Baha Attract System is the best thing to ever happen to our daughter. Isabella was well below the curve before it, whereas now she is reading more than most of the kids in her class and has become much more outgoing. It’s amazing how a little piece of equipment has given her so much more confidence. It really was the light at the end of the tunnel for us.

We chose the Baha Attract System because it’s seamless

I’ve started talking to a couple of families who are just getting the Baha Softband.  When we were going through this we had no one to talk to, and now I’m willing to share our experience with others because I’ve been there, done that. I tell them we chose the Baha Attract System because it was seamless. She’s very active, and this went right along with her everyday life.  It’s like a seatbelt, I know my kid is safe with it on!

My daughter loves secrets. I whisper a lot to her, our special little secrets. It breaks my heart that I never knew she couldn’t hear all my secrets and “I love you’s” before.  Now she is always asking me to tell her a special secret. The future is bright for Isabella.  She excels in everything she does, and hearing loss is not a weakness or handicap, it’s just something that she has.”

Melissa Washabaugh lives in Maryland, USA with her husband and children Isabella and Grant.

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Outcomes may vary. Results from case studies are not predictive of results in other cases.

 

“The Baha Attract System was an easy decision”

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Even if you’re totally comfortable with your bone conduction solution, you might not want everyone else to see it, all the time.

With Cochlear’s new systems, you don’t have to. The Baha 5 Sound Processor is so small it barely shows – especially if you have hair – and together with the new Colour covers for the Baha Attract System it blends in even more.

Brian, Baha Attract user, USA, says:

“I should have had Baha surgery right away as my wife and doctor insisted my hearing was worse than I was willing to admit, and it was the only solution for my conductive hearing loss. But I ignored my hearing trouble for 8 more years…out of vanity.  I have always been extremely vain and worried so much about having the device on my head that I refused to do it. I just didn’t want people staring at my head.”

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As the new, streamlined SP Magnet and new Colour covers are designed to blend in with the small Baha 5 Sound Processor and hair colour, Brian’s concerns weren’t realized. The system is so discreet you can hardly see it!

“The Baha Attract System was an easy decision,” Brian continues. “My family thinks it’s great technology, but otherwise we don’t really think about it at all. Isn’t that the point really? You get to live life normally and people around you don’t have to think about your hearing challenges.”

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