Proof lies beneath the surface – the DermaLock Abutment

For more than 30 years, titanium implants have been used in bone conduction hearing implant systems. Titanium is a truly remarkable metal with unique properties that make it ideal for human implantation. Its ability to osseointegrate (bond) with bone is the key to making a Baha System work.

Up until a few years ago, the abutment (part of the implant that sticks through the skin) was also made completely with titanium. While ideal for bonding with bone, titanium does not bond with soft tissue (skin and underlying layers). That’s why it used to be common practice to thin the soft tissue around the abutment. This technique worked well and is still performed today in some cases. However, there are many benefits to preserving the soft tissue around the abutment. These include faster surgery time, aesthetics and leaving in place as much of the body’s natural structures as possible to help prevent infections.

If you DON’T thin the soft tissue around a pure titanium abutment, the skin heals down around it instead of bonding with it. This creates a pocket between the abutment and the skin where debris and bacteria can accumulate. It also blocks the immune system from accessing the area, so it’s not able to fight off potential infections to keep the area healthy.

Scientists knew there were benefits from soft tissue preservation but also knew that titanium alone was not the solution. So that’s the challenge that Cochlear set our research and development team – create an abutment that would bond with the surrounding soft tissue.

In 2013 we released the first abutment specifically designed for soft tissue preservation – the Cochlear Baha DermaLock Abutment (BA400). The abutment is still made of titanium, but features a special surface scientifically known as Hydroxyapatite. This is a substance that is found naturally in your body. It’s what allows your teeth to stick out through your skin and remain healthy and bonded to your gums.

Titanium surface on Baha bone conduction implant

Close up view of a smooth titanium surface. Soft tissue does not bond with titanium the same way it does with bone.

DermaLock surface on Cochlear Baha implant

Close up view of the DermaLock surface, proven to promote integration (bonding) with soft tissue.

What is DermaLock

Baha user Randi with the DermaLock Abutment. No need for hair removal or skin thinning around the area

Before we release new technology there is a lot of work and research that goes into making sure our products will improve the lives of the people who rely on a Baha System to hear and be heard everyday. And after new technology is released there are always numerous, long-term, independent clinical studies that take place to evaluate and verify the benefits. By design these studies often take years to complete. This is of course also true for the DermaLock Abutment.

And now the results are in!

Researchers at Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands have presented results that show integration actually happening in real people. They used advanced imaging techniques to study both a DermaLock Abutment and a traditional titanium abutment (used primarily by other companies) and how they react with the surrounding tissue.

They concluded that only the DermaLock Abutment achieved integration with soft tissue. This is a great achievement and proof that Cochlear’s dedication to innovation ensures people with a Baha System have access to the latest technology that helps to make hearing carefree.

“This study shows the importance of not only choosing the right Baha sound processor, but also an abutment technology that is accepted and integrated by the patient’s own tissue,” says Stina Wigren, MSc in Materials Science and biomaterials specialist at Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions. “Cochlear developed this ground breaking technology and is the only bone conduction company in the world that offers this. Strong research evidence underlies our continual improvement and innovative use of technologies.”

titanium surface on Baha abutment

This sample was taken from around a titanium abutment. The dark blue layers resemble the outer layers of skin, clearly showing that no soft tissue has bonded to the abutment.

dermalock surface on Baha abutment

This sample was taken from around a DermaLock abutment. The soft tissue has not hardened and resembles inner, living layers of skin. This indicates a bond with the DermaLock surface.

Read the whole article here.



Bone conduction in the news: used in military helmets


Bone conduction technology is nothing new – it was discovered in 1550 after all – but it’s not until now the phenomenon is starting to spread from Baha hearing devices to other fields. It’s been used in products like Google Glass and in advertising already and of course headphones. And now the military are taking note.

BAE Systems (the merge of British Aerospace and Marconi Electronic Systems) have developed a new type of helmet that enables soldiers to hear radio commands from their superiors, while wearing ear protectors.

The helmet is able to pick up radio communications and convert the audio waves using a transducer that is only the size of a five pence coin.

“We recognise that on the battlefield, auditory situational awareness is essential for armed forces personnel. With this system, the soldiers can safeguard their hearing with ear protectors whilst still clearly receiving military voice communications, to enable them to perform their roles efficiently and safely,” says Mohammed Akhmad, principal scientist at BAE Systems. “Through collaborating directly with our customer, we are able to understand their operational challenges and translate them into technical solutions.”


With the Baha 5 Sound Processor, James can hear the birds again


In the year 2000 James Lenton, from Nottingham, UK, kept getting recurring ear infections. Eventually a cyst appeared which forced him to have mastoidectomy surgery on both sides.

As his hearing deteriorated, James tried behind-the-ear hearing aids but got problems with condensation getting in and causing cross infection. He had to continually remove it and dry out the tubing. That was when he was recommended the Baha System which doesn’t interfere with the ear canals at all.

“The most difficult thing about my hearing loss was the fact that I withdrew into myself,” says James. “I would avoid people because it was such a problem to have a conversation, especially in a group. I’d just stay in the background which made me a bit depressed.”

The decision to get the bone conduction implant wasn’t hard. Now he wears his Baha 5 Sound Processor all day, every day and finds it comfortable – most of the time he barely notices it. What he does notice is the immense change it has made to his life.

“Compared to before, my hearing is now so much better. I can have a conversation and hear what is being said, the sound is much clearer and I don’t have to keep asking anyone to repeat themselves. It’s been the biggest change in my life. I can now hear the things that I remember hearing many years ago – the birds singing in the trees, the farm animals in the fields a quarter of a mile away… And when riding my bicycle I can hear the cars  coming up behind me, which makes me feel much safer on the roads.”

James uses the Baha 5 Smart App everyday.

“It`s so nice to be able to have control over what I hear, its like having my own personal sound system.”

Among other things it allows him to raise or lower the tone, add base or treble to music and block out some background noise.

Read more about the Baha 5 Smart App here

James concludes:

“Having the Baha 5 Sound Processor has really turned my life around – from someone who was quiet and withdrawn to the person I am now. I’m a lot more confident with other people, I can enjoy the rich sounds of music from pop to classical to rock. It really has opened up my eyes to a whole world that I thought I would never know again.”

Do YOU know someone in James’ situation? Do they have the typical signs of hearing loss? Suggest they contact a hearing care professional to get help as soon as possible.

Can I wear my Baha sound processor in the rain?


Question: I have a Baha BP110 Power Demo. Sometimes I get feedback when I touch it, is this how it’s supposed to be? Is it safe to wear in the rain? //Svend

Answer: Hi Svend,

Thank you for your question. If you touch your Baha sound processor, you might experience some whistling. This is perfectly normal, as your finger disrupts the sound around the microphone, thus creating a whistle. If you feel, however, that your sound processor whistles too much, it may be a matter of settings which your hearing care professional can adjust for you.

The BP110 Power has been developed and tested to withstand everyday wear and tear. However, is not completely water resistant so you should use an umbrella in heavy rain and not wear at all when taking a shower or swimming

~ Annelen Hedin, Audiology Group Manager, Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions

Listening to learn: Welcome to Cochlear’s Family Education Day in the UK

cochlear-mind-the-gap-family-dayThis year’s Listening to Learn Conference is being held in the UK and is jointly hosted with The Midlands Hearing Implant Programme (Children’s Services) in Birmingham. The two-day conference for health care professionals will be followed by  one-day FREE Family Education Day for parents, family members and carers to people with hearing loss.

The theme  is “Mind the Gap”. It stems from our focus on parent coaching and guiding, using Nucleus 6 and Baha 5 data logging, as well as the respected work of Hart and Risley (1995, 2003).

Their study showed differences in parent-child interactions that produced significant discrepancies in children’s knowledge with some children being exposed to 30 million more words than others. Follow-up studies have shown that the gaps in language and interaction experiences have lasting effects on a child’s performance later in life. The resulting gaps in vocabulary growth and language development are something that we all should be mindful of. This finding proves that the home holds the key to early childhood success.

The main conference will be held at The Studio, 7 Cannon Street, Birmingham from Thursday, 15 – Friday, 16 October with the FREE Family Education Day taking place on Saturday, 17 October.

On Saturday, 17 October, workshops and lectures will be held to help parents, family members and carers supporting their child by giving them the tools and confidence to live, learn and grow with all of life’s experiences. The programme will include discussions and development of practical skills to support their children to increase the word count in family life. This informative day also offers you the opportunity to speak with Cochlear staff regarding various topics that will interest you about your child’s Nucleus system or Baha System.

Read more here!

Am I a candidate for the Baha System?

Question: I have had hearing loss since birth. I am now 54 years old and I am struggling with my hearing. I cannot hear in one ear at all. I wear a hearing aid in the good ear. I struggle hearing conversations etc. One hearing place that I got a couple of hearing aids said they no longer help me because the hearing aid is not working for me.

So I went to my ENT doctor and after a couple of appointments he felt I would be a good candidate for the Baha device. But the audiologist I see said I wouldn’t be because my good ear doesn’t have a certain decimal for in order for the Baha System to work for me.

My question is if I am not a candidate for this, how can people that are totally deaf from birth have this done? Thank you!!


Answer: Dear Veronica,

There are many causes of hearing loss, and this will dictate which hearing solution that will be the best choice. The Baha System is mainly useful for candidates that are deaf in one ear and hear normally in the other ear – or if you have a problem in the outer or middle ear where bone conduction can bypass this problem. For people that are born deaf the cochlear implant is the solution of choice. This is also a technology that we have developed at Cochlear.

Every hearing loss is unique and your hearing care professional is trained to counsel you on how to treat it. Another option is to seek the opinion of another hearing care professional.

Best of luck!

~ Fredrik Breitholtz, Head of Training and Clinical Communication, Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions

Is a bone conduction implant better than a CROS aid?

QuestionHi, my son aged 10 has SSD and was being assessed for a cochlear implant. It was all looking positive until the CT scan showed the bone (?) is thinner than normal and they do not want to risk the surgery (somehow related to the carotid artery?). So now they are offering a bone conduction implant. He already wears a CROS aid.

My question is, will the implant be any better than the CROS device? I do not want to put him through an invasive procedure if it does the same as the CROS. Thanks.


Answer: Dear Davina,

It is impossible to say if a Baha System will be better than the CROS solution for your child, however, many candidates do try the CROS solution and later go for a Baha System. You should always discuss with your health care professional what the best option is for you.

One of the benefits with the Baha System is that you can actually try it before you go through the surgery. Your audiologist can place the sound processor on an elastic band to let your child wear it temporarily and evaluate the benefit. Once you have decided what to go for you should be aware that the surgery involved is minor and does not pose a risk to your child’s hearing.

~ Fredrik Breitholtz, Head of Training and Clinical Communication, Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions