Following Shay’s hearing journey: from Softband to implant at age 11

Michelle and her daughter Shalynn, 11

Michelle and her daughter Shay, who wears a Softband.

By Michelle Robinson

When my daughter Shay was around one year old, I noticed that she was not reacting to loud noises like other children, so I decided to take her to have her hearing checked. Her family and I found out that she had moderate hearing loss in her right ear and that she had had it since birth. Although doctors did a hearing test when Shay was a newborn, we were not informed at the time that she failed it.

A short time after learning of Shay’s hearing loss, we made an appointment with our local ear, nose and throat specialist. The specialist confirmed that she had moderate hearing loss and nerve damage to her right ear. She needed a hearing aid. Shay received her first among many hearing aids at the age of two. In the years that followed, she has had several hearing exams, but due to her young age we were uncertain about what she was truly hearing.

When Shay was nine and a half I took her in for a routine hearing check, where we found out that her hearing loss was much more severe than we had thought. We learned she couldn’t hear voices and typical speech patterns. It turns out a normal hearing aid was not working for her at all.

My heart sank with this news. Shay not being able to hear out of her right ear was a huge concern: she was struggling in school because she couldn’t hear the teacher; it was difficult for her to ride her bike or play outside because she couldn’t hear when a car was coming up behind her.

The doctor explained to us the process of bone conduction, and he said he believed Shay would be a perfect candidate for the Baha System. We made an appointment right away with the Michigan Ear Institute. Doctors there confirmed that she has severe mixed hearing loss (a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss) in her right ear, and that a normal hearing aid would not work for her. We discussed the Baha System and decided that it would be our best option.

After doing some investigating I learned about the Baha Softband, normally used for very young children. Shay has had the Softband for a little over a year now. It was like night and day: finally, she could hear! I’ve included a video of her hearing with the Softband for the first time with this blog. After a little more than a year and after seeing the difference it has made in her life, we knew it was time to replace the Softband. This December at the age of 11, Shay will have implant surgery to start her new life with the Baha Connect System. She is so excited to keep hearing better!

Michelle Robinson lives in Cheboygan, Michigan, U.S., and is the mother of 11-year-old Baha recipient Shalynn Robinson.

Join Cochlear in celebrating National Microtia Awareness Day!

This post was originally written for The Wire, a blog for Cochlear Americas recipients.

November 9th, National Microtia Awareness Day in the U.S., is dedicated to spreading knowledge and hope about microtia, a congenital birth defect which derives its name from the Latin term for “small ear.” Approximately one child in every 9,000 is born with microtia in which the appearance of one or both of the outer ears is affected with a smaller, or abnormally shaped, ear or sometimes, no ear at all. Microtia is often accompanied by atresia, which is the absence or closure of the external auditory ear canal and results in hearing loss in the affected ear.

National Microtia Awareness Day’s purpose is to educate the general public about this rare condition and provide support to families who may have a child affected by microtia. Depending on where families live, medical professionals may be very knowledgeable about the condition and can quickly educate and reassure parents. In other regions, the condition is rare enough that misinformation may lead to unnecessary concerns about their child’s future.

Creating awareness, acceptance and reducing the stigma associated with microtia and atresia, along with medical and technological advances has improved the lives of those living with these conditions. Ear reconstruction and prosthetics may be available options for children born with microtia. Hearing loss in the affected ear may be helped with bone conduction hearing devices, such as Cochlear’s Baha sound processor. Whatever path a parent chooses for their child’s individual needs, they will benefit by the resources and support that’s now more readily available through enhanced awareness.

National Microtia Awareness Day was established in 2016 by Melissa Tumblin, founder of Ear Community. As a parent of a child with microtia and atresia, Melissa founded Ear Community in 2010 to provide information, support and resources for all of those affected by these conditions. Since its inception, Ear Community has brought together over 6,500 people from around the world through its events and its online community to share experiences, knowledge and resources. Cochlear is proud to support the important work of the Ear Community and we invite you to learn more here.

Please help raise awareness and share your support on social media by using #MicrotiaAwarenessDay.

Read stories from children with microtia who have been helped to hear: Paige, Sixten, Eliana, Alana, and more here.



Happy Halloween from the Baha family!

A jack-o-lantern carved with a face shaped out of the Baha 5, Baha 5 Power and Baha 5 SuperPower.

Happy Halloween from the Baha family!


Download these Cochlear pumpkin carving stencils here, and check out 5 tips to enjoy Halloween from The Wire, a blog for Cochlear recipients in the Americas.

Happy Halloween!

Baha Attract improves hearing for first ever patient in China

Patient in audiology clinic is fitted for the first Baha Attract clinical trial in China.

A patient is fitted for the first Baha Attract ever in China.

The first ever patient to receive the Baha Attract System in China had his Baha 5 Power Sound Processor switched on last week, on the 17th of October. The surgery, performed on the 21st of September, and last week’s fitting mark the successful launch of a clinical trial in China.

The patient said he is very pleased with the improvements he heard after switching on the Baha 5 Power Sound Processor. The patient’s father, who was present at the fitting, said it was clear the Baha Attract System has made an obvious difference to his son’s hearing. The patient was fitted by audiologist Wang Suju at the otolaryngology clinic of Peking Union Medical College Hospital in Beijing.

“The surgery marked three important milestones,” said Xinyu Li, Cochlear general manager in China. “The first ever Baha Attract surgery in China, the official start of the first ever Cochlear Sponsored clinical trial in China, but most notably, an important step in changing many people’s lives for the better.”

The surgery, performed by Prof. Gao Zhiqiang in Beijing, was the first among several scheduled throughout the country for the clinical trial, which aims to bring the Baha Attract System to broad availability in China.

Read more about the Baha Attract System here, and the Baha 5 Power Sound Processor here.

Read more stories from Baha Attract users: Paige, Skylar, Jon, Beata and Harsha.

Baha SoundArc FAQs Answered

Picture: Baha® SoundArc will be available in five colours – pink, turquoise, green, grey and brown. The default colour is black. The color tips are not available until CE marked.
Picture: Baha SoundArc can be easily worn with eye-glasses
Picture: Baha SoundArc is a great non-implantable bone conduction solution for children who are too young or not ready for a bone conduction system

1. When will the Baha SoundArc be available?

The Baha SoundArc is CE marked and FDA cleared. Exact commercial availability dates will vary from country to country. Please contact your local Cochlear representative for information specific to your location.

2. Who is the Baha SoundArc for?

Baha SoundArc is intended for children and aduls with conductive hearing loss, mixed hearing loss and single-sided sensorineural deafness (SSD). It can be used as a demo tool when trialling for a bone conduction implant, or as long-term solution for patients who cannot or do not wish to move forward to an implanted bone conduction system.

Baha SoundArc is an effective non-surgical way to experience bone conduction hearing, and an important first step to hearing your best with a bone conduction implant.

3. Where can I trial or get the Baha SoundArc?

The Baha SoundArc is dispensed by your hearing healthcare professional. Find the clinic near you by using this tool.

4. How much does the Baha SoundArc cost?

Pricing will vary from country to country, but is expected to be similar to other non-surgical wearing options currently on the market.

5. What sizes is the Baha SoundArc available in?

The Baha SoundArc is currently available in four sizes – S, M, L, XL.

6. Can I wear the Baha SoundArc with glasses?

Absolutely! The Baha SoundArc should sit behind the head, above the ears, leaving plenty of room for use with eye glasses.

7. Can the Baha SoundArc be fitted with two sound processors?

Yes. You only need to add a second Connector Disc to make it suitable for bilateral use.

8. What sound processors can be used with a Baha SoundArc?

The Baha SoundArc is compatible with all Baha 5 generation sound processors – Baha 5 Sound Processor, Baha 5 Power Sound Processor and Baha 5 SuperPower Sound Processor.

9. Is the Baha SoundArc covered by insurance?

Insurance coverage or reimbursement may vary from country to country. Contact your healthcare provider for more specific information.

10. When will the colour tips be available?

The color tips will be available when CE marked. Check with your local Cochlear representative.

11. How do I choose between the Softband and SoundArc?

Both solutions are equally effective and the choice should be based on your preference and what device delivers the best fit for you. Please note that the Baha Softband may be a better solution for infants and toddlers that spend a lot of time laying down or in car seats, as well as for some patients with significant craniofacial abnormalities.

12. What is the care and maintenance required for Baha SoundArc?

The Baha SoundArc is a durable solution that can be easily cleaned with soap and water or germicidal wipes. The Baha SoftWear™ Pad should always be used when wearing the SoundArc and replaced regularly as needed.

This is how bone conduction treats hearing loss

When left unaddressed, hearing loss has a tremendously negative global effect, according to a 2017 World Health Organisation report. Identifying the early signs of hearing impairment is the first step to addressing a problem for which, fortunately enough, there are solutions. Treatment is available for virtually all types of hearing loss and can consist of medications, hearing aids, or a hearing implants, depending on which part of the ear is affected and the degree of hearing loss.

A bone conduction implant is a recommended treatment for conductive hearing loss, mixed hearing loss and single-sided sensorineural deafness (SSD). Cochlear’s two bone conduction implant systems – Baha® Connect and Baha Attract – are both indicated for individuals with conductive hearing loss, mixed hearing loss and SSD.

As explained in a previous post, choosing between a Baha Connect and Baha Attract System depends upon a variety of factors, including the degree of hearing loss.

Baha Connect – the abutment system – is a percutaneous or through-the-skin implant system. It consists of an implant, abutment, and sound processor. A well-proven bone conduction hearing system, the Baha Connect System features the minimally invasive DermaLock™ technology, which facilitates the preservation of the hair and skin around the abutment, helping you heal and hear sooner.

Baha Attract – the magnetic system – is a transcutaneous, or an under-the-skin implant system.  It is comprised of an implant, a magnetic attachment and sound processor. The Baha Attract System is a highly effective bone conduction hearing system designed to leave the skin intact.

Transitioning from one system to another may be possible in certain circumstances. For instance, if a person chooses the Baha Attract System, and there is a sizeable change in his or her hearing, it is possible to remove the magnet and attach an abutment to provide a direct to the implant which can provide more power. Conversely, if a recipient needs to transition to a completely under-the-skin system because of lifestyle or soft tissue concerns, the abutment can be removed and an implant magnet can be attached.  In both instances, the person can almost always use the same sound processor.

Cochlear is the only manufacturer that provides this choice and flexibility, based on the patient’s needs.


Hearing loss types that can be treated with bone conduction

The types of hearing loss are classified by the part of the ear that is damaged or not functioning correctly. Hearing loss caused by problems in the outer ear and/or middle ear are referred to as conductive hearing loss. When the cause is problems with the inner ear (cochlea) it is referred to as sensory hearing loss, and when caused by the auditory nerve it is referred to as neural hearing loss. It most cases, sensory and neural hearing loss are grouped together and referred to as sensorineural hearing loss.

The degrees of hearing loss are classified as:

  • Mild hearing loss makes hearing soft noises and understanding conversations in noisy environments more difficult
  • Moderate hearing loss means an inability to hear both soft and moderately loud noises. Discerning speech becomes very difficult if there is background noise
  • Severe hearing loss makes even one-on-one conversations difficult without a hearing aid
  • Profound hearing loss means only some very loud noises are heard. A hearing aid is essential


Conductive hearing loss

Conductive hearing loss describes hearing impairment in the outer ear or middle ear. It occurs when the sound vibrations cannot be conducted to the inner ear (the cochlea) through the outer and middle ear. You can easily mimic conductive hearing loss by simply plugging up your ears with your fingers – and there you have it! You will be able to understand speech, but only if it’s loud enough and if the background is not noisy. In many cases, and depending on the degree of hearing loss, a bone conduction implant – like the Baha 5 System – is the recommended treatment.

Sensorineural hearing loss

Typically occurring as you get older, although people can be born with this type of loss, sensorineural hearing loss affects the inner ear – the cochlea, or the auditory nerve. People who suffer from sensorineural hearing loss might perceive sounds, but they don’t always understand what people are saying.

Single-sided deafness falls under this type of hearing loss, describing unilateral profound sensorineural hearing loss – no hearing or very little hearing in one ear, and normal hearing in the other ear. This type of hearing loss is typically treated with a bone conduction system.

Mixed hearing loss

This type of hearing loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. Damage in both the outer or middle ear and in the inner ear is present. This type of hearing loss ranges in severity from mild to profound. People who suffer from mixed hearing loss describe sounds as being both softer in volume and more difficult to understand. Mixed hearing loss can also be treated with a bone conduction system, depending on the degree of hearing loss.

In the next article, read about the bone conduction solutions recommended for the treatment of conductive hearing loss, mixed hearing loss, and single-sided deafness.

  1. Global costs of unadressed hearing loss and cost efectivess of interventions
  2. What is hearing loss?