Guest blog: How the Baha System helped one mom take early action to treat her infant daughter’s hearing loss

Guest blog: How the Baha System helped one mom take early action to treat her infant daughter’s hearing loss

Hearing loss can be challenging for a newborn trying to reach developmental milestones, but mom Ashton M. decided to treat her daughter’s hearing loss, due to microtia and atresia, right away. Hazel, who just turned one year old, wears her Baha 5 Sound Processor as she begins to grow up like any other baby.

 Ashton wrote to the Baha Blog to share Hazel’s story, and to provide a few tips for other parents who are considering treating their children’s hearing loss with bone conduction and the Baha System.


At one month old, Hazel has an Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) test performed to measure her hearing.

On June 6th, 2017 at 2:00 in the morning, we were truly blessed with a perfect little girl who we named Hazel. Her dad Mike and I were over the moon to finally see her after nine long months.

With all the excitement of the delivery, there were a lot moments that seemed like a blur to me. After they weighed and measured her I finally got to hold her in my arms. I was just overcome with happiness.

In that moment I will never forget when Mike asked me if I had looked at Hazel’s left ear. I immediately lifted the cap that newborns wear and began to examine her. The nurse in me started to run down a list of possible diagnoses in my head, and then the worried mother began to set in as well. I didn’t see an opening in her ear canal, and I noticed her ear was not fully formed. Those first few days of Hazel’s life were both exciting and scary for Mike and me.

We learned that Hazel was born with a congenital condition called microtia with atresia, affecting her left ear. Microtia means she has a small outer ear, and atresia means she has no external ear canal. We were then told she was not able to hear out of her affected ear, but she tested perfect with her right ear during a screening.

Hazel is fitted with her first Baha 5 Sound Processor at 6 months old.

The day we walked out of the hospital to take Hazel home, I could hear the birds chirping and all the noise around me – and it had never seemed so loud. I covered my left ear and tried to put myself in my brand new daughter’s shoes and I began to cry. I wondered and asked myself if she will ever hear like I do.

Then came many appointments with an ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat clinician) and an audiologist. The moment we met our audiologist was the first time that I felt, “Hey, Hazel is going to be just fine!” Our audiologist performed another hearing test on both of Hazel’s ears called an Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR). Hazel’s right ear showed normal hearing sensitivity and her left ear showed moderate to severe conductive hearing loss. Our audiologist began to tell us our options from that point and educated us on a bone conduction hearing device that will allow Hazel to experience bilateral hearing.

We gave the OK to start the process of getting her fitted for her Cochlear Baha 5 Sound Processor, a bone conduction hearing device. Then the day finally came! When she was about 6 months old, she received her sound processor, which she wears on a Baha Softband headband.

She was a little overwhelmed and frightened, hearing for the first time out of her microtia ear. Until then all she ever knew was being able to hear from one side, so it took a few days for her to get used to the change. It has been a challenge adapting to the milestones of growing up as she wears her Baha sound processor, but we could not be more thankful for the brilliant minds behind the development of this device.

Hazel wears her Baha 5 Sound Processor on a Softband, adorned with a small bow.

As an infant wearing a Baha sound processor, Hazel faces a few challenges that we have to navigate, and throughout this process we’ve found some useful tips for parents like us. Here are a few tips for parents of infants wearing a Baha device:

  • Rolling on the floor sometimes leads to feedback issues. When Hazel is on her back or when she wants to roll around, we rotate the Softband so that the sound processor is on her forehead, preventing feedback.
  • Since she was very young we have put headbands on her, which has helped her get used to wearing something on her head. This has definitely been useful as she adjusts to wearing the Softband for extended periods of time.
  • Gaining more self-awareness means she wants to play with her clothes, or even pull the Softband off whenever she gets a chance. Once we put the Baha 5 Sound Processor on her, we immediately do something to distract her. When it’s out of sight, out of mind, she gets better at wearing her processor for longer periods.
  • When she is not wearing her sound processor, we also use a glasses case to store the processor while it is attached to the Softband. The white storage box that comes with the Baha 5 Sound Processor is the best solution for storing the processor on its own, but the glasses case allows more room for both the sound processor and the Softband while they are attached. As an added bonus, Hazel’s hands aren’t yet strong enough to open the case on her own.
  • So that you can easily open the Baha 5 Sound Processor’s tamper-proof battery door, designed to prevent children like Hazel from accidentally removing the battery on her own, we recommend you also store the tamper-proof tool provided in the sound processor box, or a small hairpin, together in your storage case.
  • It is also a good idea to remove the battery and store your child’s sound processor overnight in Cochlear’s Dry Aid Kit or a drying box like The Breeze by Dry & Store. Infants are messy, and doing this helps to keep moisture out of the sound processor.
  • For more tips on living with the Baha System, click here.

We are so proud of our little Hazey and so excited to see what the future brings for her! As a family, we are excited to learn about these medical advances and be on this amazing journey with the Cochlear family.

I know now that she hears every little birdie tweet, and every outside noise there is!

The opinions expressed in this blog are my own views and not those of Cochlear.


Click here to learn more about treating hearing loss in children.


Want to share your story, hearing tips or Baha advice with The Baha Blog? Let us know! Find us on Twitter at @TheBahaBlog, on Facebook at our page The Baha Blog or via email at bahablog@cochlear.com.

When losing something leads to something ‘wonderful’: Dwight’s experience upgrading to the Baha 5 Sound Processor

When losing something leads to something ‘wonderful’: Dwight’s experience upgrading to the Baha 5 Sound Processor

This blog was adapted from its original article on Hear and Now, a Cochlear Americas recipient blog. Read it here.


Dwight J. of Colorado streams a phone call directly into his Baha 5 Sound Processor.

Dwight J. of Colorado streams a phone call directly into his Baha 5 Sound Processor.

Sometimes losing something important to you turns out to be surprisingly “wonderful.” Just take it from Dwight J. in Colorado, U.S.

After a day of hiking, Dwight noticed he could not hear as well as he was used to. He reached up and discovered his BP100 Sound Processor was gone. He looked everywhere for it, but he realised he must have lost it while out on the hike.

Dwight acted quickly and called Cochlear to get a replacement. To his surprise, the representative told him Cochlear no longer offered the BP100. They introduced Dwight to the Baha 5 Sound Processor, and he knew he wanted an upgrade.

“It’s wonderful,” Dwight said after upgrading.

He said he especially likes being able to connect to his sound processor with Bluetooth, stream phone calls and stream radio directly to his sound processor while out on a walk.

Dwight also said he carries his Cochlear Wireless Mini Microphone with him wherever he goes. “I put it on whoever I’m talking to, if I’m in a loud situation, so that I’m able to hear them,” he said.

When it comes to continuing his journey as a part of the Baha family, Dwight seems thrilled.

“Cochlear culture oozes with a four-letter word: care,” he said. “They care about people.”

Dwight is a member of his local chapter of Cochlear Community, a Cochlear Americas program that connects Cochlear recipients in the U.S.


Want to share your story, hearing tips or Baha advice with The Baha Blog? Let us know! Find us on Twitter at @TheBahaBlog, on Facebook at our page The Baha Blog or via email at bahablog@cochlear.com.

 

Tech features make Baha 5 series easy to love; now it’s time for an upgrade: guest blog

By Tom de Beer, Netherlands

Cochlear Baha System recipient Tom de Beer. Submitted photo.

Cochlear Baha System recipient Tom de Beer. Submitted photo.

Some people have said to me that with a disability, following your dreams is so much harder, if not impossible. But boy, did I prove those people wrong.

My name is Tom de Beer – I’m a 21-year-old IT student from the Netherlands, and I also blog about tech. I currently hold two diplomas from community college: one in IT Support Engineering, and one in Network Engineering. I am now continuing my studies in IT & Business at Fontys University of Applied Sciences. I am also the Editor-in-Chief at Dutch Tech Blog, where I write about Apple and other major tech companies like Microsoft, Intel, Synology and more. I have worked with different PR organisations to improve the quality of my content as well. I really enjoy what I’m doing in my life. But I won’t lie. It hasn’t been very easy to get where I am right now.

I would like to share with you how I’ve managed my hearing loss, going from near-deafness at birth to bone conduction treatment and the Baha 5 Power upgrade I will receive this summer.

I was born with severe to profound hearing loss on both sides. I did not get hearing aids as a baby because it took a few years before doctors found out what caused my hearing loss. From that point I was given the benefit of electronic devices that have helped me hear.

My first hearing devices were the so-called ‘Behind-the-Ear’ (BTE) hearing aids, which I got when I was two or three years old. And they did help me to communicate with people. But I often had issues with them, one of them being that the ear pieces got constantly ‘blocked’ by an excess of ear wax my ears were producing.

I knew I wanted a solution that was more discreet. Being able to wear hearing devices without them being 100% visible doesn’t make me feel as ‘paranoid’ anymore about what people might think of me. I know what you’re thinking: “You shouldn’t have to feel ashamed of your hearing loss!” And believe me, I’m definitely not ashamed of my hearing disability. In fact, I am proud to be sharing my story.

Fast-forward to 2012, I had my annual hearing test and my audiologist mentioned something called the Cochlear Baha System. I had no idea what he was talking about. He explained to me that what made it different is the process of bone conduction: how sound travels through the bones of my skull to my cochlea. It sounded very interesting. So I went looking for more information, and finally decided to ask my ear specialist for his thoughts about it. He said a Baha System could really help improve my hearing experience. After some consideration, I finally went for it and decided to get an implant and abutment for the Baha Connect System on my left side.

In 2013 I received my very first bone anchored sound processor, after having tested two of them. I wasn’t too happy with the first one. The sound did not feel natural to me and the device felt bulky and heavy. The second one, a Baha 3 (BP110) Power was a different story. I immediately started hearing sounds I wouldn’t have heard before – for example tapping on the desk with your fingertips. I also heard conversations in certain situations better wearing this device. As exaggerated as it may sound, the experience felt like a miracle.

Two years after my first surgery, I went under the knife again to get a second implant on my right side, because I felt like I was missing something. I got the Baha 4 Sound Processor. What I found cool about it was that it supported some accessories that allow for connecting with your mobile phone.

Bilateral recipient Tom de Beer wears his Baha 3 Power on his left side and his Baha 4 Sound Processor on his right side. Submitted photo.

Bilateral recipient Tom de Beer wears his Baha 3 Power on his left side and his Baha 4 Sound Processor on his right side. Submitted photo.

Late 2017, I realised that it had been 4 and a half years since I received my first Baha processor, and it was time for an upgrade. I read about the Baha 5 family of sound processors, and I learned that they had ‘Made for iPhone’ technology. Obviously, as a tech nerd and a big Apple fan I absolutely needed that one. So I contacted my audiologist to ask him about my options. He told me I couldn’t upgrade until July, but he proposed trying one out for a few weeks. And of course I wanted to do that!

As I am writing this, I am wearing the Baha 5 Power on my left side. It is a phenomenal device. Of course, the sound quality is great. In fact, voice quality has notably improved over its predecessor. For me, another major compelling reason to upgrade is that ‘Made for iPhone’ technology I just mentioned. Setting it up is very easy, and everything else is incredibly seamless. Audio is automatically streamed to my sound processor, and I can even use my phone as a microphone. Being able to see the battery percentage of the device is a nice touch as well. Using the Baha 5 Smart app I can even adjust the low and high tones. I appreciate that bit of customisability.

But how is my daily experience? Let me start by saying that the obvious struggles are there. There are lots of moments where I have no idea what somebody is saying, and I don’t dare to ask them to repeat something. Especially if it has to be more than a few times. Luckily, in most situations people show respect for my disability and try to make me feel as comfortable as needed.

My parents, family and close friends have always supported me in a way that one might dream of. And not just when it comes to my hearing loss, but also in my ambitions to become whatever I want to become. That is also where I have proved many people wrong: that in spite of my hearing loss I still got where I wanted to be. And I haven’t even finished yet!


Tom de Beer, 21, is a tech student and blogger from the Netherlands. You can find Dutch Tech Blog at dutch-tech.nl.

Want to share your story, hearing tips or Baha advice with The Baha Blog? Let us know! Find us on Twitter at @TheBahaBlog, on Facebook at our page The Baha Blog or via email at bahablog@cochlear.com.

Final Countdown: 10 Days to Go

… until we reveal the latest innovation from Cochlear! It’s expected to become a very popular choice for people who need a non-implantable bone conduction solution or those interested in trialling bone conduction before surgery. Why? It’s comfortable, sleek and you can experience all the benefits of bone conduction hearing.

The product has been designed and developed by the Cochlear team in Sweden, who share a few words about the latest bone conduction solution.

Left to right: Linnea Agostino, Gunilla Landin, Jenny Andersson, Henrik Frylund, Stefan Magnander, Fredrik Boivie

The “Aha” Moment

“We had an “Aha” moment when we realised we should take the learnings from projects like Baha Attract and Baha Softband, and combine them into a new, fully customisable and discreet product”, says Henrik Fyrlund, Senior Project Engineer.

Simple, yet well thought-out

“What we were passionate about was finding the right design that was going to make the product perfect from an engineering perspective – the finesse of the small details! What we have today is a simple, yet well thought-out product, that can easily adapt to suit different individuals”, says Fredrik Boivie, Project Leader.

That’s when we understood how big the interest was

“In May this year we attended the Osseo 2017 Congress – the most prestigious event for osseointegrated hearing solutions – where we publicly presented our innovation for the first time. When people started storming in to our presentation booth, we understood how big the interest was. Around 90% of the participants tested the product at the congress”, reveals Jenny Andersson, Clinical Research Audiologist.

Interested to find out more about what’s coming soon? Stay tuned for updates!

What You Need to Know: 10 FAQs on the Bone Conduction Procedure

Have you tried the Baha® 5 sound processor on a Baha Softband and decided to move on with a bone conduction implant? Has your child been scheduled for the implant procedure and you need to know how to prepare?

Jennifer Brown, Clinical Product Manager at Cochlear and audiologist, answers the ten most frequently asked questions about the bone conduction procedure.

Jennifer has more than six years of clinical experience in the United States with both pediatric and adult cochlear implant recipients, and she has worked for Cochlear in a variety of roles for the past four years.

(Picture: an audiologist fits a Baha Softband on a toddler’s head. A Baha 5 sound processor is attached to the Softband)

FAQ

1. How do I prepare for the implant procedure?

The good news is that no special preparations are needed before the procedure. The procedure is fast and minimally invasive. Your physician will give you all the details to plan for a successful procedure.

2. Will the procedure be painful?

The procedure is performed under anesthesia. The type of anaesthesia – local or general – is determined by a number of factors, like age, or pre-existing conditions. Ultimately, which anesthesia is right for you is determined by you and your surgeon. Post-operatively, you may experience swelling or skin sensitivity at the implant site. Should it be necessary, your doctor can prescribe pain reliever. Always discuss the procedure and any concerns you may have with your surgeon.

3. Will I be able to go home from the hospital the same day?

In the vast  majority of cases, patients go home the same day. While rare, sometimes in the case of small children or individuals with multiple involvements, the physician may take a precaution and keep the patient over night, but this seldom happens.

4. Can I shower after the procedure?

Usually, patients are allowed to shower the day after procedure. Avoid rubbing the area when drying as this may knock off the healing cap. Cover the cap area by holding a dry towel over it. Here’s what Dr. Pete Weber said in an earlier post.

“The site will still get wet. Since the incision is now very small for Baha Connect surgery, getting the site wet is usually not an issue. Full shower when cap and packing off. The best shampoos to use are the hypoallergenic ones, such as baby shampoos. I also let my Baha Attract patients shower the next day after removing the dressing. Again telling them to pat dry the area and not rub.”

5. If I choose an abutment or a magnet system, how long after surgery until I can wear the sound processor?

Different countries have different regulations.

  • If you choose the abutment system – Baha Connect: depending on where you live it can be anywhere from two weeks to three months before receiving the sound processor.
  • If you choose the magnet system – Baha Attract: depending on where you live it can be anywhere from two weeks to five weeks before receiving the sound processor.

Your doctor will examine the implant site before fitting the sound processor.

6. Are post-operative skin infections common and how are they treated?

As discussed in question 2, there could be swelling or sensitivity at the implant site after the procedure. Post-operative skin infections might occur, although the probability is low. Most skin-related issues happen in the abutment system, because it is skin protruding. In most cases, issues are mild, and can be resolved medically after consultation with your physician. Usually, the skin issues do not affect your ability to wear the sound processor. In the rare incident of persistent skin issues, it may be beneficial to transition to the magnet system.

7. How do I know if an abutment system or a magnet system is appropriate for me?

Both of the Cochlear Baha systems are indicated for individuals with hearing loss in one ear (single-sided deafness, or SSD), or for individuals with conductive/mixed hearing loss.  Whether to choose a Baha Connect or a Baha Attract depends upon a variety of factors, including the degree of hearing loss.

The magnetic system – Baha Attract – is a transcutaneous, or an under-the-skin implant system.  It is comprised of the internal fixture, with a magnet attached to it.  Individuals with the hearing losses noted above are candidates for this system, but it is important to remember that because the sound must pass through the skin, it may be necessary to use a more powerful sound processor, like the Baha 5 Power or the Baha 5 SuperPower.

The abutment system – Baha Connect – is a percutaneous, or through-the-skin implant system.  It too, uses the internal fixture but has an abutment attached to it.  It is appropriate for individuals with SSD or conductive/mixed hearing loss, but unlike the Baha Attract system, there is no skin attenuation of the sound.   This is a great option for individuals needing more power.

In some instances, it may be possible or necessary to transition from one system to another.  For instance, if a recipient chooses the Baha Attract system, and notices a change in his/her hearing, it is possible to remove the magnet and attach an abutment to eliminate dampening of the sound through the skin and to offer more direct bone conduction. 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 the magnet can be attached.  In both instances, the recipient can likely continue to use the same sound processor.  Cochlear is the only manufacturer that allows for this flexibility based on the patient’s needs.

8. Why do I have to wait so long before I get fitted with a sound processor?

Bone bonds well to titanium, which is what the internal fixture is comprised of. To allow for osseointegration, it is recommended that appropriate healing time be allotted. In an abutment system, the surrounding skin also needs time to adhere to the abutment, to minimize skin issues. In a magnet system, it is important to wait the allotted time to give a chance for the swelling to reduce so that the patient can wear the weakest external magnet possible and still have adequate retention.

9. Will my child need a new implant as she or he grows?

No, an implant is designed for life. There are no pediatric-specific implants, abutments, or magnets. In the event that the child’s hearing changes, non-surgical options – such as a more powerful sound processor – should be tried first. Only in the event of a transition would a procedure be required, but keep in mind the same internal implant is used.

10. Will the Baha® System affect my child’s choices in sports or other activities?

A bone conduction implant is designed to allow your child a world of sound in every activity. While hearing loss is the most important factor to consider when choosing an abutment or a magnet system, lifestyle plays an important role. Some sports may be more conducive to having an under-the-skin magnet system.  It is important to choose a manufacturer that offers your child choices in hearing solutions – whether an abutment, or a magnet.

Remember, communication is key. Always discuss your options and thoughts with your audiologist and surgeon. Your hearing professional will be able to provide timely, accurate, and documented information.

“The Baha 5 Sound Processor has given me back my life, my true passion”

Shelly Shannon is a first grade teacher from Tampa, Florida. She is passionate about her work and the teacher-student exchange.

“I remember the day I woke up and I couldn’t hear. It took my life away”, says Shelly, worried she’d never be in the classroom again. She recounts the difficulties of working as a teacher affected by hearing loss and the exhaustion she’d experience after a day struggling to hear her students.

As soon as she received her Baha 5 Sound Processor, Shelly’s life came back to normal. The sounds she experiences are clear and crisp, regardless of the situation.

“We sit on the porch, listen to the birds sing, and even through the sound of the rain in the background, I can still have a wonderful conversation with my husband”, Shelly says.

With the Baha 5’s Made for iPhone technology, Shelly can easily stream music, TV shows, and video calls directly to her sound processor. Other features include the True Wireless technology, which, according to Shelly makes hearing even better. The TV streamer, the Phone Clip and the Mini Microphone simplify the experience of sound with no strings attached.

Milan from Hungary loves football and his Baha 5 Sound Processor

baha-5-user-milan-juventus

Baha 5 user and football enthusiast Milan Szente shows off his Baha 5 shirt at a recent launch event in Budapest, Hungary.

Milan was born with conductive hearing loss on both ears and has been wearing a Baha solution since he was little. Recently he upgraded from the BP100 to the Baha 5 System, and shared his experiences at the event. It was his very first time talking in front of a big audience!baha-5-small-smart

“I like the new drop-like shape of the Baha 5 Sound Processor, it is very elegant. My friends and family sometimes forget that I wear one, because it is so small! The new technology and the quality of sound are simply great. The accessories for it are very useful and make my life easier.”

Milan revealed that he uses all the Cochlear wireless accessories:

“Currently my favorite is the TV Streamer. I always keep the Remote Control around because it is very important for me. I use the TV Streamer daily, the Mini Mic approximately once a week at school, and the Phone Clip from time to time. When I start University I will probably use the Mini Mic more often, and if I get a job in the future I will use the Phone Clip more frequently – probably while driving.”

Milan enjoys both to play and listen to music. This summer he participated for the second time at the Beats of Cochlea Festival in Poland, an international music festival for hearing impaired people from around the world. He performed on the piece “The beginning” on the e-guitar, his own composition. Something he wouldn’t have been able to do without his Baha solution.

beats_of_cochlea_milan

But what Milan loves most is football – namely Italian team Juventus. He was actually inspired by the Cochlear representative in Central Europe, Antonio Sportelli.

“I am a Juventus fan because I have been inspired by Antonio, since I have met him. Antonio gave me a new nickname, because my name was ‘Milan’ and his favorite club is Juve, so he started calling me ‘Juve’. I am very proud of it. I love the football club because it is very cool and they play very good football. I am also a big fan of my hometown’s club ‘Videoton’. I usually go to matches with my father and friends.”

And his biggest dreams in life?

“I would like to work for Cochlear one day as they “gave me back hearing”, so I can hear now and always! Once in my life I would really like to watch a Juventus match live. I do find the Baha sound processors very interesting, so I would like to visit the Cochlear building in Sweden where they’re made. I would like to become as good in German and Swedish as I am in English (I have a level C1 language certification in English). There’s really no limits to what I can do.”

Read more: The Baha 5 Sound Processor is a Red Dot award winner