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.

Baha SoundArc launches in U.S., Canada

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Cochlear’s Baha SoundArc, which had its first commercial launch in September 2017, is now available in the United States and Canada.

The SoundArc is the world’s first non-surgical, behind-the-head bone conduction hearing device, specially designed for children who are not ready for a bone conduction implant and adults who want to trial bone conduction in everyday situations.soundarc_topshot_all_colours3_PPT

“We are happy to be adding to our broad portfolio of hearing options for children with the introduction of the Baha SoundArc,” said Tony Manna, President, Cochlear Americas. “Because each child’s hearing need is unique and may change over time, we are proud to be providing innovative and technologically advanced hearing solutions to fit a child’s lifestyle across the stages of their life.”

Read the full press release here.

SoundArc is intended for children and adults with conductive hearing loss, mixed hearing loss and single-sided sensorineural deafness (SSD).  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.

To try the SoundArc, find the clinic nearest you by using this tool.

 

 

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.

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!

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!

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

 

In the news: The Baha 5 Power proves to be lifesaver for Scottish couple

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Charles Carmichael’s new hearing technology proved to be a lifesaver within weeks of being fitted.

When his diabetic wife, Eileen, collapsed at their home this summer, he was able to talk to the emergency dispatcher so they could identify if she was having another stroke.

“Her breathing was so faint, but I was able to hear her voice through my Baha [5 Power Sound Processor] and answer the responder’s questions,” said Charles who suffers from Chronic Suppurative Otitis Media (CSOM)

Struggling with hearing loss all his life, Charles was first implanted with a Baha solution on his left side in 2012. Three years later, he had his right ear fitted as well and his problems with discharging ears stopped. In June 2016 he upgraded to the Baha 5 Power and says the new technology is amazing.

“My original Baha sound processors were fantastic, but I still struggled in big groups, but with these new ones I can hear questions from the back of a room and have conversations with background music on – it’s no problem.”

Charles is his wife’s main carer and the new Baha technology now allows him to hear her clearly even when in another room.

Eileen said: “If anything happens and I need to raise the alarm, he can immediately hear me – I feel safer.”

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Read the full article