Video: How the Baha Connect System works

The Baha Connect System is a well-proven bone conduction hearing system. It features Cochlear’s unique minimally invasive DermaLock technology which helps preserves the hair and skin around the abutment, thus improving the aesthetics after surgery. Watch how it works in the video above.

baha-5-blond-sound-processorWatch how fitness instructor Carole’s Baha 5 Sound Processor stays on during her spinning class here.

Read more about the Baha Connect System

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.

 

 

Happy 10th birthday, Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions!

Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden

Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden

The month of March 2015 marks 10 years since Cochlear acquired the Swedish company Entific Medical AB. For a decade now, Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions has been providing people all over the world with bone conduction hearing implants.

It all started with the innovative idea to use the body’s natural ability to transfer sound.

Entific Medical was founded in 1999 as a spin-off of the Swedish dental implant company Nobel Biocare. The new company focused on their innovative, implantable bone conduction hearing solution, the Baha System, which is also based on professor Brånemark’s discovery of osseointegration.

In 2005, Cochlear, the world’s leading cochlear implant company, recognised the potential of this innovation. They acquired Entific and established a new company called Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions.

Cochlear was and is committed to bringing the latest cutting edge hearing technologies to the bone conduction implant field to help more people hear. In 2005, this meant they needed to invest fully in the company. Invest in the right people, the right prerequisites and the right place to do it.

Within a year the company with about 60 employees had moved to a new, larger facility in Mölnlycke, outside Gothenburg on the Swedish west coast, with plenty of room for the manufacturing and R&D departments to grow. Today, more than 200 people work at Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions – and the company has no plans to move.

“Gothenburg has all we need,” says Anthony Manna, President of Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions. “It has a unique combination of research and collaborations in relevant areas for Cochlear such as implant technology, sound vibrations and clinical studies. It would not make sense for us to move.”

During these 10 years, these innovations have helped more people to hear than ever before – growing the number of people who use a Baha solution from 25,000 to more than 110,000.

cochlear-celebration-2013

Living with hearing loss has more implications than just not being able to hear sounds. Social isolation is an important factor as many hearing impaired people shy away from social functions like going to a party or having dinner in busy restaurants because they can’t keep up with the conversations. For many, many Baha recipients, getting their bone conduction solution means not only restoring a sense – but restoring their life.

Julie, Baha user, UK

Julie, Baha user, UK

As Baha user Julie puts it:

“Before it felt like I was living life behind a glass door, watching other people interacting with each other. Now, when I switch the Baha sound processor on in the morning it’s like I’m back in the real world again. I can hear.”

And that’s really what it’s all about.

Can I use the Baha 4 Sound Processor with the old abutment?

Question: Yesterday I had a surgery for my second Baha implant. I know that the second Baha sound processor will be the 4th generation model (Baha 4), at least that’s what my audiologist said. Unfortunately they haven’t told me which abutment I would be getting.

I was wondering, IF they placed the older BIA300 abutment instead of the Dermalock, is it still compatible with the Baha 4 System?

It’s not that I can’t go for a Baha 3, but my audiologist promised me it would be the Baha 4, because I asked for that. Next Tuesday I have an appointment with my ear specialist (who also did the surgery), then I will ask him about it. But in case of ‘an emergency’ I’m still looking forward to your answer on my question.

Thanks in advance. //Tom

Answer: Hi Tom!

Congratulations on your second Baha device. You should expect a number of considerable advantages from having two Baha sound processors. 

The BI300 implant can come with two abutments designs, either the BIA300 series or the Dermalock series, depending on the selection of your surgeon. The good news is that the Baha 4 Sound  Processor will connect to both abutments.  So yes, regardless of the abutment choice of the surgeon, the Baha 4 Sound Processor is compatible with either one.

In fact, all our sound processors use the same “snap” connector which will fit on all Cochlear abutments since the “snap” connection was introduced some 20 years ago. Ensuring that our past, current and future patients can beneft from advances in sound processor development is very important to us. So as we continue to develop technology in the future you will be able to benefit from those advances.

Please let us know how you do with the Baha 4 Sound Processor, we are very proud of the improved hearing performance and also access to wireless technologies that are enabled with that platform.

Kind regards,

~ Mark C. Flynn, PhD Audiologist, Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions

 

Tip of the Week: The DermaLock Abutment

Every Wednesday, Mark Flynn, PhD, Cochlear’s Audiologist and Director of Research and Applications, gives his best Baha tips!

The importance of the abutment

For most people who discover they have a hearing loss and need a bone conduction solution, the main debate is which sound processor to choose. But which abutment you have is of equal importance!

Over the past year or two we here at Cochlear have made a number of key advances with the Baha Connect System. We wanted to see how we could both reduce complications and improve the cosmetic appearance of the surgical site.

In 2012, based on many years of research, we developed the DermaLock Abutment and surgical procedure. The special surface – hydroxyapatite – of the abutment is designed to attach to the soft tissue.

For most people, this means that the surgeon no longer needs to remove soft tissue or hair from the area around the abutment. This will result in a more cosmetically attractive site. The simpler surgery also means less numbness and/or pain around the abutment site.

As the Baha Connect System is such an effective method of sound transfer between the sound processor and the implant, we will continue to develop and advance the system for people who need this efficient transfer.

What it looks like -DermaLock patients after surgery.

What it looks like: DermaLock patients at various stages after surgery.

Always consult your hearing care professional regarding treatment options.

You asked… we answer

Subject: Baha Attract System
Question: What is the healing time between the Baha Attract System and the tradition implant? Another words would you get the processor quicker? Also, is the traditional system more secure than the Attract system?

// Bob

Answer:

Thanks Bob for your question.

The healing times for both the Baha Connect and the Baha Attract Systems are quite short. There have been large advances in healing times due to the development of the Cochlear BI300 implant which improves the speed of osseointegration and stability. Similarly, the Dermalock Abutment used with the Baha Connect System is specifically designed to simplify the surgical approach requiring less soft tissue removal. The exact amount of healing time required is decided by your surgeon.

Both systems have a secure connection to the sound processor. Our data from a multicentre clinical study and the clinical experiences demonstrate very good retention of the Baha Attract System in everyday activities. However, a safety line should always be worn. Some people, who participate in sports have reported that they use a stronger magnet while running for instance.

Mark C. Flynn, PhD Audiologist, Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions

Guest blog: Prof. Stokroos from Maastricht shares his experiences with the DermaLock technology

Prof. Dr. R.J. Stokroos, Otolaryngologist

Prof. Dr. R.J. Stokroos, Otolaryngologist

It is with great pleasure we introduce our first guest blogger of the Baha Blog, Professor Robert Stokroos from Maastricht University Medical Center, the Netherlands. For over 20 years he has been leading research efforts in the field of bone conduction. He is currently leading a pan European evaluation of the improvements provided by the DermaLock technology. In this post Prof. Stokroos presents his team’s experience:

“Percutaneous bone anchored hearing devices have changed hearing possibilities for many patients over the years. Since 1992 as a junior doctor, I was involved in this treatment when Baha surgery was still considered very special.

Since then, things have changed a lot. The Baha has become part of our daily clinical practice. As our clinical experience in Maastricht grew, the downside of having a percutaneous implant became apparent.

From our earlier studies we conclude that, as far as Baha surgey is concerned, less is more.

In other words, when working with the old generation of implants the less skin we reduced, the less scar tissue and the better the patient outcome. This was contradictory to what we previously had learned from our seniors, who taught us the importance of skin reduction and having immobile skin around the abutment. In fact, if there was a problem, we blamed ourselves for not thinning the skin sufficiently.

With the introduction of the new DermaLock technology, we feel skin reduction is now unnecessary. The abutment coating prevents the skin from growing down around the implant, thereby naturally keeping it in place.

The clinical impression has been extremely promising. The new technique in combination with the DermaLock has quickly gained wide global acceptance.

Our job as academics is to confirm all these great developments. A pan European effort has been assembled with centers from France, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands to compare outcomes when using the traditional surgical technique to the latest surgical technique with the DermaLock Abutment.

Our clinical impression is that this is a major step in improving patient outcomes. Soon we will start analysing results. I’ll keep you posted!”

~ Prof. Dr. R.J. Stokroos

Do you have a question for Prof. Stokroos? Let us know in the comments section!