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.

Cochlear announces the release of the Baha® SoundArc

News from Cochlear

The latest non-implantable bone conduction innovation from Cochlear is here! The Baha SoundArc is a new hearing solution for people who live with conductive hearing loss, mixed hearing loss or single-sided sensorineural deafness (SSD). It 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.

Picture: Baha SoundArc. Available in sizes S, M, L, and XL. The color tips are not available until CE marked.

“All previous non-surgical devices have used the head or ears to aid in retention. With the Baha SoundArc we needed to find a way to deliver excellent sound quality, power performance and fit all different head shapes and sizes – without compromising on comfort”, says Mats Dotevall, Director of Design & Development at Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions AB (CBAS).

With the introduction of the Baha SoundArc, Cochlear adds another unique device to its broad portfolio of bone conduction hearing options. The aesthetically appealing and easy-to-wear Baha SoundArc works together with all of Cochlear’s Baha 5 sound processors.

Picture: The Baha SoundArc is an excellent option for children who are not ready for a bone conduction implant

The Baha SoundArc is expected to become a popular choice for both adults and children. User satisfaction was tested during a first experience program in a number of selected clinics in the UK from April to June 2017. The reported results were excellent, with an overall satisfaction rating of more than 85% in take-home trials.

“For us it’s not about a one-size fits all approach, it’s about innovating and making sure our customers have options that fit both their lifestyle and their stage in life”, says Rom Mendel, President of Acoustics at CBAS.

The availability of the Baha SoundArc will differ from country to country. Please check the availability in your country with your local Cochlear office.

Read the press release here.

Second Decade of Baha Technology

1987 – 1997:  more innovation, new countries and the first five thousand patients

Thirty years ago, bone conduction technology was emerging as the treatment of choice for people suffering from conductive hearing loss. Thanks to the excellent results observed from the fitting of the first patients starting in 1977, the development of the bone conduction implant system continued to grow. The interest and awareness of the intervention spread across Europe throughout the 1980’s, with increasing numbers of clinical reports revealing positive outcomes in implant recipients. In the UK, the Netherlands and Sweden in particular, the treatment became more common and part of a choice of options available to people with hearing loss.

The world’s first bone conduction sound processor, the HC-100, which became commercially available in 1985, was followed up by an improved version in 1988 – the HC-200. Within a few years another new processor was launched, the Classic 300, followed closely by the Baha 360 model. Both new processors took considerable steps toward increasing the ease of use of the system.

The Classic 300 Sound Processor was launched in 1993

The Baha 360 sound processor, launched in 1995, was a smaller version of the Classic 300 (pictured). It was the industry’s first miniaturised sound processor and took a big step toward offering a more discreet design that would help users feel more confident when wearing the device. Patients who were fitted with a bone conduction hearing system in the 1990’s reported increased comfort as compared to conventional hearing aids. ¹

A very important milestone was reached in 1996, when the FDA approved the use of the Baha System in the USA. The result of opening such a big, new market was simply amazing – by 1997, five thousand people were hearing better with the help the Baha System!

The year of 1997 was also marked by another crucial event – the launch of the Baha Cordelle. It was the world’s first super power device, designed for people with more severe hearing loss, and was suitable for people with up to 65 dB SNHL. This meant that people who had struggled to hear, despite attempts with hearing aids, would now have access to power levels high enough to compensate for their hearing loss. The Baha Cordelle was also equipped with the first generation of snap coupling that improved the connection between sound processor and implant.

The Baha Cordelle (right), launched in 1995, is the predecessor of the Baha 5 SuperPower Sound Processor (left), launched in 2016.

In the next article, read about the third decade of bone conduction hearing.

 

Sources:

  1. “Baha – A Third Option for Otosclerosis”. Nobel Biocare International Updates 2/96. Volume 5, No.2, 1996, pp. 3

The world’s first recipient of a bone conduction implant celebrates 40 years of hearing

News from Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions

Mona Andersson had suffered from hearing loss for more than 30 years before she could hear again. In 1977, thanks to a medical innovation developed in Gothenburg, her hearing capacity was dramatically improved. Today, forty years later, 150, 000 people have regained their hearing with a bone conduction implant.

img_3561(Photo: Anders Tjellström and Mona Andersson)

Hearing loss is a major public health issue and its impact is set to increase. More than 360 million people live with disabling hearing loss and this figure is set to increase significantly. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) there will be 1.2 billion people living with disabling hearing loss in 2050. Every year on March 3, WHO celebrates the World Hearing Day, an advocacy event that calls for international action to address hearing loss. This year’s event campaign “Make a sound investment” reveals that unaddressed hearing loss costs the global economy a staggering $750 billion annually.

In Sweden alone, about 1.4 million people suffer from hearing impairment, of which 700, 000 need to use hearing aids, according to Hörselskadades Riksförbund, the National Association for Hearing Impairment in Sweden.

Forty years ago, an innovation from Gothenburg created a new industry that was set to restore hearing in many people affected by hearing impairment. Gothenburg resident Mona Andersson was one of those people.

The innovation is based on the concept of osseointegration, a process discovered and coined by Professor Per-Ingvar Brånemark, when in Gothenburg in the 1960s, he serendipitously discovered that titanium completely fused with bone. The discovery of osseointegration led to the development of the bone conduction hearing implant, pioneered by Anders Tjellström, surgeon and Senior Lecturer at Gothenburg University and member of Brånemark’s research team, in collaboration with Bo Håkansson, Professor at Chalmers Institute.

Already in early childhood, Mona was suffering from bilateral chronic ear infections, caused by scarlet fever. Her natural capacity to hear had dropped dramatically and it was not long before she had serious problems with her hearing. At the age of 15, Mona received her first hearing aid, which improved her hearing slightly, at the cost of constant headaches and embarrassment. When she started working at a plastic factory, she realised that exposure to warm temperatures affected her hearing even more.

She reached a turning point in 1965 when she became a mother.

“I struggled to communicate with my daughter in the first years of her life. I had nothing to lose when I accepted Dr. Tjellström’s proposal to receive a bone conduction implant”, says Mona.

In 1977, Mona underwent the world’s first bone conduction implant surgery, performed by Dr Anders Tjellström at Sahlgrenska University Hospital. The implant was specifically designed for patients affected by conductive hearing loss, like Mona. Today its application has increased to treat other types of hearing loss.

“For the first time since childhood I could hear birds singing”, she told Dr. Tjellström when she received her implant. Sounds like the buzz of a fly or ice cubes clinking in a glass, suddenly became new experiences for her.

Forty years after the surgery, Mona celebrates not only functional hearing, but hearing capacity that has gone beyond what most “normal hearing” people can experience. The latest technology, developed in Gothenburg by Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions, allows the recipients of a bone conduction implant to stream sound from their phones directly to their ears.

“Bone conduction technology has come a long way. Today, Mona is using a sound processor that has the capacity to adapt to different noise environments, something we had never imagined possible all those years ago”, explains Dr. Tjellström.

More than 150, 000 people worldwide benefit from Gothenburg invention

The bone conduction implant system was approved in Sweden ten years after Mona received her implant. In 1993, the Gothenburg-based Nobel Pharma, whose bone conduction business later became Entific, started commercializing the product. In 2005, international hearing implant manufacturer Cochlear Ltd bought Entific and named it Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions, based in Mölnlycke. Today, more than 150, 000 people hear thanks to a bone conduction implant.

“We created the world’s smallest sound processor that is also the first ever to connect wirelessly to electronic devices, allowing users to stream sound directly to the ear. Gothenburg is a unique centre of innovation, where we can benefit from all the expertise, technology, and research of the region, helping us to constantly evolve our industry”, says Rom Mendel, President Acoustics & Managing Director at Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions.

Most hearing specialists agree that bone conduction hearing systems are an effective solution for patients with conductive hearing loss, mixed hearing loss or single-sided deafness.

“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.

Why is my sound processor picking up cell phone updates?

QuestionI have a new Baha 5 Power Sound Processor. It seems to pick up my cell phone updates and chimes twice every time I get an update. People in the room can hear the chimes and it is very frustrating. I have turned off the Bluetooth app on the phone and it still chimes. Please help me stop the continuing chimes. // Luke

Answer: Hi Luke, thanks for your question.

The reason your sound processor picks up chimes from your cell phone is that it is paired to your iPhone, and by default all audio (incl. phone calls, notifications and music) is streamed directly to your sound processor.

It is difficult to provide a specific solution but I will provide a general answer below:

You can adjust which sounds are streamed to your sound processor on a “global” or “local” level (i.e. you can decide whether all or none of the sounds should be streamed or you can specify which sounds should/should not be streamed).

Global: On your iPhone, go to Settings/General/Accessibility/Hearing Devices and tap ‘Audio Routing’ to adjust settings on a “global” level. Keep in mind that if you turn off for instance ‘Call Audio’ routing, phone or FaceTime calls will no longer be streamed either. Similarly, turning off ‘Media Audio’ prevents any music, video or game audio to be streamed.

Local: You can also set which, if any, sounds you want to use for updates by going to Settings/Sounds and scroll down to ‘SOUNDS AND VIBRATION PATTERNS’. By selecting ‘None’, there will be no chimes to stream to the sound processor.

If the chimes are related to specific apps, you may be able to adjust this if you go to Settings and scroll down to the app in question. The ability to change app notifications depends on the respective app developer and is not controlled by Cochlear.

I hope some of this will answer your question. Best of luck!

Carl Uvesten, Product Manager Connectivity, Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions

Using the Baha 5 with landline telephone

QuestionHi can you please advise which landline phone I could use? I have the Baha 5 Sound Processor and the Phone Clip. Or is there an accessory that I can purchase? Thanks! // Tracey

Answer: Hi Tracey. You can connect the Phone Clip to your landline phone system as long as it has Bluetooth capability. We recommend you take your Phone Clip into the store and ask the staff to help you connect it before purchasing a new landline phone. That way you can be sure it is compatible.

You might find this post helpful: Please help me adapt my Phone Clip to my office phone system

Best of luck!

//The Baha Blog team