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

Using a Baha sound processor with a stethoscope

stethoscope

QuestionAny suggestions for using a Baha sound processor with a stethoscope? U.K. //Julia

Answer: Hi Julia.

There are a number of stethoscopes available that are compatible with Bluetooth. Many of these can be used with a Baha 5 Sound Processor together with a Phone Clip.

Always test before you buy to verify that the devices are functioning properly. Contact the companies for more details, for example Thinklabs and Cardionics offer a 30-day trial period. Good luck!

//The Baha Blog team

Back to school with the new Cochlear Wireless Mini Microphone 2+

It’s back to school time and a perfect opportunity to learn about the new technology available to enhance your or your child’s learning experience!

Mini-Microphone-FM-Baha

The new Mini Microphone 2+ is ideal for the classroom, designed to increase a child’s ability to hear over distances and in noise. Place it on the student’s desk or the teacher’s collar to help close the gap between your child and speaker. Whether your child is sitting at their desk or working in groups, the Mini Mic 2+ automatically adapts to the situation at hand.

Baha-Mini-Microphone-FM-systemCochlear-Mini-Microphone-FM-compatible

Benefits in the classroom include:

  • Peace of mind: You and the teacher know that every child will hear every learning moment
  • Hear over a greater distance: The Mini Mic 2+ offers an improved range of listening of up to 25 meters at clear line of sight. This means as the teacher moves about the classroom there is no need to worry that the signal will be intermittent or dropped.
  • Access to better speech understanding: With the new directional microphone technology, children will have direct and clearer access to what they need to hear no matter the situation: whether the teacher is presenting or whether working in a group project with peers
  • Compatibility: The Mini Mic 2+ is compatible with other assistive technologies such as FM systems or looped classrooms where a T-Coil is needed
  • Portability: As a child moves from the home, to the classroom, to recess, to soccer practice after school, the portable Mini Mic 2+ can easily be transferred to any environment
  • All day use: The Mini Mic 2+ is designed to provide a child with a full-day of streaming (up to 11 hours)

Baha-children-FM-system-microphone

Baha user Manny’s mother tells the Cochlear Americas blog:

“Manny loves school–thankfully! He uses the Mini Microphone to hear the teacher directly in the classroom. Prior to the Mini Mic we had always used a FM system. When we were upgrading processors, we tested out a variety of options and realized the clarity of the Baha 5 Sound Processors combined with the Mini Mic far superseded the sound quality that his old processors combined with the FM system produced. Now that he is getting older, the lessened ‘equipment fuss’ at school is greatly appreciated as well.”

 

Read also: Cochlear’s handy Back to school guide for children with hearing loss!

Apple’s new Accessibility collection features the Baha 5 Smart App

Baha-5-Smart-App-true-wireless

Apple makes great efforts to raise awareness of and advocate for accessibility, especially for people with disabilities.

“We see accessibility as a basic human right,” says Sarah Herrlinger, Senior Manager for Global Accessibility Policy and Initiatives at Apple. “Building into the core of our products supports a vision of an inclusive world where opportunity and access to information are barrier-free, empowering individuals with disabilities to achieve their goals.”

On Apple’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day May 19, they updated their Accessibility apps collection, highlighting iOS apps and developers who are helping make the world better for all. The apps are categorized by need, including vision, hearing, speech, and what Apple calls “Accessible Home with Siri.” Like it does with its other app collections, Apple refreshes the accessibility one periodically. Importantly, these updates help spread the word about developers who offer great, albeit specialized, apps.

Among them is Cochlear’s Baha 5 Smart App!

Apple-Baha-App-hearing-aids

The Smart App lets you optimise your hearing experience directly from your iPhone.  You can quickly and easily change programs, adjust volume and even play around with the treble and bass. You can save custom settings for certain locations and get help finding your sound processor if you misplace it – all done smoothly and discreetly via your iPhone. If you are using a Baha 5 Sound Processor, don’t miss out on this amazing technology – download it here!

The collection is primarily available in English speaking countries like the US, Canada and Australia.

Read more: Victor loves the Baha 5 technology