In a nutshell: the global impact of hearing loss

Disabling hearing impairment affects more than 360 million people – over 5% of the world’s population, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). In less than 30 years, the estimated number of people affected by hearing disability had skyrocketed from 42 million in 1985 to about 360 million in 2011. WHO also warns that 1.1 billion young people (12-35 years) are at risk of hearing loss due to recreational noise.

WHO defines disabling hearing loss as “hearing loss greater than 40 decibel (dB) in the better hearing ear in adults and a hearing loss greater than 30 dB in the better hearing ear in children”.

Identifying the early signs of hearing loss is of crucial importance not only for the ones affected, but also for the global economy, which sees 750 billion international dollars lost to unaddressed hearing loss.

Interested in learning more? Check out the WHO 2017 report on the impact of hearing on the global economy.

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.

Meet the Team

The Baha® 5 and Baha® 5 Power sound processors are developed, designed and shipped from Sweden worldwide, but did you know they are also manufactured and assembled here too? The concept, design, development, testing, manufacturing, packing and logistics are all done under one roof!

Meet some of the great people who work together to design, test and manufacture the Baha System at Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions.

The Production Team

These are the people who make sure that all details are perfectly put in place so that the sound processors meet all requirements. It takes less than thirty minutes to produce one sound processor, and every fourth minute a new unit is packed and ready to be shipped!

The Research and Applications Team

Our team of audiologists and acoustical engineers are the ones who make sure that the Baha 5 sound processors and accessories are adapted to the specific needs of the recipients.

How do they do this?

By meeting hundreds of people every year to evaluate the hearing performance and benefits of the implant systems. They also manage sponsored clinical trials of the Baha system at clinics all around the world, including the largest ever clinical investigation undertaken for bone conduction hearing implants – an ongoing project that involves seven countries across Europe!

The Design & Development Team

Our Implant Engineers and Acoustic System Engineers are a small part of the team who design, develop and test our implants and sound processors, making sure that each individual component is fine tuned and works together as an entire Baha System.

The Product Management Team

Have you ever wondered how the features of your sound processor and implant have been developed to meet your needs?

Our Product Managers have a fundamental role in ensuring the voice of the customer is at the centre of all sound processor and the implant system development. From meeting with users, audiologists, ENT surgeons and educating professionals, to establishing close collaborations with research teams all around the world, they help drive product innovation that makes a difference to the lives of the people who rely on a Baha System to hear each day.

Happy 40 years anniversary from our entire team at Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions in Sweden!

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!

Celebrating More Than 35,000 Baha® DermaLock™ Users

In 2013, after years of pre-clinical research, Cochlear launched the first abutment designed for soft tissue preservation surgery – the Baha BA400 (DermaLock) Abutment featuring a hydroxyapatite surface. The new tissue-friendly abutment allowed a major change to the surgical procedure that would preserve the natural appearance and healing capacity of the skin, while reducing time in surgery.

Now, going on five years since its introduction, we are celebrating an amazing 35,000 people who hear today with a Baha Connect System that features this breakthrough technology!

Interested in learning more about the hydroxyapatite surface, the clinical evidence and science behind the technology? Here are some great links to articles and scientific publications.

Whitepaper: Breakthroughs in Bone Conduction Hearing Implants

Blog post: Proof lies beneath the surface – the DermaLock Abutment

Blog post: Prof. Stokroos guest blog on his experiences with DermaLock technology

Scientific article: Can the Hydroxyapatite-Coated Skin-Penetrating Abutment for Bone Conduction Hearing Implants Integrate with the Surrounding Skin?

Scientific article: Osseointegrated hearing implant surgery using a novel hydroxyapatite-coated concave abutment design

Scientific article: Surgical and audiological evaluation of the Baha BA400

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.

Applications Open for Graeme Clark and Anders Tjellström Scholarships

It’s finally time to apply for the prestigious scholarships offered by Cochlear Americas! The 2018 Graeme Clark and Anders Tjellström scholarships recognize values like leadership, humanity and academic achievement in students who are Cochlear™ Nucleus® Implant and Baha® System recipients. The awarded students will receive $2,000 per year for up to four years at an accredited college or university, for a total of $8,000 per student.2017scholarshipwinners_400

Picture: Scholarship winners 2017

Since 2002, Cochlear has awarded $568,000 to 80 college students. The scholarships are named after Graeme Clark, the pioneer of the multichannel cochlea implant, and Anders Tjellström, surgeon and the founding father of the Baha treatment. The Graeme Clark scholarship is an award open to Nucleus Cochlear Implant recipients around the world. The Anders Tjellström Scholarship is an award open to Baha system recipients in the United States and Canada.

For more details regarding eligibility and the submission process, check out the Application page.

The application period runs through September 30, 2017. Apply today!