‘Lighting a candle in the dark’: Dennis reflects on his hearing journey with the Baha family

‘Lighting a candle in the dark’: Dennis reflects on his hearing journey with the Baha family

This blog was adapted from its original article on Hear and Now, a Cochlear Americas recipient blog. Read it here.


Sometimes life takes an unexpected turn and we find our “status quo” has been uprooted. When things are not going according to plan, it can be easy to feel lost.

But that does not mean it is the end. In fact, it may be a new beginning.

Meet Dennis, a Baha® 5 SuperPower recipient. He had normal hearing until 2012, when he went to the doctor because he suspected he had swimmer’s ear or inflammation.

Instead, Dennis was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma— a rare, non-cancerous tumor that presses on the eighth cranial nerve leading from the brain to the inner ear. Common symptoms include hearing loss, tinnitus and vertigo.

Doctors estimated that his tumor had been growing for about 20 years.

“As the tumor grows, it takes up space, and by the time we found it, my hearing was down to 30 percent in the right ear—nothing usable,” Dennis said. “I could hear pings and single tones, (but) I could not understand what people were saying.”

Doctors told him his treatment options were surgery or radiation. Dennis opted for surgery in April 2013 to make sure the tumor was completely removed.

Six months later, at a post-surgery follow-up with his ENT, Dennis first learned about the Baha System. That was when everything changed.

“As a test, he put a Baha [sound processor] on my head, on a metal band,” Dennis recalled. “He stood behind me five feet or so and whispered words. When I realized it was picking up the sounds I was missing, I realised I’d like to have something to ‘harvest the sound’ from the deaf side.”

He had abutment surgery in December 2013, and by February 2014 Dennis was fitted with the BP110 processor. He said it helped him to become more aware of his surroundings.

“People couldn’t sneak up beside me on my right side, and I was aware somebody was there. That was basically why I did it,” Dennis said.

In March 2017, he upgraded to the Baha 5 SuperPower. Dennis said one of his favorite features is the rechargeable batteries.

“When I wore the BP110, I was replacing the battery every ten days,” he said. “The SuperPower takes rechargeable batteries, so it actually works out better because I can get a day and a half out of a rechargeable battery. With the cost of disposable batteries, it’ll pay itself off after a while.”

Reflecting on his journey and his advice for others, Dennis compared hearing loss to navigating in the dark. It’s a lot easier when you have a light.

“Light a candle, don’t blame the darkness,” he said. “What do you have to lose?”

For more information on the Baha 5 SuperPower, click here. To find a hearing specialist near you, click here.


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.

Creative solutions: Baha SoundArc replaces patient’s outdated, uncomfortable steel headband

First released only months ago, the new Baha SoundArc is already beginning to improve hearing experience for some Baha users. For one 82-year-old user in Belgium, the SoundArc proved to be an innovative solution to the daily discomfort of an outdated steel headband.

The patient, John (not his real name), was not able to receive a Baha implant, so he instead wore his Baha Cordelle II on a steel headband. The headband became uncomfortable, painful and even created pressure wounds on his head, so he rarely wore his sound processor and instead lived with his hearing loss most of the time. His audiologist even worked together with an orthopaedic technician to modify the headband and adapt it, but still the discomfort was too much for him.

When John upgraded his sound processor to a Baha 5 SuperPower in 2017, he was already able to hear a great improvement in speech understanding. Still, he had this uncomfortable headband that kept him from wearing his sound processor much of the time and improving his day-to-day hearing experience.

A patient wears a Baha 5 SuperPower sound processor on a SoundArc.

A patient wears a Baha 5 SuperPower sound processor on a SoundArc.

The turning point came in November of 2017, when the audiologist was able to offer John the new SoundArc and attach to it his Baha 5 SuperPower. Easier on the skin and the eyes, he said it was both profoundly more comfortable and much more attractive than his old steel headband.

The audiologist, very happy with the new solution, said, “This is a textbook example of how a Baha sound processor fitting should be!” John hopes to get adjusted to wearing his Baha 5 SuperPower for longer periods of time now that he has a creative and comfortable solution.


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.

Happy World Hearing Day 2018 from The Baha Blog!

Today, 3 March, is World Hearing Day. Everyone deserves to hear what the world has to offer. Help your loved ones hear the difference today at hearingmatters.info and share the video!

Join the conversation on social media with hashtags #HearTheFuture, #WHD and #HearingMatters.

Happy World Hearing Day 2018! #HearTheFuture

Happy World Hearing Day 2018! #HearTheFuture

Hear the Future this World Hearing Day: The history and future of hearing through bone conduction

Dr. Anders Tjellström

Dr. Anders Tjellström

March 3 is World Hearing Day, observed globally and designated by the World Health Organisation. To mark the occasion, The Baha Blog has asked Dr. Anders Tjellström, the pioneering bone conduction surgeon, to reflect on the history of bone conduction and what developments the future could bring to the treatment.


By Anders Tjellström, M.D., Ph.D., D.Sc.hc

It is an old saying that to be able to look into the future you must know the past.

Hearing loss is the most common disability in the industrialised world. The World Health Organisation has estimated that more than 5% of the world population have hearing impairment, and that 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of developing hearing loss due to high noise exposure. Around 50% of people between ages 12 and 35 are exposed to excessive noise due to different types of audio devices. How do we handle this situation? The key word is “prevention.”

However, when a patient has already developed hearing loss from noise exposure, hearing devices are often the only solution. In severe cases a surgical procedure placing a cochlear implant in the inner ear might be indicated. Even if sensorineural hearing loss is the most common cause of poor hearing, there is another group of patients who have severe conductive hearing loss. Some patients with congenital malformation and chronic ear disease could be helped with surgery, but for many this is not an option. Some of these individuals cannot use a conventional air conduction hearing aid where the amplified sound is presented through a mould in the external ear canal opening. For these patients, a bone conduction device could be of great benefit.

Direct bone conduction is based on the concept of osseointegration – the process by which bone bonds directly to the surface of an implant – a term introduced by professor Per-Ingvar Brånemark in Sweden. Bone conduction treatment for hearing loss starts with an implant made of titanium placed in the bone behind the ear, onto which a transducer could be attached. The sound goes directly to the inner ear bypassing any defect in the external ear canal and the middle ear. This is called direct bone conduction, and the treatment is indicated in patients with mixed or conductive hearing loss, or single-sided sensorineural deafness (SSD).

In 1977, the first patients were treated with bone conduction at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden. This is now a routine operation all over the world, and it has been estimated that about 150,000 to 200,000 hearing impaired people have since been treated with bone conduction.

The hearing instrument and the surgical technique have of course been refined over the years. Engineers have applied modern technology to the early prototype of the 1970s, and today the sound processor is a highly sophisticated device.

Hearing technology has come a long way since the ’70s. The most recent Cochlear Baha 5 Sound Processor is the smallest bone conductor available and comes filled with many programming options that could be controlled wirelessly with the Baha 5 Smart App. It can be adjusted to fit a variety of listening situations with options like audio streaming and Bluetooth connectivity. The Cochlear Wireless Phone Clip allows hands-free use of your phone. Directional microphones make it possible to hold a conversation even in noisy places. Many of the wireless needs we encounter in everyday situations are already available in the Baha portfolio.

The Baha Attract System from Cochlear, where the sound processor is kept in place with a magnet without skin penetration, is already used by many patients. The SoundArc is also a recent addition to the Baha family. No surgery is needed as the high quality and power of the Baha 5 sound processors can overcome most of the soft tissue sound attenuation.

Cochlear is already making strides into the future with hearing technology, but where is bone conduction hearing headed? More and more of the electronic components of the sound processor have already been miniaturised and, looking to the future, could be placed in the implantable part. This means that eventually, the need of skin penetrating coupling might even become obsolete for direct bone conduction.

As bone conduction treatment evolves, more and more people will have access to helpful hearing solutions in the future. It is of course impossible to predict the future of bone conduction, but advances in the last 40 years can give us a clue to how advanced hearing technology could become just 40 years from now.


Anders Tjellström is an ENT-surgeon who performed the first surgery for direct bone conduction hearing in 1977 in Gothenburg, Sweden. He has published and presented bone conduction research at scientific conferences and surgical workshops in more than 50 countries. Tjellström remains active in the field of direct bone conduction as Professor Emeritus at the University of Gothenburg.

 

 

 

 

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.

In the News: Congratulations to 2018 Anders Tjellström, Graeme Clark scholarship winners

Eight students were awarded the 2018 Graeme Clark and Anders Tjellström scholarships.

Last week, Cochlear Limted announced the winners of the 2018 Anders Tjellström and Graeme Clark scholarships. Congratulations to the winners!

The three 2018 Anders Tjellström Scholarship winners are:

  • Monica Pasqualino (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) from Oceanside, New York
  • Elise Schiller (Trinity College) from St. Louis, Missouri
  • Carol Rynar (Canisius College) from Buffalo, New York

“Just as my Baha System opened a new world for me, I have become inspired to help others confidently navigate their life without anxiety, and to work to minimise the barriers that prevent them from engaging fully with their world because of hearing loss,” said Rynar, a Baha System recipient and an Anders Tjellström Scholarship winner. “This scholarship will help me extend this miracle of sound from me to the students I serve as a teacher.”

The five 2018 Graeme Clark Scholarships winners are:

  • Elaine Wright (Princeton University) from Tucson, Arizona
  • Tania Karas (Oxford University) from Palos Park, Illinois
  • Keenan Murphy (Manhattan College) from Bronx, New York
  • Hunter Orthmann (University of Iowa) from Iowa City, Iowa
  • Natalia Adriance (Notre Dame) from Napa, California

About the Scholarships
The scholarships, named after two pioneers of the hearing implant industry, recognize Cochlear™ Nucleus® Implant and Baha® System recipients in the United States and Canada who uphold the Cochlear ideals of leadership and humanity, and demonstrate high academic achievement. The Anders Tjellström Scholarship is named after Anders Tjellström, the research physician in the department of otolaryngology at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Sweden who collaborated with Per-Ingvar Brånemark, a pioneer in his field, to treat the first patient with a Baha device. The Graeme Clark Scholarship is named after Professor Graeme Clark, the inventor and pioneer of the multichannel cochlear implant.

Read more about the scholarships and apply here.

Read more about the 2018 winners here.

Baha SoundArc launches in U.S., Canada

Ziggy_reading_PPT

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.