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.

Baha SoundArc launches in U.S., Canada

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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.

 

 

Happy Halloween from the Baha family!

A jack-o-lantern carved with a face shaped out of the Baha 5, Baha 5 Power and Baha 5 SuperPower.

Happy Halloween from the Baha family!

 

Download these Cochlear pumpkin carving stencils here, and check out 5 tips to enjoy Halloween from The Wire, a blog for Cochlear recipients in the Americas.

Happy Halloween!

November 9 is Microtia Awareness Day

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November 9th is the first ever Microtia Awareness Day in the US, and is dedicated to spreading hope and knowledge concerning the congenital birth defect, which is named efter the Latin terms for little ears.

Approximately one out of every 8,000 babies are born with Microtia – a malformed outer ear – either on one or both sides. Children born with microtia will usually have a functioning inner ear, but as the outer and middle ear are affected, they will have conductive hearing loss. For children with microtia a conventional hearing aid is more than likely not an option, however they may benefit from a Baha solution that doesn’t require an outer ear to sit on and can bypass the problem and send sound directly to the inner ear.

The Ear Community Organization founded Microtia Awareness Day in 2016 and was submitted by the Tumblin family. Melissa Tumblin founded Ear Community in 2010 after stumbling through the hurdles and challenges of finding answers for her daughter when she was born with Microtia. Since then, Ear Community has brought over 6,500 people together from around the world at the organization’s events making it possible to share experiences and resources. The community is made up of not only children and adults with Microtia and their families, but teachers, advocates, and medical professionals from around the world who foster awareness and assistance for this amazing group of people. Board members either have the condition or a family member who does, so they have close personal experience with the obstacles from a myriad of perspectives. The Registrar at National Day Calendar approved Microtia Awareness Day in October.

Mark the calendar for Microtia Awareness Day for November 9th and think of the number 9 as the shape of an ear!

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Download the Atresia/Microtia folder here

Wearing the Baha Attract System with long hair

QuestionMy daughter is 15 and has hearing loss in one ear. She also has long hair which she likes to wear both up and down. Being a teenager, one of the things she’s really concerned about is whether she has to have any of her hair shaved off to have the Baha 5 Attract System, both for fitting and then for everyday wearing. I’ve been unable to find anything online to answer her questions. It would really help to see a video of someone with long hair wearing the Attract System and taking it on and off. Can you help or point me in the right direction?

Many thanks! // Janet

Answer: Hi Janet, thanks for your question.

Your daughter would need to shave a small area of her hair for the surgery. But in most cases it grows back with no problem.

In these videos of Jon and Cindy, you can see them putting on their magnets and sound processors. And here are a few other photos which illustrate what it looks like with the sound processor on and off:

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Here’s Destiny with her hair grown back after surgery.

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Jo from Australia chose the Baha Attract System because it was “so easy”.

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Brian’s thick hair almost completely camouflages his magnet and sound processor.

Please consult your health care professional who can recommend the right hearing solution for your daughter!

//The Baha Blog team

What’s it like living with the Baha System?

QuestionI lost all hearing in my left ear last year following a failed stapedectomy operation; resulting in total sensorineural deafness due to damaged inner ear. I have Otosclerosis and have moderate hearing loss in my right ear as well (hence the reason I went for the operation).

Since the operation I’ve been struggling to cope with having only partial hearing. After living with two functioning ears (albeit without perfect hearing) for 40 years and now being left single sided deaf is truly awful (to put it mildly).

I’ve been offered a Baha solution on the NHS and have trialled the Cochlear test ‘headband’ as well as the CROS aid. I’ve been impressed with both but found the Baha solution gave a more ‘natural’ sound and I’m feeling fairly confident that I’m going to go with it (the ‘Baha Connect’ version, not ‘Baha Attract’). I had good results from the bone conduction test (scoring 90% in the speech recognition part).

I do, however, have several questions/concerns about living with the implant and sound processor:

1) Is it painful to lie on or if it gets knocked? I’m worried that it might make sleeping difficult when I rest my head on the implant side.

2) How does the sound quality/amplification compare with the test headband? I’ve read that the real thing is better but how much louder/clearer is it eg – 10% 20% 30% more?

3) Is the Baha sound processor uncomfortable if worn all day?

4) Since losing the hearing on one side my tinnitus has become even worse. For Baha users, does it become any less noticeable in the longer term? (Why is there no cure for tinnitus yet?!!)

Obviously I will be asking the qualified people at hospital these questions and more, but it would be really helpful if I can get some answers here.

Thanks! // Drew

Answer: Hi Drew,

Congratulations on your decision of getting a Baha System! Let me try to answer your questions, one by one:

1) You will not be able to “feel” the implant, however the tissue around it may feel sore or numb right after the surgery. This usually resolves over time. You may hear some sounds as you rub the implant against a pillow or similar, but there is an abutment cover available to cover it if it bothers you.

2) This is impossible to answer exactly as it varies from person to person, however, as a rule of thumb we say that the amplification increases by about 10-15 dB when attaching the sound processor to the implant compared to the headband. The biggest increase is in the high frequencies which will make the sound clearer.

3) When the Baha sound processor is attached to the implant you will not feel that you are wearing anything.

4) Tinnitus may be caused by hearing loss like you experience. Research has shown that for some users the tinnitus is relieved when using the Baha System, however, that is nothing we can promise.

Always consult a hearing healthcare specialist who can recommend what hearing solution is best for you.

~ Fredrik Breitholtz, Head of Training and Clinical Communication, Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions

Read more: 12 golden rules for living with your Baha System

Congratulations to newlywed Baha user Camille!

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In 2013, high school student Camille Masino became our 100 000th Baha user!

Camille is a bilateral Baha user, born with Goldenhar syndrome who has overcome countless hurdles in her 22-year old life. Check out her story about being able to dance the ballet without hearing the music here.

Well – last month she got married and we caught up with her to hear all about the happy news:

Q: Camille, so you’re MARRIED! Wow, congratulations, how does it feel?
A: I LOVE being married! I married my best friend. And now I get to spend every day with him forever. We are both so happy. And he makes me so happy and feel loved. Dylan is perfect!
Q: How long have you been together?
A: We started officially dating in April of 2015. We met when we were both serving a mission in St. Louis, Missouri. We were both good friends on the mission but we didn’t get to know each other that well until we were both back in Utah going to school. We both went to a mutual friends concert. The whole night we talked. Two weeks later he asked me out on a real date on April 20,2015.

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Q: Describe your wedding!
A: We were married in the Los Angles LDS Temple. It was a beautiful day! And it was very special that we had my Grandfather marry us. You could feel the love and strength in the room we were married in. Walking out of the ceremony as Mr. and Mrs. Reay for the first time in my wedding dress was a beautiful moment. My Baha sound processors helped through out the whole day. I could hear my grandpa during the ceremony as he was marrying us. I could hear our families and friends cheering as we walked out of the temple. I was able to talk to everyone at the reception and thank them for their support. And we had a big dance party at the end of the night. My Baha devices helped me not miss a single word and be in the moment during our special day.

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Q: What has your husband said about your hearing loss?
A: My husband has been a big support to me, my hearing loss, and all of the other health challenges that I do have. I remember the first night when I told him about my Baha solution and all of the health challenges I have, his exact words that he told me were “I’ve never wanted an ordinary life, I like to do things different.” Dylan tells everyone that I have super hearing, he finds the Baha system amazing! Dylan will always tell me that my imperfections make me perfect. He is so good to me. I love him so much! And I know that he loves me too.

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Q: Do you still dance?
A: I still dance. I will always continue to dance. And now I have someone to dance with through life.
Q: What’s the next step for you two?
A: Right now we are finishing school. I am at Brigham Young University Provo, UT studying special education. And Dylan is at Utah Valley University studying marketing. Life is so good and simple right now. And maybe in a few years Dylan and I can start a family. We can’t wait to have a beautiful and unique family. We hope to have the chance to adopt some children. Our life will always be unique, but I know with Dylan it will always be happy. Dylan is my best friend and we can do anything together.

Dylan: I am so lucky to call Camille my wife. I think about how lucky I am everyday that I found someone as wonderful as she is. In my eyes, she is perfect. She has gone through so much in life, yet she is the most happiest and positive person that I know. She is beautiful inside and out. I love her so much! She is my best friend.

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