Am I a candidate for the Baha System?

Question: I have had hearing loss since birth. I am now 54 years old and I am struggling with my hearing. I cannot hear in one ear at all. I wear a hearing aid in the good ear. I struggle hearing conversations etc. One hearing place that I got a couple of hearing aids said they no longer help me because the hearing aid is not working for me.

So I went to my ENT doctor and after a couple of appointments he felt I would be a good candidate for the Baha device. But the audiologist I see said I wouldn’t be because my good ear doesn’t have a certain decimal for in order for the Baha System to work for me.

My question is if I am not a candidate for this, how can people that are totally deaf from birth have this done? Thank you!!

//Veronica

Answer: Dear Veronica,

There are many causes of hearing loss, and this will dictate which hearing solution that will be the best choice. The Baha System is mainly useful for candidates that are deaf in one ear and hear normally in the other ear – or if you have a problem in the outer or middle ear where bone conduction can bypass this problem. For people that are born deaf the cochlear implant is the solution of choice. This is also a technology that we have developed at Cochlear.

Every hearing loss is unique and your hearing care professional is trained to counsel you on how to treat it. Another option is to seek the opinion of another hearing care professional.

Best of luck!

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

Baha user Nancy: With the Baha System I can even enjoy the wind!

Nancy-Baha-Cochlear-hearing-loss

Nancy Von Eilbergh has had hearing loss in both ears all her life. She struggled for 50 years until she finally got the help she needed. Here she tells us about her journey.

“My name is Nancy. I am a wife, mother and nurse. When I was seven years old, it was discovered I had cholesteatomas in both ears. They were benign, slow but aggressively attacking tumours, destroying the bones in my inner ear that allow us to hear.

My hearing loss treatment started with hearing aids, which seemed to amplify everything behind me more than in front of me. Socially it was difficult because I would constantly misunderstand people. In school, the teachers would forget about my hearing loss and have their backs to me, talking to the chalk board so I was not able to lip read.

Hearing aids weren’t enough

I continued to wear hearing aids throughout high school. Then one day my dog ate my hearing aids (yes, really!), and I decided to go without them for a while. I went on to nursing school and was able to get through it with a specialised stethoscope and start my nursing profession.

I managed alright until my early 30’s. Then I went back to hearing aids until about two or three years ago.  They were not working adequately; the mould would not sit properly in my left ear canal, and the right aid was not amplified enough. Originally I was told I was not a candidate for bone conduction hearing implants. This devastated me.  I was at the point of considering retiring from my job as Nurse Manager because my hearing didn’t work effectively.

Tested bone conduction before surgery

Then I saw an ENT physician who said I may be an ideal candidate for the Baha System after all.  I got an evaluation, and a Cochlear representative came out for my test.  I threatened to run away with the test rod – I was so amazed and excited by what I could hear!  I told my physician to sign me up yesterday.

I spoke in length with the representative, my physician and my husband. I wasn’t concerned about pain. I was a little anxious about anaesthesia but felt very comfortable with all the answers I received. I trusted the doctor and the product.  Overall, it was an easy decision because I figured at this point my hearing levels couldn’t go anywhere but up.

I looked at one or two other bone conduction products, mostly from a repair standpoint.  My hearing aids were always getting repaired.  I had a tight relationship with my hearing aid manufacturer because they were local, and I could bring my aids in for repair the same day.  I was concerned about shipping out my sound processor if repairs were needed.  I researched Cochlear’s history, how long Cochlear has been involved in hearing solutions, and hands down it was the best choice for me.

In February, I was implanted on my left side, and in April on my right side.  When I received my Baha sound processors, it was almost surreal. The Cochlear representative asked what music I wanted to hear first, and I told her I wanted Cat Stevens. When she played it, my face broke into a grin; I was off in my own world.  It was like my favourite music was being played by the philharmonic, and it was just me and the music.  I would have been happy if everyone just left for a moment.

Nancy-Mini-Microphone-Baha-wireless

Wireless accessories

Then we started programming the sound processor and the wireless accessories.  My son took the Mini Microphone and walked down the hall, and I could hear him say “Hi mom” with the physician in the room talking.  It is still such a great memory. Now I also use the Phone Clip which works very well for me.  It delivers people’s voices directly to my sound processor, bypassing surrounding noise and allows me to hear phone conversations clearly.  It’s a godsend, especially when I am on-call for work.

Getting the Baha System has been nothing short of a miracle!  I have never heard this well before. I have a new lease on life.  My brain had to adjust a bit – what not to listen to, what to listen to – but it’s been fairly easy for me.

Hearing improvement

My family has definitely noticed an improvement in my hearing.  My husband even jokingly tells me he wants me to take it off because I can hear when he mumbles.  My family can talk to me without yelling.  I don’t have to ask my son to repeat himself; I pick up 99% of what he says.  At work, I can definitely tell the difference.  I can be in next room and carry on conversations instead of being in the same room and missing it all – it’s phenomenal!  Even today, I stopped and noticed the sound of my shoes on the carpet.

I have been able to successfully continue my job as a Nurse Manager. People can’t believe I use hearing devices.  They’re less obvious than my hearing aids because my hair hides them, and I hear better now so people don’t need to repeat themselves. That’s amazing to me!

baha5-colors-copperNancy with the Baha 5 Sound processor in copper

I love kayaking, although I typically don’t wear my sound processors while I do it. I do use them up to the point of going in the boat because I love to hear it gliding into the water. I love to be outside and walk, hearing the sound of the rustling of trees. Those are things I missed tremendously. The sound of rain on the car is just something you take for granted. And when it comes back, it’s amazing.

With my old hearing aids, the sound of the wind felt like I was on the wing of a Boeing 747.  With my Baha sound processors, I can actually enjoy the wind. I’m social, I love talking with people.  I have a good sense of humor, and now I don’t have the miscommunication that I experienced prior to the surgery.

For people who ask what it is, I tell them my Baha System is an incredibly cool piece of technology. I explain how it works and show them what it looks like.  I have also chatted with a few people on Facebook, mostly with parents of young kids.  To me, that’s the most fabulous thing in the whole world, to consider how to improve your child’s hearing.  I think to myself how much easier life is when you can hear, and it blows me away.

Choosing Cochlear has been a great decision.  The Cochlear representative was wonderful both pre-op and post-op.  She was and still is incredibly helpful.  The online support has been wonderful, my orders have always arrived very quickly.  I’ve just had very positive experiences with Cochlear.”

 

Watch Nancy’s Baha story here

 

Outcomes may vary. Results from case studies are not predictive of results in other cases.

 

In the news: Insights from the Maker of the Smallest Implantable Hearing Device

baha-5-cochlear-smallest-sound-processor

Qmed has an in-depth article about the Baha 5 Sound Processor and Smart App where they feature an interview with Mats Dotevall, Director of Design & Development, Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions, Sweden.

Dotevall begins with explaining the difference between hearing aids, cochlear implants and bone conduction hearing solutions, and how the latter actually work:

“[A Baha System] is for people that have some sort of issue with the outer ear, the ear canal, or the middle-ear bones […] Basically, your inner ear might be very healthy but sound doesn’t reach it. So what we do is put an implant into the skull that integrates with the bone tissue. It vibrates and helps transmit sound to the inner ear. A sound processor picks up sound, amplifies it, and then vibrates the skull bone. The inner structure of the ear, the cochlea, and the hair-like stereocilia in the inner ear also vibrate. In that way, you can bypass the standard way of sound coming through the inner ear.

There is also another indication where the device is used: single-sided deafness. One side is completely deaf, which can be quite a big handicap in social environments, in the car, and so forth. For those patients, we put the device on the deaf side and then vibrate over to the hearing side.”

Qmed: How did the company make this the smallest bone conduction sound processor on the market?

Dotevall: “The key engine in all of this is the electromagnetic vibrator, which is small and it is driven by a small hearing device battery. We are using a different kind of architecture. The previous architecture had a simple design but it was asymmetrical. We made it symmetrical, which makes it more difficult to manufacture. Having this architecture makes the device much more efficient. With the same battery size, power output, and the same force from the vibrator, we could reduce the size substantially.”

Read the rest of the article here

When is a bone-anchored implant the right choice for my child—and why choose this option over traditional hearing aids or a cochlear implant?

This month’s ASHA (American Speech-Language-Hearing-Association) Leader’s top article is directed to parents who wonder, “When is a bone-anchored implant the right choice for my child, instead of traditional hearing aids or a cochlear implant?”

If your child has a hearing loss, it isn’t always easy to figure out which solution would be most beneficial for him or her. Is it a behind-the-ear hearing aid? A Baha solution? A cochlear implant? Well, first you need to know what type of hearing loss your child has.

ASHA Leader’s editor-in-chief, Bridget Murray Law, talked to pediatric audiologist Jillian Kimberlain to get clear answers to all those questions. Read the article here.

Do you have a question that wasn’t answered? Please use our own Ask the experts-function!

Baha-Attract-magnetic-hearing-aidChild with the magnetic Baha Attract System

Baha sound processor on a Softband

cochlear-implant-children-bahaChild with a cochlear implant

hearing-aid-children-bahaChild with a behind-the-ear-hearing-aid

Using the Baha solution together with a behind-the-ear hearing aid

Question: I am very excited to be getting my Baha sound processor, just waiting the 8 weeks for healing.

Currently I am wearing a BTE aid in my left ear and I am deaf in the right ear. My Baha will be on the right side. My question is, will I be able to hear on the phones at work with the Baha? Or will I still need to wear my BTE aid? (I do not hear without it).

I have been told there may be a device I can connect to my work phone that will support bluetooth, if so will it work with the Baha?????
Do you have any suggestions?

Excited to hear what I have been missing! /Teresa

Answer: Dear Teresa,

Thank you for your e-mail! The choice on how to configure the hearing aid with your Baha sound processor is something that your hearing care professional can work through.

From our experience, many people have shown that they can benefit from both the Baha and the hearing aid. This will provide you with crucial information from both sides of the head, improved performance in noise and in working out what direction sounds are coming from. If you can, it is best to stick with two hearing devices.

Just like many modern hearing aids, the latest Baha sound processors enable connection to Bluetooth devices. This will enable you to connect directly to devices such as telephones, televisions and tablets.

We have summarised how you can connect you Baha sound processor to other wireless devices here.

Regards,

~ Mark C. Flynn, PhD Audiologist, Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions

“One year on from the greatest gift for our girl” – how one community raised enough money for a little girl to get ear reconstruction

Alana-Baha-user

In August 2012, two Australian parents decided to start raising money to give their then three-year-old hearing impaired girl an operation that could only be done 11,000 kms away in the US – and had the potential to change her life forever.

Last year on August 13, little Alana finally received her life-changing surgery, correcting her malformed external ears and giving her the gift of hearing with a bone conduction device.

It was all done thanks to the generous community of Bundaberg in Queensland, Australia who raised $108,000 for the family to help their daughter get the surgery she needed.

Four weeks after the surgery, Alana’s fifth birthday came around while she was recovering in her hotel room.

“Taking her for a hearing test that afternoon, we just hoped they’d showed improvement”, says Mom Emma Reid. “But we were in for a huge shock. ‘Alana’s hearing loss is now only moderate to mild,’ the doctor said. ‘And it’s likely to improve further in the next few months.’ It was the best birthday gift we could have ever given her.”

Today Alana is six and goes to school like any child with normal hearing. And she loves her new ears!

“I know she will grow up very grateful knowing the gift she was given by a community that will forever be in our hearts”, says Emma.”

Read more about Alana’s amazing journey.

Alanas brother BaileyAlana

For someone with Alana’s medical condition, atresia/microtia, bone conduction devices are the only option for better hearing. Due to their deformed ears and ear canals, they cannot benefit from in-the-ear hearing aids. Now the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in the United States have proposed a new rule to eliminate Medicare coverage of bone anchored hearing solutions. This means that for people like Alana, the gift of hearing will no longer be available to them.

Help us stop this from happening by visiting www.HelpNowHearAlways.com and signing the petition!

Join the Fight to Preserve Patient Access to Bone Anchored Hearing Solutions – ACT NOW!

Baha-CMS-Medicare

Do you, or someone you know, struggle with hearing loss? If so, it is important for you to know that the United States Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed a new rule to eliminate Medicare coverage of bone anchored hearing solutions (or osseointegrated hearing implants) in 2015.

The new rule centers on the potential reclassification of bone anchored hearing solutions as hearing aids, not prosthetics (as they currently stand). We need to let CMS know that they had it right in the first place. Bone anchored hearing aids work differently than hearing aids – they are surgically implanted devices that replace the function of the cochlea or middle ear. They are also often the last resort for many patients who have tried and did not receive benefit from hearing aids.

For others, like 10 month old Ashlyn Dowell, they are the only option for better hearing due to conditions such as microtia and atresia (deformity or absence of the outer ear). Watch Ashlyn’s story.

If the rule is approved, thousands of people in the United States could be left with no other option for better hearing. They need your help now. It is critical for the global hearing loss community to join forces in opposing this rule before the other insurance carriers follow suit. We need to make sure that everyone is given the opportunity for better hearing.

Join the fight to keep coverage by visiting www.HelpNowHearAlways.com and signing the petition. You don’t have to be American to sign – the more support from around the world, the better!

The deadline to show your support is August 29, 2014, so don’t wait. We need your help now!