Following Shay’s hearing journey: from Softband to implant at age 11

Michelle and her daughter Shalynn, 11

Michelle and her daughter Shay, who wears a Softband.

By Michelle Robinson

When my daughter Shay was around one year old, I noticed that she was not reacting to loud noises like other children, so I decided to take her to have her hearing checked. Her family and I found out that she had moderate hearing loss in her right ear and that she had had it since birth. Although doctors did a hearing test when Shay was a newborn, we were not informed at the time that she failed it.

A short time after learning of Shay’s hearing loss, we made an appointment with our local ear, nose and throat specialist. The specialist confirmed that she had moderate hearing loss and nerve damage to her right ear. She needed a hearing aid. Shay received her first among many hearing aids at the age of two. In the years that followed, she has had several hearing exams, but due to her young age we were uncertain about what she was truly hearing.

When Shay was nine and a half I took her in for a routine hearing check, where we found out that her hearing loss was much more severe than we had thought. We learned she couldn’t hear voices and typical speech patterns. It turns out a normal hearing aid was not working for her at all.

My heart sank with this news. Shay not being able to hear out of her right ear was a huge concern: she was struggling in school because she couldn’t hear the teacher; it was difficult for her to ride her bike or play outside because she couldn’t hear when a car was coming up behind her.

The doctor explained to us the process of bone conduction, and he said he believed Shay would be a perfect candidate for the Baha System. We made an appointment right away with the Michigan Ear Institute. Doctors there confirmed that she has severe mixed hearing loss (a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss) in her right ear, and that a normal hearing aid would not work for her. We discussed the Baha System and decided that it would be our best option.

After doing some investigating I learned about the Baha Softband, normally used for very young children. Shay has had the Softband for a little over a year now. It was like night and day: finally, she could hear! I’ve included a video of her hearing with the Softband for the first time with this blog. After a little more than a year and after seeing the difference it has made in her life, we knew it was time to replace the Softband. This December at the age of 11, Shay will have implant surgery to start her new life with the Baha Connect System. She is so excited to keep hearing better!

Michelle Robinson lives in Cheboygan, Michigan, U.S., and is the mother of 11-year-old Baha recipient Shalynn Robinson.

Treating hearing loss after acoustic neuroma removal

QuestionI had an acoustic neuroma removed in 2002. The tumor was also involved with my facial nerve. While removing the tumor mass they had to take out the hammer, anvil and stirrup.

Will a Baha work in my situation? // Kevin

Answer: Hi Kevin, thanks for your question.

Removing an acoustic neuroma can lead to single-sided deafness (SSD). The Baha System uses the body’s natural ability to transfer sound.  Instead of trying to push sound through the damaged area in the outer or middle ear, it reroutes the sound directly through bone, from the damaged ear to the working inner ear on the other side. This makes it easier to understand speech in noisy situations and reduces the attenuation of sounds from the deaf side So the bone conduction implant actually sends the sound through your skull bone instead of via air.

For instance, if you scratch your head you can hear it, right? The same with bone conduction. You just hear the sound in a different way.

We have several stories from people with SSD who benefit greatly from the Baha System, such as Tim and Victor, using the Baha Attract and Connect systems respectively. Discuss with your health care professional what option would be best for you.

Another good thing is that you can always try the system before you decide to get it. Your hearing care professional can fit a Baha Sound Processor to a Softband or a testband on your head. This gives a good idea of the benefit.

Good luck!

//The Baha Blog team

Read also: When is Baha System right for me?

‘It’s like putting on your glasses’ – Dan on his Baha 5 Power Sound Processor

wearing-Baha-5-Power

Single-sided deafness (SSD) is a unique challenge. It can be very frustrating to only be able to hear on one side, especially in noisy or crowded situations when you have little control over your environment.

At 13, Baha user Dan lost all the hearing in his right ear. The cause is still unclear, but doctors suspected a virus damaged his cochlea or auditory nerve. They told him there was nothing to be done and sent him home. Dan wore a hearing aid system for about 20 years, with mixed results.

In 2005, Dan’s wife Susan ran across an article about a new hearing solution called a Baha System. Dan went to his health care professional for a trial and spent a week comparing his hearing aids to a Baha sound processor on a headband. He said that trial gave him all the information he needed.

“For me, the Baha [sound processor] with the headband was superior in clarity, volume, and understandability.”

Baha-Power-colours

Now, after over a decade of advancements, he has upgraded to the smaller and more powerful Baha 5 Power Sound Processor and says the sound is better than ever.

“It’s so second nature, it’s like putting on your glasses,” says Dan. “You put it on and it works, you take it off and it stops. It does what I need it to do, and I don’t have to think about it throughout the day.”

baha-5-power-processor-color

Dan at his daughter’s wedding (wearing his previous Baha 3 Power Sound Processor)

He said the moment that really drove home the importance of his processor was when both of his daughters got married, two years apart. Both times, he was able to do the father/daughter dance and be completely in the moment. Even when his daughters rested their heads on his right shoulder, he was able to hear every word they said.

“That, to me, is totally, completely priceless,” he said. “I can never replicate it or duplicate it. It was a one-time shot, and the processor let me hear what’s most important.”

Read Dan’s entire story here

Trying the Baha solution before surgery

QuestionI had a sudden lost of hearing in my left ear and am planning on having Baha surgery the end of this month (May 2016). I was wondering if the Baha System has a program where potential candidates could use the headband version (like those used for babies and young children) for a short trial period in different environments.

While I tried it in the office on a headset, and was amazed at the difference, if would be very helpful to use in the everyday environment (such as at work, concerts, group settings). If yes, how do I have my ENT request it or if not, it would be, I think, a very good option for future candidates. Thank you // Linda

Answer: Hi Linda!

You are indeed right in that one of the many benefits with the Baha System is that you can try it before surgery. By using a Baha sound processor on a Softband you will get a good idea of what your hearing will be like – and the best thing is of course if you are able to take it home and try it out in different surroundings for a couple of weeks. Clinics may have different practices and procedures regarding pre-surgical trials. We recommend that you contact your hearing care professional to discuss the possibility of getting a Baha trial on a Softband.

Best of luck!

//The Baha Blog team

Baha-5-Softband

  1. Elasticated headband (free from natural rubber latex)
  2. Universal slider
  3. Built-in safety release
  4. Snap connector
  5. Baha SoftWear Pad
  6. Colour and pattern options

 

What are the benefits of the Baha System?

Question: Thank you very much for responding to me once already, it’s very much appreciated. However; I’d like to find out more about the Baha DermaLock Abutment – would this be appropriate for my situation?

I have so called SUDDEN SENSORINEURAL HEARING LOSS in my left ear and I did all possible treatments from the day that happened, in ear steroids and oral, along with hyperberic oxygen therapy. I am now on day 46 and no hearing has come back. I am at about 90dB profound hearing loss. My major problem is being in places with noises or anywhere that there are people talking at the same time! It sounds muffled and makes it very hard to hear from the good ear also, and that is what makes me uncomfortable more than just hearing from one ear. My ENT suggests the Cros hearing aids but I am not sure…

So my questions are :
A. Can the DermaLock Abutment be good for me?
B. Will the Baha System fix some of this annoying situation in group talking, restaurants etc?
C. Will this Baha System show on the outside on my skin? I would like you to send some pics for me to see .
D. Will it help my tinnitus a bit also?

Finally, can you recommend a specialist in central NJ area that do this surgery?
I appreciate all you can tell me , after all it’s all new to me and I do love life and would very much like to do everything i was doing. I have been isolate from lots of my friends because of the muffleness caused by restaurant noise and people talking or my wife vacuuming the house!
Please help . // Pietro

Answer: Dear Pietro, thanks for reaching out to us.

First, to clarify, we are not able to give medical advice to individuals. Only a hearing care professional can recommend what hearing solution is best for you. I can however try to answer your questions the best I can.

A. A DermaLock Abutment is one way to connect the sound processor to the implant. This type of direct system is called the Baha Connect System. We also have the Baha Attract System. This system uses two magnets, one under the skin and one above, to connect the sound processor to the implant. Your hearing care professional will help you decided which system is best for you. The great thing about a Baha System is that you can try it out before moving forward with surgery by  listening through the sound processor on a Baha Softband. This will give you a good understanding of the benefit you can expect.

B. With a Baha System you can generally relieve the problem from having the muffled experience you describe when someone is talking on your hearing impaired side. The problem you are experiencing is what’s called the “head shadow effect”. This means that high frequency soundwaves coming from your impaired side are “shadowed” by your head and don’t reach your hearing ear. The lower frequency sound waves are better able to reach your hearing ear and this is what causes the muffled sound. With a Baha System on your impaired side the sound is captured and sent as vibrations through the bone directly to your hearing ear, alleviating the problem and making it easier to hear more clearly from both sides.

C. This depends on what system you use. Because the Baha Attract System uses magnets, there is nothing visible when you are not wearing your sound processor. You can find several pictures of Baha Attract users on this blog, such as this one. If you use the Baha Connect System then yes, the small abutment is visible when you are not wearing your sound processor. Recent technology developments have dramatically improved the aesthetics of an abutment system. You can also find pictures of Baha Connect users on this blog, such as this one of Nancy:

baha5-colors-copper

D. Regarding tinnitus relief, this is a question that your hearing care professional will be better suited to answer. I would definitely encourage you to get in contact with a professional to evaluate your situation and reach out to people who have been in your situation.

Cochlear runs events where you can meet with Baha System users and get more information. Here is a link to the event calendar in the US.  If you’d like, we can have your local engagement manager contact you directly. Send us your email details and we’ll have her reach out to you.

Use this tool to find a Baha clinic in your area!

 

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

How well does the Baha solution represent music in stereo?

baha-sound-music

QuestionHi there! I have a question with regards to the Baha System and music.

About 8 months ago I lost hearing in my left ear as a result of an infection and head injury. I’m booked in for diagnostic tests to consider my eligibility for implants, but my doctor has said that a Baha solution might be good for me. I never considered an implant until recently, but now I’m starting to come around to the idea.

My major qualm with an implant would be my enjoyment of music. Before my accident I was a huge music fan. I produced music as a hobby, played instruments, and loved listening to new artists and going to festivals. However since I got my SSD I’ve found it difficult to produce the same enthusiasm I once did, music seems blander than it once did, although I still enjoy it. Admittedly a lot of this disappointment is likely a result of the long-term tinnitus I’ve been experiencing, loud noises tend to make the tinnitus louder.

My question is: do you have any information about how well the Baha solution represents music in stereo? I imagine it will never be the same as two ears, but can it help recover some of the fine details I’ve been missing? Can it easily distinguish between pitches? And is there a risk of the tinnitus coming back after the implant?

Huge thanks for taking the time to read, I look forward to your reply. // Elliot

Answer: Hi there!

You are right in that your hearing might not be exactly the same as it used to – but with today’s technologies, you can expect the Cochlear Baha solution to offer better sound quality than ever before. One of the many benefits with the Baha System is that you can try it before surgery. By using a Baha sound processor on a Softband you’ll get a good idea of what your hearing will be like.

Also you should be aware that the dynamic range of music and speech is different. As music listening seems to be one of your key requests I would recommend that you ask your hearing care specialist to create a music program for the sound processor as you evaluate the benefit of the Baha System. This will make sure that music is represented in a good way by the system.

You can also listen via the wireless Mini Mic where you can adjust the level, so that the peaks of music do not overdrive the microphones.

Stereo representation will not be restored as it was before your accident as you now only hear with one ear (the Baha System will send the sound from your deaf side to the hearing ear via bone conduction). However, you should be able to pick up more details as some of the bland sounds you’re experiencing is due to the higher frequency sounds from your deaf side being shadowed by your head.

Regarding tinnitus there are no reports of increasing tinnitus problems for Baha users, on the contrary, there are actually reports on tinnitus relief after getting a Baha System. However, many factors influence this and the best person to answer any questions about this will be your hearing care specialist.

Best of luck!

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

Music lover with SSD considering the Baha System

QuestionI am SSD (conductive issue); I am a music fanatic and depressed because I could never enjoy the “sensation”  of my 5.1 audio system. As expected, I like my music “loud”, not absurdly loud but loud, one of my ears is absolutely perfect. Please, how does the Baha sound processor respond to a loud audio input? Would it distort the sound or transmit it properly? My “regular”  hearing aid simply doesn’t work, it distorts the audio if it is already loud. In terms of music listening, would the abutment system be better than the Baha Attract?

Thanks a lot // Andre

Answer: Hi Andre!

The Baha Connect System will provide the most efficient transmission with a lower risk for distortion. That said, a music listening test with a properly programmed Baha sound processor on a Softband would give you a good understanding of whether the Baha Attract System might meet your individual requirements.

Amplifying music through a sound processor is always complicated. The reason is that the sound processor is so focused on speech that is sometimes “misapprehends” the music. Using a specific music program is often very beneficial. Your audiologist can easily provide you with such a program.

The sound processor also has a protection to very loud sounds. The purpose is simply to prevent it from generating a sound loud enough to damage your hearing. When this feature is used for a longer period of time, for example when listening to very loud music, it could distort the sound a bit. In that case I would recommend lowering the music volume as it is probably TOO loud. This feature is applicable to both the Baha Connect and Baha Attract System.

How you will hear sound through the Baha System depends on your type of hearing loss.

If you have a profound hearing loss on your “bad” ear, both when measured though bone and through air (SSD) the sound from this ear will be sent thought the bone to the good ear. So you will NOT hear the sound from both sides, in stereo. You will hear sound from both sides in ONE ear.

If you have conductive or mixed hearing loss on one ear, you will be able to hear from BOTH ears. That said, please note that only a hearing healthcare specialist can recommend what hearing solution is best for you.

Best of luck!

~ Annelen Hedin, Audiology Group Manager, Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions

Read more about different types of hearing loss