What you need to know about bone anchored hearing


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Hundreds of thousands of adults and children around the world have discovered the benefits of a bone anchored hearing system, also called a bone conduction hearing system. This type of hearing solution bypasses any problems in the outer or middle ear by sending vibrations via the skull bone directly to the inner ear where they can be processed by the brain as sound. So how does bone anchored hearing work? And could it be the right solution for you or a loved one? We’ve put together answers to your most common questions here.

 

All bone anchored hearing systems consist of a small implant that is surgically placed in the skull bone just behind your ear and a sound processor that attaches to a skin-penetrating abutment (connector) on the implant. The sound processor captures sound in much the same way as a conventional hearing aid. However, instead of sound transmission through the ear canal via air conduction, it transforms the sound into vibrations that are transmitted through your bone via the implant and directly into the cochlea in the inner ear. In this way, bone anchored hearing uses the body’s natural ability to conduct sound.

 

Type of hearing loss

If you are interested in finding out more about this type of hearing solution, always start by talking to an audiologist or an ear, nose and throat doctor. They will be able to test your hearing and assess if you would be a good candidate.

 

Locate your nearest clinic

 

A bone conduction hearing system can be a good solution if your hearing loss is due to problems in your outer or middle ear. This is because it bypasses these parts of the ear and transmits sound directly into your inner ear. This can be highly beneficial if you suffer from conductive or mixed hearing loss. A bone anchored solution can also be beneficial for those with a profound hearing loss in one ear also known as single-sided deafness.


Hear other users’ stories

 

Many people with hearing loss switch to a bone conduction hearing solution, like the  Ponto System, if they find that conventional hearing aids don’t give the results that they had hoped for.

 

Bone conduction hearing systems can be a great support to people with hearing loss caused by problems in their outer or middle ear (conductive or mixed hearing loss), as well as people suffering from single sided deafness (SSD). Read more about how hearing works and the different types of hearing loss

 

In many cases, the answer to this is yes. Unlike conventional hearing aids, a bone conduction system leaves the ear canal open and turns sound into vibrations that are sent into the inner ear through the skull bone rather than through the ear canal. This helps to keep the ear canal dry and healthy, which reduces the risk of infection. 

 

Surgery

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Yes, you can try a bone conduction sound processor like the Ponto on a softband or headband. You wear the sound processor on a band around your head so that vibrations can be transferred through the skin to the skull bone. This lets you try out this type of hearing solution without an implant.

 

Contact clinic to try a Softband

 

If you decide to have the implant surgically fitted, in most cases you can expect better results. This is because when you wear a sound processor on a band, the sound must travel through the skin first, which can dampen it. If you have the surgery, there is a direct connection to the bone and the inner ear via the implant. This means there is less dampening of the sound, which results in better sound quality. See how this works

 

Some people undergoing surgery to have a bone anchored implant are concerned about the surgery and how they will look and feel afterwards. It can be a relief to know that the surgery to place the implant in the bone behind your ear is minor. It is most often performed under local anaesthetic in an outpatient procedure that takes between 30 minutes and one hour depending on the procedure undertaken. This means you can return home the same day, in most cases. 

200x200-how-will-i-look-after-i-ve-had-the-surgeryIn addition to being highly efficient, the procedure to place the Ponto implant also results in less scarring thanks to the specially developed Minimally Invasive MIPS technique. MIPS has been designed to create the smallest incision possible to fit perfectly with the Ponto abutment. This leaves the skin around the abutment intact. For you as a patient, this means no sutures, less scarring and faster healing.

 

 

 

After surgery


The sound processor is generally only worn during the day – in the same way as a conventional hearing aid. The sound processor is easily attached to the abutment. 

 

Following surgery, you will feel the incision but once this is healed, most users don’t feel the implant or sound processor when it is attached. 

 

Once you’ve had the implant, you will need to wait until the implant has fully integrated with the bone before you can attach the sound processor and start hearing. Once healed, you can expect to visit your audiologist to have the sound processor fitted and to adjust the settings to match your exact hearing needs. You can wear your sound processor on a specially designed headband up until the implant site is healed and ready for the processor to be attached.

 

This depends on the sound processor you choose and how you wear your hair. Today’s sound processors are highly discreet and depending on your hair style, easy to cover. The Ponto sound processor is available in a variety of colours and shades so that it blends in with your hair for a discreet look. Or if you want to stand out and make a statement, you can choose one of the more vibrant colours.
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Ponto 4 introduction

Cost


This depends on where you live and how access to hearing solutions is provided. In many countries with free healthcare or healthcare insurance, bone anchored hearing devices are covered. Your audiologist or hearing clinic will be able to provide you with the information you need about cost and any reimbursement.

Children

200x200-can-children-use-a-bone-anchored-hearing-deviceYes, children have had great success with this type of hearing solution. Even younger children can try it out using a sound processor attached to a softband or headband. Children who are either too young to have an implant or have a temporary hearing problem can wear the sound processor with a softband. This is a flexible and adjustable band that fits all head sizes. 

The sound processor is placed in contact with the skin directly on top of the bone behind the ear. This provides a good way to evaluate how much the sound processor is helping your child before deciding to have an implant placed.

 

Children learn how to communicate very early on in their development. As such, it is important they have good access to sound as soon as possible. 

For those children who are not yet ready for surgery, the Ponto can attach via the softband and be worn by children of any age, to provide them with the amplification they need to maximise their language development.
 

 

Hearing is an essential part of language learning, making friends and feeling secure. For this reason, a bone anchored hearing system, like the Ponto, can make a huge difference to a child’s life – socially and academically. 
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The Ponto System has a range of accessories to help children in their everyday life. There are accessories that link the sound processor to classroom learning systems, such as a microphone worn by the teacher. There are also stickers and covers so the child can personalize the sound processor.

 

 

Firstly, you should talk to your audiologist. It can also help to go online and visit user groups to gain insights into the different solutions that are available on the market. There are a number of  Facebook groups where users share information. These can give you valuable insights into life with a bone anchored hearing device and the different types of devices available.

Read user stories 

 

 

Yes, you can use a Ponto sound processor on one side and a conventional hearing aid on the other. Users may benefit from a smoother experience if both devices share the same technological platform.  

 

Connectivity

Yes, Ponto sound processors can wirelessly connect to the most common electronic devices, including landline phones, the TV, computer and smartphones. This means you can enjoy the sound from these devices streamed to your Ponto.

 

Yes, bone conduction headphones use the same basic hearing principles of transmitting sound via the bone to the inner ear. See how it works

 

 

1 Bone anchored implants are contraindicated for children below the age of 5 in the USA, Canada and Singapore
2 Hol MK, Cremers CW, Coppens-Schellekens W, Snik AF. The Baha Softband. A new treatment for young children with bilateral congenital aural atresia. Int J Pediatr O torhinolaryngol. 2005;69:973-80. 

Not all hearing loss patients are candidates for a bone anchored solution. All surgical procedures include an element of risk, and it is impossible to guarantee success. Outcomes may vary. Testimonials represent the opinion of the concerned individuals only and may not be the experience of others. Not all products are available in all markets. Product availability and indications are subject to regulatory approval in respective markets.