Why You Should Consider Implantation if You Use a Softband – Part 1

We are pleased to be able to offer options for people with hearing loss to benefit from our Ponto™ processors at all ages and with differing health conditions. Our processor can be worn on a hard headband, attached to a hat, or on a softband – the latter of which is particular popular with our juvenile wearers. However, the Ponto was developed as part of a complete bone anchored hearing system, meaning wearers will experience peak performance when it is attached via an abutment directly to their skull. And while children under five aren’t candidates for the implant surgery due to their developing skulls, we encourage all adults and parents of kids over five whose physical conditions don’t preclude the surgery to seriously consider implantation. Here’s why.

The MIPS procedure

The surgical method Oticon Medical uses is called MIPS (minimally invasive Ponto surgery). This procedure involves having a small titanium implant carefully inserted into the bone behind your ear. The operation can be performed under local anesthetic, and in most cases, it takes no more than a day or two to recover. Many older children and most adults can undergo MIPS successfully, unless they have a condition that affects skin or bone thickness. A consultation with a surgeon can help you determine whether you or your child is a qualified candidate.

It’s typical for people to have concerns about surgery of any kind, including the comparatively minor MIPS procedure. For example, you might have concerns about your post-surgical appearance. The good news is that MIPS was designed to create the smallest incision possible. The surgeon makes a circular incision that matches the abutment exactly using instruments specifically designed for the procedure. This leaves the skin around the incision intact, with no skin tissue or hair follicles removed from around the abutment – hence no bald spots. MIPS also removes the need for suturing, which eliminates scarring and fosters quicker healing.

Another concern might be the surgery itself – especially the use of general anesthesia, which always carries some level of risk. MIPS only takes about 15 minutes and is normally carried out under local anesthetic. And as for recovery, since the process preserves soft tissue the blood supply, micro-circulation, and nerves are left as intact as possible, thereby shortening the healing period. Most patients can return to work or school within a couple of days.

Why choose bone anchored surgery over softband?

Affixing the Ponto processor to a softband provides young children with early access to speech and sounds so they can explore and interact with the hearing world with greater ease. It also gives them a great foundation for speech development. It is a suitable solution for children with conductive or mixed hearing loss, or single-sided deafness. It can also be used by adults with these conditions who cannot benefit from conventional hearing aids or who have temporary ear problems, such as blockages or infections.

Because the adjustable softband is simply worn around the head, some wearers prefer it to having to go through any form of surgery. And it certainly works — when you attach the Ponto sound processor, it sends sound waves through the bone to the inner ear, giving the wearer access to our renowned, high quality Ponto sound. Wearing a Ponto on a softband is a valuable method of hearing rehabilitation for children too young for implantation and for adults receiving a preoperative assessment.

However, studies confirm that implantation of a bone anchored hearing device – also known as a percutaneous solution – provides the ultimate hearing improvement over wearing a processor on a softband. Hearing sensitivity through the skin with a softband, as compared to a skin-penetrating abutment, provides between eight and 20 decibels (dB) reduction in the frequency range from one to four kHz. In plain English, wearers hear better when their processor is worn on an abutment than when it is worn on a softband.

One concern is that when vibrations have to pass through the skin without an abutment, the static pressure between the softband and the skin must be high to provide the best transmission possible. The ideal requirement often causes discomfort and can result in problems in the skin and subcutaneous tissues between the processor and the bone, especially if used long-term. It can also trigger tension headaches.

Other challenges include attenuation and feedback. Attenuation refers to a reduction in sound amplification, which can affect speech understanding. Feedback, or the return of a portion of an outbound signal to the same device creating a distorted effect, occurs when sound radiates from the processor back to the microphone.

Other complaints about softbands include cosmetic appeal, and slippage that causes the processor to move out of its ideal placement. If these and the aforementioned discomforts persist, the user is less likely to wear their processor all day long, reducing the efficacy of the device. After all, you can only fully benefit from the better hearing provided by the processor if it is worn steadily – and this is particularly important for children who are still acquiring language.

In our next post on this subject, we’ll share two user experiences about upgrading from wearing processors on softbands to having MIPS and hearing with an implant.

Jay Wietecha is a Proud Ponto Advocate

Jay hopes his journey to better hearing will inspire others

Jay Wietecha lost the hearing in his right ear at the end of July 2018 due to a 1.8cm acoustic neuroma that was surgically removed. Despite his surgeons’ best efforts to leave the hearing nerve intact, it still went out and he was left with single-sided deafness (SSD). He spoke to a treatment coordinator post-op who also happened to have SSD following removal of an acoustic neuroma, and was a Ponto user. She advised him that it was Jay’s best option and worth looking into. In October of 2018, Jay went through the minimally invasive Ponto surgery (MIPS) and had his first Ponto activated in November. In the following clip, he shares words of encouragement about the MIPS experience.

He was also better able to engage in conversations at busy restaurants and while driving in a car and enjoying background music. Without the Ponto, these situations were more challenging and less pleasurable. 

“I can comfortably say that the Ponto has made coping and living with SSD much easier and I enjoy a higher quality of life when using it,” Jay said.

Jay found he got the best results at home watching TV with background noise elsewhere in the house, and at work where he practices dentistry in noisy operatories with music playing in the background. He found he was better able to engage with patients and staff and didn’t have to work as hard to hear. He also became more aware of what was going on around him. Here’s what Jay wants you to know about the ease of holding conversations with a Ponto bone anchored hearing system.

Jay also played the drums for the first time since losing his hearing because he’d wanted to wait until he had the Ponto processor to see if it would sound the same as it has since he started playing a little over 30 years ago. The result? “It sounded perfect! I actually thought I might have to stop playing altogether when I lost my hearing, so of course I was filled with emotion over how great things sounded and I can continue playing,” said Jay.

Jay was excited to have the opportunity to try out Ponto 4 when he attended Oticon Medical’s annual New Advocates Meeting earlier this year. He was impressed by the smaller size and all its features.

Overall, Jay feels that wearing a Ponto increased the quality of his life and helped him move beyond the tragedy of losing half of his hearing. “There have actually been times when I feel as normal as I did before I lost my hearing,” he said.

Ready to try something new? Learn how to upgrade to a Ponto processor today!

Face Mask Alternatives for People without Ears

For many of us, the most challenging part of the CDC’s latest recommendation that everyone should wear a face mask* when going out during the Covid-19 epidemic is finding (or making) masks. However, for people with microtia or anotia, this is compounded by the difficulty of wearing a traditional mask with small or no external ear(s). Fortunately, there are ways around the challenge presented by traditional masks with loops for around the ears.

Making your own face masks for Covid-19 use

As mentioned above, one of the biggest challenges for everyone is figuring out how to follow the latest guidelines on covering your mouth and nose when having to go out for groceries or other necessities during the coronavirus outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have posted helpful DIY guidelines for making and using cloth face coverings on their website. These can be further adapted to fit people without ears using the suggestions below.

Add strings to face masks

If you are making your own face mask, instead of using traditional ear loops you can attach tie-able strings at the top and on the bottom corners. These can be comfortably tied around the head to fit without requiring ears or getting in the way of your bone anchored hearing device.

Attach buttons to a headband

If you happen to have a traditional medical mask — especially if you’re a healthcare worker — then altering a scarf, bandanna, or other adaptable headband to add buttons on either side of your head is a good workaround. You can then put the loops around the buttons in place of ears.

 

 

 

 

Use a paperclip

This is a clever and simple trick: take a paperclip, slide it around each ear loop on the mask to connect them in back, then put the mask on over your head and adjust comfortably.

 

 

 

 

Do you have any other DIY suggestions for making face masks wearable without ears? Please share in the comments!

We’d like to thank our friend Melissa Tumblin and Ear Community for allowing us to share these helpful tips and photo examples.

*Masks featured in this post are not N95-rated or surgical grade.

Michael Brown’s Advice: Don’t Hesitate – Get that Ponto Now

We’re please to share a brand-new user story from Canadian advocate Michael Brown. He advises others with hearing loss to overcome their hesitation to undergo minimally-invasive Ponto surgery (MIPS) based on his experience living with untreated hearing loss for 35 years.

“The Ponto 4 is a close to natural hearing that I’ve ever come across,”  In this segment, Michael shares his thoughts on the Ponto 4, which he upgraded to earlier this year.

Is MIPS right for you or your loved one? How about the Ponto 4? Start here to learn all about Ponto and the MIPS procedure.

To Our Valued Customers

A message from our Oticon Medical US president

At Oticon Medical we take the well-being of our community and colleagues seriously and are monitoring the developing coronavirus outbreak closely.

Currently, we have implemented procedures for continuing to operate our business so we may service our customers while also supporting the authorities’ work to contain the risk of infection.

Oticon Medical USA’s guidelines for activities in and around our company follow the guidance of our national health organizations, and in some cases, we are even more cautious. We will constantly update our policy to reflect any changes in guidance from authorities.

Our first priority is the health of you, your clients and patients, and our staff. We are doing our best to ensure our service to you is maintained as much as possible given the circumstances. We are taking all possible actions to ensure reliable production, insurance services, device repairs, and deliveries continue. And our local Oticon Medical personnel is instructed to familiarize themselves with and always follow the health guidelines of local hospitals and clinics.

We greatly appreciate your understanding and thank you for your loyalty to Oticon Medical. We also appreciate that this outbreak affects not only your cooperation with Oticon Medical but your daily life and that of your family, patients, and staff.  Please stay safe and know that our thoughts are with you during this difficult time.

Sincerely,

John Sparacio
President, Oticon Medical US

No Regrets: Kevin Chooses Ponto 4

Kevin Hotaling and his father Timothy spoke to us during an event earlier this year about Kevin’s experience using Ponto 4. In the first segment of this video, Kevin shares which Ponto 4 feature has been “a dream” of his for a long time.

Both Kevin and his father were impressed by Kevin’s ability to hear more clearly despite background noise with Ponto 4. “You could see, it was just making such a difference,” Timothy notes.

Superior quality, confidence boosting. That’s Ponto 4!

Are YOU ready to upgrade your hearing device? Click to learn how!

Lori Novara Sings the Praises of Ponto 4

Lori Novara missed out on a lot in school because her bilateral hearing loss wasn’t identified until she was a pre-teen. It turned out traditional hearing aids couldn’t help, because wearing them caused her to develop ear infections.

Lori discovered the Oticon Medical bone anchored hearing system and got her first Ponto devices in 2003. She has been so happy with her Pontos ever since that she became one of top our patient Ambassadors.

Today, Lori regularly talks to people about the hearing challenges she faced and how getting a BAHS changed her life for the better. In this video, she shares her thoughts on upgrading to Ponto 4 and her experiences with her new devices. 

Lori was impressed by everything her new Ponto 4s were able to do, especially when it comes to holding conversations in noisy environments. 

Lori enjoys the boost to her confidence provided by her Ponto 4s. She told us she feels safer now that she can not only hear sound all around her, but is better able to identify the correct direction from which the sound is coming. This helps her feel better about going out into different environments alone.

One anecdote Lori shared that didn’t make it into this video drives home how powerful Ponto 4 really is.

One morning, while staying at a hotel, Lori heard a “dinging” noise in her room. She searched everything trying to figure out what it was but couldn’t find the source. She opened her hotel door and realized she could hear the “ding” outside even louder than in her room.

She walked down the hallway until she was in front of another room’s closed door. It was then she realized, “Oh my gosh, that’s an alarm clock!” She was amazed that Ponto 4 allowed her to hear an alarm clock going off in a room three doors down the hall through closed doors.

That’s the power of Ponto 4!

Ready to upgrade to Ponto 4? Click the button and we’ll tell you how!

Lucy Brown Loves Ponto 4!

Part 3: Heading in the right direction

In Part 2 of this story, Lucy and her mom Georgene shared how Ponto 4 has helped Lucy leave the shadows and feel like a full participant in whatever environment she finds herself in. This week, in the third and final segment of their Ponto 4 testimonial, Lucy and Georgene explain the importance of knowing from which direction a sound is coming and how Ponto 4 has made that easier than ever before.

How is Georgene dealing with giving Lucy more independence now that she’s growing up? Having Ponto 4 certainly is helping ease her concerns with regards to Lucy’s safety.

Thank you, Lucy and Georgene, for sharing your experience with the Ponto 4! We’re so fortunate to have you as valued members of our Oticon Medical bone anchored hearing system family.

Viewers: do you have a Ponto 4 story you’d like to share with others who might be considering an upgrade? Please feel free to contact us at hisi@oticonmedical.com and let us know!

Ready to upgrade your processor? Click to learn how!

Have You Heard of Oticon Medical Friends?

Spread the word!

Right after Thanksgiving last year, Oticon Medical formally launched a new community for Ponto wearers and caregivers to Ponto wearers in the United States, Oticon Medical Friends. Our goal was to create a safe, private space for wearers and caregivers to share their experiences with their Ponto bone anchored hearing systems, ask each other for advice and tips, and learn from one another’s experiences with hearing loss and treatment. Additionally, the community provides more direct access to Oticon Medical employees for assistance with questions related to technology, insurance, and best practices as well as the opportunity to share ideas for product and service advancements.

Features designed to empower Ponto users and caregivers

Oticon Medical Friends provides helpful features for new and experienced Ponto wearers and caregivers, including:

  • Easily viewable information on your Ponto device(s), including warranty information. This information is stored securely in your Profile, so only you can see it.
  • Groups dedicated to different subjects relevant to you. You can easily browse and find the groups that reflect your everyday interests and experiences.
  • A resource library with downloadable material to make life even easier with your device. All materials are made exclusively for Oticon Medical Friends members.
  • Direct messaging. Talk directly and privately with other Oticon Medical Friends community members as well as Oticon Medical employees.
  • A first look at new products and accessories. Find out first what we are working on and offer suggestions for what you’d like us to develop.
  • Coming soon: Exclusive offers and contests for members.

Groups and more in Oticon Medical Friends

Within the community are different groups designed for new wearers, experienced Ponto users, and caregivers. We encourage you to join as many as you’d like! The following are your current options:

  • Daily Life
  • New Ponto Users
  • Active Living
  • Experienced Ponto Users
  • Tips and Tricks
  • Kids with Ponto
  • Music
  • Coming soon: Advocacy
  • US Insurance

We also have a growing Library of content to help maximize your experience and enjoyment of life with a Ponto BAHS and an area where we encourage you to make Suggestions, which we will  use to continue expanding and developing Oticon Medical Friends. We are just getting started, so the sooner you join, the more influence you can have on making this community the best resource it can be!

How do I join Oticon Medical Friends?

If you are currently using a Ponto or you are a parent or caregiver of a Ponto wearer, Oticon Medical Friends is for you! To join, simply click this link to Oticon Medical Friends, and when directed enter the serial number for your or your loved one’s device. Whether you are a new member of the Oticon Medical extended family or a seasoned advocate, Oticon Medical Friends is the place for you.

 

Lucy Brown Loves Ponto 4!

Part 2: Joining the crowd

 

Last week, we premiered Part 2 of a new Ponto 4 video story from Lucy Brown. In Part 2, Lucy and her mother, Georgene, share even more reasons why they’re glad Lucy upgraded her bone anchored hearing system! 

Lucy first tried out Ponto 4 during a visit to Nashville, where she had the opportunity to wear it in some pretty loud and crowded environments. In this video, Georgene shares: “Yesterday, we sure put Ponto 4 to the test.”

Did it pass? Watch and find out!

Tune in next week for the third and final installment of Lucy’s Ponto 4 user story.

Ready to upgrade your processor? Click to learn how!