“No other hearing aid or osseo-integrated device company can match the processing available in the Ponto 4.”
Tory Burns, a Clinical Representative with Oticon Medical, had an acoustic neuroma removed when he was 15, leaving him with single-sided deafness (SSD). He describes what led him to finally treat his hearing loss with the Ponto bone anchored hearing system (BAHS) and his thoughts on the Ponto 4 after upgrading from the Ponto 3 SP.
Search for the right SSD treatment leads to a career with Oticon Medical
I completely lost the hearing in my left ear by the time I was 18. My good ear is normal. I cannot tell which direction sounds are coming from and I have significant difficulty hearing in background noise. I have had to pre-plan before going out and assertively choose the seating that most appropriately fit my hearing loss (since my SSD is on the left, I would try to avoid having people sit or walk on my left side). I tried several CROS-type solutions, and all were too noisy for me to wear for any length of time.
I worked for Oticon, Inc. for four years, choosing this particular company because of its unique innovations and forward-looking technology. I then moved over to Oticon Medical because it was an opportunity to work with people struggling with the same hearing loss that I had. I did not get a Ponto until six months later. I did not specifically intend to do this but since I saw how easy the surgery was, it quickly became a no-brainer — I had to try it. I was a new dad at the time and wanted to make sure I was giving myself every opportunity to be a part of my daughter’s life.
I definitely feel I have an insider’s perspective. I can relate to and empathize with difficulties that a person with SSD has that may not be obvious, even to them. I can also offer some assurance that having a Ponto generally won’t interfere with any of their activities no matter how physically demanding.
Ponto 4 and the joys of wireless streaming
I wore my previous Ponto devices situationally. When I was in noise, I would have to turn it up all the way. Sometimes, I only heard a jumble of sounds, and while still helpful, I wanted more.
Now I wake up every day and put my Ponto 4 on (never did that before, ever). It is like I am not even wearing anything! The sound quality is three-dimensional and speech “pops” out of the noise. I can hear speech in all directions on my left side. It is remarkable — after the start-up tone, you can hear the sounds all jumbled and amplified, but within a second or two, everything gets organized and cleaned up.
Also, I have never successfully streamed with any previous generation of Ponto. I could only hear audio if I plugged up my good ear, which in my opinion, defeats the purpose. With the Ponto 4, I’ve streamed sportscasts and phone calls while out in the yard working, walking down a busy road, and even in my car.
The sound streaming from my phone is excellent — clearer than from any other sound processor I have worn. I streamed for two hours one day while working outside with power tools and didn’t miss a word from the golf broadcast I was listening to.
Older technology made sounds seem two-dimensional — like a wall of sound coming at me all at once. The soundscape around me is three-dimensional with Ponto 4. Voices in many listening situations seem to have their own place in space.
Clear speech with Ponto 4 even in noise
Voices are clear, even in noise. I have plenty of headroom if I want it louder, and I would highly recommend Ponto 4 to SSD patients who are considering which Ponto to get. The device does not need as much volume to compensate for hearing because the speech information is what the device is emphasizing.
Ponto 4 is also smaller, which is a big part of my willingness to wear it more often. It supports my lifestyle, which includes running. I run a lot and wear my Ponto 4 for awareness on the street and trails. Because the Ponto 4 is very water-resistant, I don’t hesitate to wear it while I am active and on land. I’m also a dad with two kids so all of my other “recreation” opportunities are not mine. Nevertheless, I benefit from wearing my Ponto everywhere.
When I was not wearing a Ponto, I would have to really think and analyze my situation before, during, and after to ensure the best outcomes. It felt like a lot of work day in and day out. When I wear my Ponto 4, I don’t have to lean in to the conversation with my good ear or choose which seat to sit in so that everyone is on my “good side”. It used to be that if two people were talking to me with one on my left side and one on the right, I would have to turn slightly to my good (right) side to hear both equally. I never have to do that with my Ponto 4. In all, I have much more natural interactions with people on a daily basis. I feel better when I wear my device than when I don’t because it is less stressful when it is on.
It took getting the Ponto to really find out how much I had been compensating for my hearing loss. I realized how much work I was putting in daily and how much I was avoiding because of my hearing difficulties. I also realized how much I was missing that I wasn’t aware of during the 20+ years I did nothing. The new OPN™ technology is a game-changer. No other hearing aid or osseo-integrated device company can match the processing available in the Ponto 4.
My advice to anyone considering the Ponto 4? Try it out for yourself — what do you have to lose?