Author Archives: Liz Flores

Isabella’s Ponto Bone Anchored Hearing System helps her on and off the volleyball court

Despite being born with a bilateral conductive hearing loss, Isabella doesn’t let anything, especially her hearing loss, slow her down. She has microtia on her left side and bilateral atresia. When her parents realized she had a hearing loss at birth, they worked quickly to ensure she received early intervention.

“When I was little and I hadn’t had my reconstruction surgery yet for my microtia, I used to tell people that I was in an alligator fight and that an alligator bit my ear off. I was instantly the coolest kid.” – Isabella Rodriguez.

Her mother, Lupita, began advocating and researching this new world of hearing loss which led her to join Georgia PINES (Parent Infant Network for Educational Services). Through her work as an early interventionist for Georgia PINES and Georgia Hands and Voices, she learned first-hand about the latest hearing technology and spoke with local audiologists. This is how she came across Oticon Medical’s Ponto Bone Anchored Hearing System.

Starting high school off right
As Isabella entered high school, her parents knew she needed to upgrade to the newest technology to ensure she was set up for success. After trialing different brands, Isabella chose the Ponto and started her high school days with a Ponto Plus Power on a softband. “The Ponto was a lot clearer, had less feedback and had a sleek design, while the other options sounded robotic,” she explains.

And in a school of more than 3,000 kids, her Ponto made a difference. Whether she was taking part in group projects, communicating with classmates in the cafeteria, or socializing in the courtyard.

“In the classroom, the new lecture style of teaching where the teacher moves about the room would have normally been really difficult for me to hear, but my Oticon Medical Streamer helps. I wear my Streamer and the teachers use an FM system to send sound to my Streamer which sends sound to my Ponto.” – Isabella Rodriguez

Connecting with other Ponto users at local events
As Isabella now plans for college next year, she and her family have started researching abutment surgery. Surgery can come with a lot of questions and we know that conversation and discussion through the lens of experience is the most powerful tool in making the right decision for the best hearing care. After attending a bone anchored hearing meetup in Georgia, hosted by Ross Wiseman earlier this year, Isabella and Lupita were able to meet other Ponto users who wear their Pontos on abutments.

“We were able to connect with Ross and two other women who had the Ponto abutment surgery at the meetup. They explained their experience with the surgery and how their hearing had improved,” Lupita explained.

Wearing a Ponto Bone Anchored Hearing System in high school
Isabella currently plays competitive volleyball with her Ponto, which she says helps her hear coaches and teammates.

“I never play without my Ponto.” – Isabella Rodriguez

As she’s grown older, she has gained more confidence and become used to educating her teachers and fellow students on what it means to have a hearing loss. To other young people with hearing loss who may be struggling with self-confidence, she says, “Don’t be ashamed. Everyone is different and there is nothing wrong with you.”

 

If you’d like to learn more about the latest Ponto device – the Ponto 3 SuperPower, click below to be connected with an audiologist.
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The Ponto 3 SuperPower ignites a love for music for Talia

Three-year-old Talia Jarvis was born with unilateral microtia and atresia, and bilateral moderate-severe hearing loss. When the Jarvis family adopted Talia in March of 2017, they took her to an ENT right away to begin her hearing journey.

“I wasn’t familiar with all the different devices. Our audiologist said they were all pretty much the same. They didn’t provide the Ponto so we took home a different bone anchored hearing device to trial and it didn’t reach our expectations.” – Laurie Jarvis

Talia’s mother, Laurie, began doing her own research because of the severe feedback issues Talia was experiencing. She began speaking to other users online in Facebook groups like this one and this one that helped her find the Ponto 3 SuperPower and halt her current bone anchored hearing system order until Talia trialed the Ponto. “I told my doctor that if they didn’t let us trial the Ponto device we would be switching to someone else, ” she explains.

Since receiving her Ponto 3 SuperPower Talia’s world has expanded and is happy to wear her device all day. She is now learning language and her mother says she can hear the differences in sounds. 

“With the Ponto, she cried the first time I took it off at night. The next morning she pointed to it on the dresser and every day since then it’s the very first thing she asks for in the morning.

Before it was hard to get her to sit still to read a story. Now she will ask for book after book after book. She wants to learn new vocabulary and is constantly asking me what this and that is. That interest was not there before.” – Laurie Jarvis

One of the greatest differences her family has witnessed is seeing her discover a love for music. At home, Talia now enjoys listening to her sister play the piano, a sound that until recently was something she had not heard.

 

“My oldest daughter was playing the piano one morning and Talia was sitting in her highchair eating breakfast and she looked at me and she pointed to my daughter who was playing and she signed ‘piano; It was obvious that she was hearing something different.” – Laurie Jarvis

If you’d like to learn more about the latest Ponto device – Ponto 3 SuperPower, click below to be connected with an audiologist.

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Learn about bone anchored hearing and try the Ponto 3 SuperPower at these Fall meet-ups

We know that honest conversation about others’ experiences can be the most powerful tool in making the right decision for the best hearing care. This summer, we hosted meetups all around the U.S. where local advocates shared their Ponto journeys. Advocates like Dayla Hurley, shared how her son Brody’s life changed since receiving his bilateral  Ponto 3 SuperPower’s .

 

 

Brody’s first time truly hearing music and his reaction:

 

Brody’s first time saying “Mommy”:

 

Our meetups are continuing this Fall and advocates like Dayla will hold empowering discussions and conversation around bone anchored hearing.

We’re sad to see Summer go, but we’re excited to see you this Fall. Check out the list below to see if we’re coming to your city and don’t forget to RSVP!

Richmond, VA
September 14, 2018
Hosted by Bethany Geldmaker
RSVP here

Charlotte, NC
October 6, 2018
Hosted by Kathy Bowie
RSVP here

Raleigh, NC
October 20, 2018
Hosted by Nancy Oberman
RSVP here

Cincinnati, OH
November 3, 2018
Hosted by Camilla Gilbert and Brittney Underwood
RSVP here

If you are interested in hosting an event in your area, we’d love to chat! You can email Liz at lflo@oticonmedical.com or comment below.

What I’m doing with my Ponto – a readworthy roundup of accomplishments

Our community is filled with individuals who have overcome tremendous obstacles, advocated for themselves and others, and ultimately found the right hearing solution in the Ponto Bone Anchored Hearing System. Below we’ve highlighted just a few of our incredible community members in hopes that their stories will inspire and motivate, and continue to remind us of what human determination and persistence can achieve.

You can’t be what you can’t see – Marie Wilson 

Annika Sappington – heart warrior

Annika was born with bilateral microtia and atresia and last November was implanted with bilateral Ponto 3 SuperPowers. This month, she underwent open heart surgery to correct a heart anomaly and journeyed from Texas to Boston with her family for the operation. While Annika was in recovery, she wore one of her Ponto’s so she could hear her family, nurses and doctors entering the room.

“She refused to take her Ponto off for four days straight. 24/7 without turning it off. She wanted to be able to hear when the staff came in at night to check her vitals and give pain meds. I thought for sure the battery would run down with nonstop use and it hasn’t.” – Shannon Sappington, Annika’s mother

After a successful surgery, Annika traveled back to Texas, using her Streamer to enjoy her flight home where she is now recovering and jumping back into Summer activities.

“I love that on airplanes Annika can plug her streamer into the screen and it bluetooths to her Pontos—she can watch AND hear movies! Without that streamer, she wouldn’t be able to hear the movie since she has no ears for headphones. The streamer is her own personal headphone! It’s the little things that make a BIG difference!” Shannon Sappington

Emma Bowie – A chance to dance

Emma Bowie was born with left ear Microtia and has a Ponto Plus on a softband. She is a part of the ‘A Chance to Dance’ program at Miss Donna’s School of Dancing in North Carolina, where children with disabilities can learn an array of dance from lyrical, to jazz, to tap. ‘A Chance to Dance’ and Emma were featured on TODAY in a heartwarming video about the studio.

This year she competed at Nationals in a dance duo where she won Gold, earned 2nd place in her category and placed 13th out of 36 duos. Next month, she will be traveling to Secaucus, NJ for the World Dance Championship, and we’re wishing her the best of luck!

Anthony Smith – A real “Hear-O”

You might recognize Anthony Smith by a different name – “Blue Ear”. Blue Ear is a fictional superhero created by Marvel in honor of Anthony, a 9-year old Ponto user who also happens to love comic books. Anthony and his family inspired Marvel Comics to create a new superhero with a listening device, which led to the design of a comic that was distributed as an educational tool for children in NYC public schools. The comic helped teach children about hearing loss and why bullying is intolerable.

This year, Anthony was honored by the Children’s Hearing Institute at the UN, and took home the Hearing “Hear-O” Award for his advocacy and being a real-life inspiration to children with hearing loss all around the world.

Sarah Sabal – engineering her future

Sarah Sabal was unaided until the age of 7.5 when she was adopted by the Sabal family. She now has bilateral Lewin Ears and wears bilateral Oticon Medical Ponto 3 SuperPowers on abutments. She was recently accepted into a competitive engineering pipeline internship program with a multinational power company based in the UK. She is a top student, with the opportunity to pursue a number of different opportunities. Her mother Angela mentioned their concern about wearing the engineering hard hat over her Ponto 3 Superpowers.

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“My biggest worry was the engineering hard hat not fitting over her processors and having to reimplant her, but it was needless worry because the hard hat fits with zero feedback!!” – Angela Sabal

Isabella Rodriguez – advocating for herself on and off the court 

Isabella was born with microtia and atresia and began wearing a Ponto Bone Anchored Hearing System in 2015. She is now in high school and plays competitive volleyball while wearing her Ponto, which she says helps her hear her coaches and teammates. In 2017, she participated in the State Wide Oratorical Contest for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing and took first place. She is now preparing for college next year, where she intends to play volleyball at the collegiate level.

 

“I’m proving people wrong. It’s not just me, anyone with a hearing loss can do it, you just need to keep pushing.” – Isabella Rodriguez

If you’d like to learn more about the Ponto 3 SuperPower for yourself or your child, click below.

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“Her speech has taken off” – Why Staci Taylor chose the Oticon Medical Ponto for her daughter Lexi

Staci Taylor’s daughter, Alexia (Lexi), was born with microtia and atresia on her right side. As many do, Staci began the journey unsure of all of the options for Lexi’s hearing loss. Lexi was aided when she was five months old with a Bone Anchored Hearing System (BAHS) on a softband, and up until that point her family had never heard of the Ponto System.

Upon her daughter’s diagnosis of microtia and atresia, Staci joined several online support groups such as the BAHA Kids Club, where she was able to connect with other parents when the feedback from Lexi’s original BAHS became too overwhelming. Below are a few of the comments and suggestions other parents and bone anchored hearing users shared.

However, because Staci had already received a BAHS through her insurance, she was concerned another BAHS would not be covered. After a long battle with her insurance company, it was through the donor program of the BAHA Kids Club that Staci’s daughter was able to try a Ponto Plus on a softband. “She has had the device for about three months and we have little to no feedback. Her speech has taken off! Before the Ponto, she was only saying a handful of words here and there. Now she is stringing 2-3 words together!” Staci says.

Along with an increase in speech, Staci mentioned that she can whisper a question to Lexi on her right side and she responds without missing a beat. “After her first screening with her Ponto in the sound booth, she did better than she ever has before,” Staci explains.

When asked what her hearing journey with her daughter has taught her so far she said, “Ask about all your options and don’t settle. I pushed several times and finally was able to get our doctor to call an Oticon Medical representative in for our appointment. Now the whole staff at our hospital is Oticon Medical trained. Don’t give up. 

If you are interested in learning more about the latest addition to the Ponto Bone Anchored Hearing System – the Ponto 3 SuperPower – for yourself or your child click below.

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Transitioning from softband to abutment: A video diary of Calvin Underwood’s journey

When a child and parent feel ready to make the switch from wearing a Ponto on a softband to an abutment, there are a number of steps that can help prepare a family. To better illustrate the journey, Brittney Underwood is sharing her son Calvin’s story of preparing for his bilateral abutment surgery in June, where he will be receiving two Ponto 3 SuperPowers.

Video one: Why Calvin is transitioning to Ponto 3 SuperPowers on abutments

“Because he’s wearing his Pontos on a softband he’s not getting the access that he would have if it was direct bone contact” – Brittney

 

Video two: How Brittney is helping her son Calvin prepare for abutment surgery

“We’ve been explaining it to Calvin and showing him pictures of abutments.” – Brittney

 

Video three: Calvin’s recovery from his abutment surgery

“It went really well. He’s not having any pain, he’s just really tired.” – Brittney

 

Video four: Calvin’s recovery from his abutment surgery

“His abutments are healing amazingly.” – Brittney

 

Video five: Calvin receives his Ponto 3 SuperPowers on his abutments!

“He’s snapped on!” – Brittney

 

Video six: Improvements after Calvin’s abutment surgery

“Calvin has exploded in speech. We are loving this new processor and the abutment!” – Brittney 

Video seven: Improvements after Calvin’s abutment surgery

“We are seeing so many big things since he was snapped on! Here he is saying the alphabet with Alpha pig!” – Brittney

 

Are you interested in learning more about the Ponto 3 SuperPower for your child? Click below and a member of our team will be in touch.

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Michael gets a Ponto 3 SuperPower with the help of Ear Community and Oticon Medical

Meet one-year-old Michael Mitrovich, who was born with a cleft palate, a small right ear and because of IUGR, did not grow at a normal rate during pregnancy. His parents, Azziza and Matthew, were overwhelmed and disheartened by Michael’s diagnosis and complications but were on a mission to do everything they could to give him the help he needed.

After having trouble with insurance, Azziza reached out to Ear Community for help. With the help of Michael’s audiologist, Dr. Deedra Alford from Childrensent, a Pediatric ENT practice of Atlanta, Michael received his Ponto 3 SuperPower in just a few weeks!

On April 14, 2018 Michael received a newly donated Ponto 3 SuperPower on a softband from Oticon Medical that was donated through the Ear Community organization.

“His face lit up, and his parents could tell how much wonder he had at the new sounds he could hear.”

“For such a little boy, he has had to fight some big battles, and we are so excited for the opportunity to help him on his journey. A very warm thank you to Dr. Alford, who not only donated her time to program and fit Michael’s device, but also requested an additional third year of services for his Ponto 3 SuperPower so that his family can rest assured that his Ponto is covered and will work to help him hear his best for a long time.” – Melissa Tumblin, Founder of Ear Community.

Are you interested in learning more about the Oticon Medical Ponto for yourself or your child? We’d be happy to connect with you an audiologist in your area: click below and let us know!

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Joe Berry captures it all through wildlife photography with the help of his Ponto 3 SuperPower

Joe Berry has always had a passion for the outdoors, nature and wildlife. He is a certified Georgia Master Naturalist and said that one of the greatest differences he’s noticed with his Ponto 3 SuperPower is the directional hearing, which helps make his photography so successful.

An introduction to hearing aids, then discovering the Ponto Bone Anchored Hearing System
Joe has mild to moderately severe sensorineural hearing loss in his left ear, as well as severe to profound hearing loss in his right ear. He received his first hearing aid in 2011 for his right ear, but the loss in ventilation began causing chronic ear infections. “Even while placing myself in strategic locations to keep speakers on my ‘good side’ I was still struggling at both work and home,” he says.

When speaking to his audiologist and exploring bi-cross hearing aids he worried that the sound would be unnatural since this was his experience with his original hearing aid and that he would lose what little directional hearing he had. “At my work, it’s not uncommon to be at sites that have forklifts and other equipment with audible alarms that I need to be able to locate to keep myself safe from injury. I also love my time outdoors and needed my directional hearing to preserve that enjoyment,” he explains.

As Joe began researching other options he came across the term “BAHS” or Bone Anchored Hearing System. He brought the information to his audiologist who said he might be a candidate.

“When I’m deciding if I want to try a product and which brand to go with I look for forums with stories of real-life experiences. I found forums with so many testimonials of how much better Bone Anchored Hearing Systems were and so many positive testimonials on the Ponto and how life-changing they were. I shared the information with my wife and we decided to go forward with Ponto,” he says.

They located Ear Consultants of Georgia who confirmed he was a candidate and surgery followed.

Receiving the Ponto 3 SuperPower
Joe received his first Ponto, a Ponto Pro, in 2012 and describes it as life-changing. “It was so much more natural sounding than my hearing aid. I used my Ponto almost all of my waking hours because it made life easier. I would even forget that I had it on,” he says.

After about five years, Joe discovered that his hearing loss had increased and he would need a more powerful model. After applying for a new Ponto twice, he finally received his Ponto 3 SuperPower (P3SP) in February of 2018.

A new world through photography
Joe is a certified Georgia Master Naturalist whose photos have been used by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Elachee Nature Science Center.

“Most of the wildlife that I photograph is very shy and if you have to wait until you see them to know their location they will likewise see your movement of the camera and be gone before you can get the focus. With my Ponto I can tell the direction of those animals that are vocal or ‘leaf crunchers’ and have my camera in position before we are within sight of each other. This keeps my movement and detection of my presence to a minimum and preserves more opportunities to get the image,” he explains.

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Life after Ponto
Waiting to receive his P3SP was a difficult time for Joe and his family. “My wife was my greatest cheerleader during the long appeal. I was slipping back into the reclusive behavior with times of depression that I had experienced before the first Ponto. My wife said that if we had to pay the full amount she wanted me to have it, that it made all the difference in how much conversation that I had with her and other family members,” he said. Since receiving his Ponto 3 SuperPower this year, Joe’s word recognition is now at 92 %. He likens the feeling of not having his Ponto to being in a dark storm and having his Ponto 3 SuperPower to blue skies.

Ready to learn more about the latest Ponto 3 SuperPower? Click below to be connected to our team:

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2018 Ear Community Microtia and Atresia Summer Family Picnics

Summer is around the corner which means Ear Community’s annual summer family picnics are almost here! Each year, Ear Community hosts picnics around the world helping bring microtia and atresia families together. Medical professionals such as microtia and atresia repair surgeons, anaplastologists, ENTs, audiologists, and therapists along with hearing device and medical device companies all come together to help educate attendees on all their options including hearing loss.

We’re excited to once again join Ear Community as sponsors and participants of this year’s events. So mark your calendars, because this year’s picnics will take place in Sacramento, California/ El Paso, Texas/ Cincinnati, Ohio/ Nashville, Tennessee/ Charleston, South Carolina/ and Hamilton, Ontario – Canada!

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Below are exact locations and RSVP information. See you there!

California Ear Community Picnic
Sacramento, California
Date:  Saturday, June 23rd, 2018
Time:  11AM to 3PM
RSVP to Heidi at:  EarCommunityCaliforniaPicnic@gmail.com

Texas Ear Community Picnic
El Paso, Texas
Date:  Saturday, July 21st, 2018
Time:  11AM to 3PM
RSVP to Heidi at:  EarCommunityELPasoPicnic@gmail.com

Tennessee Ear Community Picnic
Nashville, Tennessee
Date:  Saturday, July 21st, 2018
Time:  1PM to 5PM
RSVP to Melissa at:  TennesseeEarCommunityPicnic@gmail.com
*  This picnic is in collaboration with the VUMC Microita and Atresia surgeon conference.

Ohio Ear Community Picnic
Cincinnati, Ohio
Date:  Saturday, July 28th, 2018
Time:  11AM to 3PM
RSVP to Heidi at:  OhioEarCommunityPicnic@gmail.com

Ontario Ear Community Picnic
Hamilton, Ontario – Canada
Date:  Saturday, July 28th, 2018
Time:  11AM to 3PM
RSVP to Heidi at:  EarCommunityCanadaPicnic@gmail.com

South Carolina Ear Community Picnic
Charleston, South Carolina
Date:  Saturday, August 11th, 2018
Time:  11AM to 3PM
RSVP to Heidi at:  EarCommunityCharlestonPicnic@gmail.com

 

After over 40 years with single sided deafness, Carl Bjerke finds the right hearing solution

In 1973, a snowmobile accident changed Carl Bjerke’s life. The accident, which resulted in head trauma, left Carl with permanent hearing loss on his left side. “My hearing was never checked and I just didn’t think much of it, and simply dealt with it,” he says.

His first hearing test
In 1980, Carl joined the U.S. Army as a mechanic but never told anyone about his hearing loss. “I had to constantly ask people ‘what did you say’ over and over again,” he says. It wasn’t until 1986 that Carl had his first hearing test and was officially diagnosed with single-sided deafness. He was given a crossover hearing aid, but quickly found it was too loud, especially for his position as a mechanic. “In just a few weeks, I found that it was overloading my good side, and I never wore it again,” he explains.

Trying a bone anchored hearing system
In 2008, Carl’s audiologist suggested he try a new technology—a Bone Anchored Hearing System (BAHS). They gave him a BAHS to try on a headband. As soon as he put the processor on, he noticed a huge difference in his hearing. “I could hear things on my left side that I couldn’t hear before,” he says. Once he returned the demo processor, he began his journey to have an abutment placed for his own Ponto Bone Anchored Hearing System.

“I really researched the units that were out there and was very logical in reviewing all the facts. I looked at all the data and the Ponto 3 SuperPower was the best option for me,” he explains.

A new world emerges
In 2017, after concluding that insurance would cover the cost of his BAHS, Carl had the surgery.Three months later, Carl’s Ponto 3 SuperPower was programmed and activated. He recounts leaving his audiologist’s office that day and hearing his wife speak to him for the first time while she was standing on his left side. “I could understand her without saying ‘what or excuse me,” he says.

Today, Carl works as a quality and safety manager with Diagnostic Group LLC in Minneapolis and no longer has to go to a meeting early to find a good seat so he can hear everyone. “I was doing an audit in Florida and I could carry on a conversation with everyone. Everyone’s voices were clearer,” he says. Using his Oticon Medical Streamer he is able to connect to his phone and when listening to music he says he gets ‘the full range of music’.

To those struggling with single-sided deafness (SSD), Carl says, “There is help for people with SSD. Get your hearing checked, you might also benefit from a Ponto Bone Anchored Hearing System.”

To learn more about the latest Ponto 3 SuperPower click below:

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