Author Archives: Liz Flores

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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Advice from 8 Ponto Parents

Finding the right hearing solution for your child’s individual hearing loss can be difficult. While research is an important aspect of finding the right solution, we also believe there is power in stories and listening to what others have to say about their experience.  Below we’ve brought together advice from eight parents who chose Ponto for their children.

Research, research, research

“I just want to make other people aware that there are other options. Check other resources to make sure you are making an informed decision right away. I quickly learned that no one is going to give me all the information I need.” – Caroline Mannato

“Research those (Facebook and other groups) boards. Don’t allow yourself to be saddled with one device because your audiologist doesn’t want to try something different. Fight for your children’s rights. Make sure you know you have options.” – Jillian Shelton

Social media groups can not only provide community but valuable information

“Look to social media support groups on Facebook, like this one and this one, to help research options and talk to adults and who are wearing the devices you are interested in. – Liz Anderson

“Ultimately, what helped was knowing there are people just like her out there.” – Theresa McCorkell

“The stories that adults and older children were telling were the stories we needed to hear.” – Erin Bullock

Trial other options

“Insist on trialing all options. It’s definitely worth the time it takes.” – Laurie Jarvis

“Try all your options, on your child and yourself, to help you make the most informed decision for your family.” – Heidi Jeffs

“If you have an audiologist who is not open to trying a different company, push or go elsewhere – just do your research.” – Liz Anderson

“Advocate, because our children need us.” – Shannon Gordon

Interested in learning more about these Ponto families? Click below to read more in-depth into their individual hearing journey in our new Patient eBook.

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Advocating for a better solution – Dominic’s journey to the Ponto 3 SuperPower

When Caroline Mannato’s son, Dominic, was born with unilateral microtia and atresia she worked with her audiologist to quickly have him aided with a bone anchored hearing system (BAHS). At six months old, he received his first BAHS, however, acoustical feedback was a constant issue.

“He has curly hair and the curls kept hitting the device and just from his hair, it would create feedback. It was constantly buzzing. I realized within the first few weeks this was not acceptable.” – Caroline Mannato

Caroline enrolled her son in an early intervention program to do monthly speech evaluations and through this program, she was able to connect with another mother whose daughter also had microtia and atresia.

“I invited her over for coffee and she brought her daughter’s Ponto device. I mentioned my feedback issues and she said they hadn’t experienced any. We compared my device to hers and I asked her ‘how do you turn it on’. She said it was on – it wasn’t vibrating or making any noise. I had mixed emotions thinking ‘why don’t I have this for my child’.” – Caroline Mannato

The Mannato family began researching and going to hearing events around the country trying to educate themselves on all available options. From Ear Community picnics to the Earicles Microtia Atresia Conference in California, and Vanderbilt Microtia and Atresia Clinic in Tennessee, Caroline specifically sought out adults who were BAHS users to speak to. She found that many adults had started with other BAHS’s and eventually switched to the Oticon Medical Ponto. It was these patient interactions and stories that confirmed for Caroline that Dominic needed the Ponto Bone Anchored Hearing System.

Dominic received the Ponto 3 SuperPower and was the first person programmed with a Ponto device at UNC-Chapel Hill. The results since then have been night and day.

“When we take it off, he points at it and he wants it. Then you put it on him and he smiles. Leaving the house is less of a hassle too now. I don’t have to take it off and put it back on him to prevent feedback. When it’s on, it’s on.” – Caroline Mannato

To other parents who are also on the journey of finding the best hearing option for their child, Caroline’s advice is research, because you have options.

 

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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‘We wanted the very best’ – a parent’s perspective on choosing the Ponto Bone Anchored Hearing System

Zhou Yu (“Z”) was born with bilateral microtia and atresia. While living in China he was unaided until he was adopted almost 2 years ago by the Bullock family. His mother Erin began doing research regarding what the best hearing care options would be for Z, knowing he would have progress to make not only learning a new language but hearing for the first time.

“It was not a hard decision to make once we did all the research. The stories that adults and older children were telling were the stories we needed to here. When we demoed products, he even could tell the difference and he picked Ponto” – Erin

In the video below, Erin explains why her family chose Ponto and the difference it is making in her son Z’s life.

Interested in learning more about our newest Ponto – the Ponto 3 SuperPower? Click the button below to be connected to a representative from our team.

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Persistence pays off for a Ponto mom

Rachel and her son Maxwell have come a long way in the last year in finding the right hearing device to alleviate his hearing loss. Maxwell was born without an ear canal, and at nine months old his mother Rachel fought to find the right hearing solution for her son.

However, when Maxwell received his Ponto on a softband, a new struggle emerged.

Maxwell didn’t keep it on. It went straight to his mouth. I felt selfish for accepting this. I started to feel guilty. What if he never wore it?

Rachel was struggling with what many parents of young softband users struggle with—keeping the Ponto on their child’s head and out of their mouth.

Her solution? “Ponto time!” Every day Rachel would cheerfully tell Maxwell it was “Ponto time,” and for five minutes she’d work with him to keep his Ponto on.

Her persistence has paid off.

He just turned a year, and he LOVES his Ponto. He wears it all the time without messing with it. I don’t need to monitor him anymore. He plays independently with it on.

Rachel’s advice to other parents struggling to keep their children wearing their Pontos – don’t give up!

If your little one is struggling or goes through a regression phase, it will get better! They will soon understand what this beautiful device provides!

The new Ponto Softband is now available for purchase in our Webshop! I

If you’d like to learn more about how the Softband can provide early support for children with hearing loss, you can click here to speak to a representative.

The Journey to the Best Hearing in the Classroom

Many of our Ponto users who are children have experienced positive change, particularly in the classroom. If you’re considering aiding your child with a hearing device it’s important to understand how louder environments, like classrooms or playgrounds, can affect a hearing device.

Melissa Tumblin, founder of Ear Community, whose daughter Ally is a Ponto user shares some great insight on setting your child up for success in the classroom.

Ally Tumblin wearing her Ponto Plus on a Softband

Ally has a severe hearing loss in her right ear (65dB-70dB). She was tested at a 65dB hearing
loss yesterday. Ally was tested while wearing her BAHS (Ponto Plus) made by Oticon Medical in the booth and her hearing with the hearing device is brought back up to the normal hearing range (between 15dB to 20dB)….which has been the norm for us over the years with her testing and Ponto.

However, this time the audiologist chose to include noise interference in the sound booth – lots of background noise to see how well Ally could hear and covered her mouth when saying words and sentences to Ally, asking her to repeat them back to her. Well, even when aided, her hearing dropped to 56% (when it was in the normal hearing range without background noise) because of all of the noise. But then, the audiologist added Ally’s FM system back in and also removed the card from her mouth so Ally could see her lips when she spoke to her and her hearing response went back up to 96%! (which is great!)

So, the lesson learned here for those of you who are considering aiding your child (or yourself) with a hearing device is that hearing devices help amplify sound and help make things louder, so you can hear better. When extra noise is added to your daily activities, it can still be difficult to hear everything. However, when you combine an FM system (such as to help your child hear better in the school classroom), and your child is being taught how to be a “visual” learner and be aware to always be looking, watching and reading lips, then together….all of these things help optimize your child’s maximum potential to hear his/her very best.

I see such a difference with her and her Ponto, every day! Thank you Oticon Medical! Thank you for helping my daughter hear her best with her Ponto Plus!

Want to learn more about our newest addition to the Ponto family of processors? Click the button below to be connected to a representative from our team.

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2017 Ear Community Microtia and Atresia Summer Family Picnics

It’s that time of year again when the weather gets warmer and we start making our summer plans! We’re thrilled to once again be sponsors and participants in the Ear Community’s Microtia and Atresia Summer Family Picnics.

Every year, Ear Community hosts picnics all around the world helping bring Microtia and Atresia families together to share experiences and make new friends. Medical professionals such as Microtia and Atresia repair surgeons, anaplastologists, ENT’s, audiologists, and therapists along with hearing device companies all come together at the events to educate and inform attendees of their options. The picnics are free and provide lunch and family friendly activities.

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This year’s picnics will take place in the following locations around the U.S.:

Maryland Ear Community Picnic
Annapolis, Maryland
Date:  Saturday June 10th, 2017
Time:  11AM to 3PM
RSVP to Heidi at:  AnnapolisEarCommunityPicnic@gmail.com

Texas Ear Community Picnic
Austin, Texas

Date:  Saturday, June 10th, 2017
Time:  11AM to 3PM
RSVP to Heidi at:  AustinEarCommunityPicnic@gmail.com

Colorado Ear Community Picnic
Broomfield, Colorado
Date:  Saturday June 24th, 2017
Time:  11AM to 3PM
RSVP to Melissa at:  ColoradoMicrotia@hotmail.com

New York Ear Community Picnic
Ardsley, New York
Date:  Saturday, July 22nd, 2017
Time:  11AM to 3PM
RSVP to Heidi at:  ArdsleyEarCommunityPicnic@gmail.com

Florida Ear Community Picnic
Fort Pierce, Florida
Date:  Saturday, July 22nd, 2017
Time:  11AM to 3PM
RSVP to Heidi at:  FortPierceEarCommunityPicnic@gmail.com

Tennessee Ear Community Picnic
Nashville, Tennessee
Date:  Saturday, July 22nd, 2017
Time:  1PM to 5PM
RSVP to Melissa at:  TennesseeEarCommunityPicnic@gmail.com

We look forward to seeing you there!

“We’re Just Trying To Do What’s Best for Him” – A Parent’s Perspective

Davin is 8 years old and was born with bilateral microtia and atresia. In the video below, Davin and his mother, Shannon Gordon, talk about his hearing journey with his Ponto’s and their experience with the new Ponto 3 SuperPower.

“Davin’s hearing is one of the most important things in our life and we’re just trying to do what’s best for him.” – Shannon

Interested in learning more about the Ponto 3 SuperPower? Click the button below to be connected to a representative from our team.

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The Gift of Hearing Travels to Africa

We’d like to introduce you to someone very special!

Meet Raheeg Abdelrahman, a four-year-old girl living in Sudan with her younger twin siblings, her mother, and her father, Eltahir.

Raheeg was born with bilateral Microtia and Atresia, and when her family couldn’t find a suitable hearing device in Sudan, they traveled to Egypt to meet with an audiologist who they hoped could help them find a solution. Unfortunately, the family was unable to find an affordable solution and were forced to return home without a device for Raheeg.

That’s when we heard about Raheeg and her family through our friends at the Ear Community and partnered with them to provide two Oticon Medical Ponto Plus hearing devices for her.

The devices were sent to Egypt where Raheeg was fitted with her devices with great results:

 “She can answer our call easily and surely this will help her to receive her lessons like other kids…it is difficult to get words to express my thanks but I say God bless you!

Please convey my deepest heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all of Oticon Medical staff for the help and support they provide to everybody in our Ear Community, and special thanks for Mr. Alan Raffauf, Tove Rosenbom, and Claus Frees Horneman…THANKS to YOU dear friends for giving me hope that my daughter can go to school, hearing sounds and practice her life like other kids.  Thank you for making my impossible dream become real!”

– Eltahir Abdelrahman

We’re honored to have had the opportunity to help provide the gift of hearing to another individual with hearing loss and are thankful for our friends at the Ear Community for sharing Raheeg’s story with us!

If you’d like to learn more about Raheeg and Microtia and Atresia, the Ear Community blog is a great resource!

The Power of Clarity – A Review of the Ponto 3 Power

As members of our community begin to try the new Ponto 3 family of processors, we’re in awe with the positive change it’s making in patients’ lives. One such change occurred for William and his mother, Hannah Wood.

Below Hannah gives her own review of the Ponto 3 Power:

William has had these (Ponto 3 Powers) on soft band for 6 days. He’s nearly 6.

When asked, he says they are better than the Ponto Plus as he hears the whole sentence and doesn’t lose words like he used to. I’ve noticed that he doesn’t ask ‘what did you say?’ anymore too and says it isn’t louder but is much clearer to hear.

From my perspective, I’ve noticed he’s much better at hearing me when I am behind him/suboptimal placement. Before, if we weren’t already engaged, it was hard to get his attention from such a position but not now.

The biggest indicator I have thought is the TV! Before without the TV box connected (via Streamer), I set a limit to a volume of 24 (he would have it in the 40’s if unchecked). Now, he naturally sets it around 18 which is where I have it.

Overall it is clear he hears much better and we’re both very happy.

Interested in trying the Ponto 3 family of abutment-level processors? The Ponto 3 SuperPower processors are in stock and now available! Just click the button below to learn more.


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