Category Archives: Community

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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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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From fearful to fearless – how advocacy helped Cierra McCorkell receive her abutment surgery

Cierra McCorkell was born with bilateral hearing loss with microtia and atresia on the left side.

She received her first Ponto Bone Anchored Hearing device in 2012 when she was in 6th grade after her hearing loss had progressed. She began wearing a Ponto Pro on a headband and continued with the headband until she was in high school. When discussing the possibility of surgery, she found the decision overwhelming, and surgery was a frightening thought.

“Just the word alone made her afraid. I have always let her choose for herself when she is ready to do something so this decision was solely on her.” – Theresa McCorkell

While researching bone anchored hearing, Cierra’s mother Theresa found the blog of a Ponto advocate who had written about her recent surgery to have her abutment placed. Theresa commented that her daughter was afraid of the surgery which sparked an online conversation that would lead Theresa and Cierra to Oticon Medical’s annual patient advocacy conference to learn more about the procedure.

Overcoming a fear of surgery
In October of 2016, Cierra and her mother attended the Oticon Medical Patient Advocacy Workshop. It was there, among fellow Ponto users, that Cierra expressed her fear of surgery and where she learned first hand about the Minimally Invasive Ponto Surgery (MIPS) procedure.

“She had never met anyone like her. But now she saw other children and adults who were doing great with the surgery and that helped her a lot. Cierra was nervous because she doesn’t talk about her hearing loss and we didn’t know what to expect. We had a great time and we learned a lot. She made friends and it opened up a whole new conversation for her to learn how to advocate for herself now that she is getting older.” – Theresa McCorkell

On the last day of the conference, Cierra announced that she had made the decision to move forward with abutment surgery thanks to the stories and information provided by fellow advocates.

Surgery and activation
On September 1, 2017, Cierra was implanted using the MIPS procedure. Her mother comments that the surgery was less than an hour and without complications. Four months after her abutment was placed, Cierra was finally able to snap on her Ponto Pro, which her mother captured in the video below.

 

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

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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