Category Archives: Helpful Information

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.

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

A Living List of Apps for Children and Adults with Hearing Loss

2020 Update

Melissa Tumblin, founder of Ear Community and Oticon Medical Ambassador, originally shared this great list of mobile apps for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing. We are resharing it with an update that includes apps for Android™ users as well as the original spreadsheet for iPhone® apps.

We thank audiologist Tina Childress, who is also hard of hearing, for compiling the original spreadsheet. Thanks also goes out to Kevin Martin, editor at Joy of Android, for sharing the article on Android apps.

iPhone apps for the hard of hearing

To view the spreadsheet, click below. Here are a few pointers to help you navigate through this available information:

  • Start on the “Welcome” tab to understand how the apps are chosen and categorized
  • Click through each tab of the spreadsheet to see the list of apps for that category
  • To find out more about an app, click on the cell with the app’s hyperlink. You’ll then have the option to “go to link;” click the link
  • Clicking the link will take you to the application’s information page on iTunes.com. Here, you can see screenshots of the app, read more about it and even view in iTunes where you can download the application. You can also search for the app in the App Store and download it directly to your phone

Helpful Resources and Applications

Click on the image above or here to see the full spreadsheet.

Android apps for the hearing impaired

In this article from Joy of Android, you will find five useful apps for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. These apps are available in the Google Play™ store.

Click here for Ponto apps and accessories from Oticon Medical.

Do you know of a great app? Let us know in the comments section!

The Ponto Loaner Program: Bridging the gap, because sound matters

Early access to sound is the key to linguistic development

Children require a lot of things to acquire speech as they grow. Chief among these? Exposure to sound – specifically spoken language, as early access to sound promotes optimal speech and language learning. The best way to ensure they receive this access is by providing hard of hearing youngsters with premium hearing care as soon as possible.

The role of sound in childhood development

From infancy through early childhood, we pick up language through daily exposure to spoken words, eventually reaching the stage where we begin to speak and repeat those words. Research indicates that children need to hear and understand how words are used contextually — and hear themselves repeat those words — to achieve comprehension and the ability to use language clearly and accurately.[1]

Although sound enters through the ears, hearing occurs in the brain — particularly language processing. Physically, the growth of a child’s auditory brain center requires regular sound stimulation, without which they might never fully develop the ability to process and comprehend language. Kids whose hearing loss goes untreated will typically experience linguistic developmental delays and struggle to make themselves understood verbally throughout their lives.[2]

Difficulty hearing contributes to educational and social challenges

Unless they attend a school for the deaf and hard of hearing, children with unaided hearing loss will likely experience significant difficulties learning.[3] Mainstream schools require kids to listen to lessons in the classroom, directions during playground and sports activities, and engage verbally with teachers and classmates throughout the day. Those who cannot hear often fall behind their peers, especially if they are held back a grade. Combined with frustrations stemming from straining to hear and communicate daily, academic delays can lead to youngsters withdrawing, avoiding in-school socializing and extracurricular activities. Feelings of isolation and being overwhelmed academically could contribute to negative lifelong issues like loneliness, depression, and low self-esteem.[4]

Aiding children who have conductive hearing loss

While traditional hearing aids can help many children, some kids require greater assistance – a bone anchored hearing system (BAHS) – because they are missing all or some of the organs required for natural hearing (i.e., conductive hearing loss). This presents parents with an additional challenge, as children typically must reach the age of five before they can receive an implant, plus many parents need insurance coverage to afford them. Since we develop many of our fundamental language skills before five, this creates a treatment gap that could permanently affect linguistic development.

Fortunately, BAHS can be used to help children even before implantation. Babies and toddlers can wear the devices with a softband, which is basically a head band that holds the BAHS processor against their skull without surgery. While skin contact doesn’t provide the same level of amplification as when the processor is affixed to an abutment, a child will still receive significant developmental benefits, such as early acquisition of the building blocks of language and the ability to participate more easily in the world around them.

However, the question of affording the processors remains, as insurers often take some time to approve coverage of these necessary devices.

What to do while waiting for insurance coverage

You might find yourself frustrated while waiting for your insurer to approve your child’s BAHS, especially after being told all the benefits of early-as-possible treatment. Fortunately, Oticon Medical offers an option while you’re awaiting insurance approval, so you can get your child the hearing device they need now: the Ponto™ Loaner Program. This program is designed to help your child receive the premium hearing care they need to thrive without delay.

The program provides Ponto sound processors and softbands for children from birth to five years of age who require direct amplification to hear speech and sounds. Your child will benefit by being given the ability to hear sounds during their critical early years, enabling them to participate actively in the world around them while you’re awaiting third-party reimbursement approval.

For details on how to enroll in the loaner program, please speak to your audiologist or feel free to contact us.

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Gabrielle Simone is a Clinical Territory Manager in New England with Oticon Medical. She has worked in private practice and hospital settings and has a specialization in clinical application for hearing aids and cochlear implants.  For the past 6 years, Gabrielle has worked as a Training and Education Specialist for the Northeast and Western New York region, for Widex and Oticon. In this role, she provided technical, clinical, and product support to audiologists and hearing instrument specialists (HIS). She also served as an adjunct professor at Northeastern University in the AuD program. An alumna of Emerson College, she earned her M.S. in Audiology from the University of Connecticut and her Doctor of Audiology from the University of Florida. In her current position with Oticon Medical, she provides clinical, technical and sales support to physicians, audiologists, and hospital personnel.

[1]  Committee on the Science of Children Birth to Age 8: Deepening and Broadening the Foundation for Success; Board on Children, Youth, and Families; Institute of Medicine; National Research Council; Allen LR, Kelly BB, editors. Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2015 Jul 23. 4, Child Development and Early Learning. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310550/

[2] Early Intervention and Language Development in Children Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing Mary Pat Moeller Pediatrics Sep 2000, 106 (3) e43; DOI: 10.1542/peds.106.3.e43

[3] Vogel, S. & Schwabe, L. (2016). Learning and memory under stress: implications for the classroom. npj Science of Learning 1, Article number: 16011

[4] Theunissen SC, Rieffe C, Netten AP, et al. Self-esteem in hearing-impaired children: the influence of communication, education, and audiological characteristics. PLoS One. 2014;9(4):e94521. Published 2014 Apr 10. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0094521

Using Social Media to Support Hearing Health Advocacy_5

Part 5 of 5

In Part 4 of this series, I provided tips on how to put the “social” in your social media. In this edition, the conclusion, I’ll talk about how to analyze your performance and adjust if you find you’re off-track in reaching your goals.

Analyze and adapt

All social media platforms offer statistics you can use to track the performance of each post you’re making. You’ll want to keep an eye on Engagement in particular – the number of Likes/Shares/Comments on Facebook and LinkedIn, retweets and comments on Twitter, and “regrams” and comments on Instagram. By reviewing and tracking this data you can make informed content strategy decisions based on which items performed well or not. Expect that you’ll have to periodically tweak your topics, balance of post types, post release times, and more over time as audience makeup and preferences change.

You’ll also want to keep an eye on your Reach to make sure your audience is even seeing your posts. This is especially true now that Facebook has made it all but impossible to reach your entire (or even the majority of) your Fans/Followers list without paying to boost a post. You might need to strategize and decide which posts you should boost and how much money you can afford to put behind these to reach as many people as possible. Obviously, anything boosted should include a clear call to action in support of your goal.

Nothing succeeds like success

Ultimately, you will know your online strategy is working if you attain that defined and measurable goal you set. Whether it’s an increase in donations or number of event attendees, gaining more advocates for your cause or influencing legislation, skillful utilization of social media can go a long way toward helping advocates like you achieve your goals.

Do you or a loved one need your hearing tested? Find a clinic near you now!

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Hildy Silverman is the Manager of Digital Online Marketing for Oticon Medical US. She has nearly 30 years of experience in corporate training, traditional and online marketing, and professional/technical communications for a wide array of industries, most recently at a global hearing aid manufacturer.

Using Social Media to Support Hearing Health Advocacy_4

Part 4 of 5

In Part 3 of this series, I provided suggestions on how to choose the right social media channels to maximize your digital reach. This week, in Part 4, I offer tips on how to put the “social” in your social media.

Sharing is caring

The point of social media is interaction. You want to draw visitors to your content, engage with it (and you), and ideally take an action that supports your established goal. The best way to do this is make sure whatever you share is interesting and relevant to your target audience and includes an engaging visual element (photo, .gif, or video).

Regularity is also key, so make sure you establish a content release schedule you can manage consistently. This rewards audience loyalty to your properties, which in turn allows you compete against all the other social outlets vying for their attention. Examples of good schedules include one post on Facebook or three-five daily tweets on Twitter per day. Remember, you can utilize a content management platform like HootSuite to schedule posts/tweets in advance so that you aren’t overwhelmed by a frequent need to post. Even without one of these platforms, you can schedule ahead on Facebook from the platform itself.

Don’t forget the hashtags

Make sure you learn how to use hashtags on all your platforms – they’re not just for Twitter anymore! “Ride” popular hashtags related to your cause so that more of your potential audience can discover your content. Using single-sided deafness (SSD) as our model cause again, you could include #deaf, #hearingloss, or #hoh regularly with your posts, which makes them show up when someone performs one of these common searches for content. Additionally, if you see a hashtag is trending that relates to your cause (e.g., #WorldHearingDay) you could include it in a post linking SSD to the importance of getting your hearing checked. Just make sure you don’t go crazy with the hashtags – using too many in relation to the amount of content provided in a post has been shown to reduce engagement.

One more post to go in this series! In my next post, I’ll provide an overview on how to analyze the results of your online efforts and tweak them to achieve your goals.

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Hildy Silverman is the Manager of Digital Online Marketing for Oticon Medical US. She has nearly 30 years of experience in corporate training, traditional and online marketing, and professional/technical communications for a wide array of industries, most recently at a global hearing aid manufacturer.

Using Social Media to Support Hearing Health Advocacy_3

Part 3 of 5

In Part 2 of this series launched last week, I provided suggestions on how to set S.M.A.R.T. goals for your online activities. This week, in Part 3, I’m going to take you through how to choose the right social media channels to maximize your digital reach.

Choose the right channels

I recommend setting up a “home base” online first — a website if you have a larger organization with multiple goals or a blog page if your organization is small or a solo effort. WordPress and Wix are two examples of free, user-friendly site builders available to help you establish a basic web presence. Your site or blog will provide a source of regular content to share through your social media properties. It will also give you a central location to which you can drive online visitors and get them to take an action (e.g., donate, learn more, sign up for emails and events, etc.), which you will need for tracking purposes.

Research your target audiences and where they tend to gather online to assess which social media platforms will best support your efforts. Focus on developing one or two properties first. Most activists and advocates start with Facebook and Twitter, but platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat can be quite effective as well.

A YouTube channel is a powerful tool, as videos increase engagement with social posts. They can be shared from your channel by friend, fans, and followers through every social media platform, and are the content likeliest to go viral. However, you (or someone in your organization) obviously needs the expertise and time to create them.

LinkedIn tends to draw a more career-focused, professional audience, which may or may not suit your goals. Reddit gets tremendous traffic, but many find it complicated, riddled with trolls, and too much of an attention drain to manage. Tumblr is popular, especially with younger audiences (tweens, teens, and 20-somethings primarily) — depending on your goal, that audience might be worth your effort to cultivate but go in knowing that it is a constantly updating outlet. Plus, you’ll be competing with extremely active fandoms and similar lighthearted content for attention.

Managing multiple social properties

If you do reach a point where you want to utilize multiple platforms, it’s a good idea to learn a social media management tool (a couple tried-and-true options offering free basic versions include HootSuite and TweetDeck). These allow you to schedule multiple posts across platforms even in advance, plus they let you monitor comments and messages, so you can interact with your audiences in a timely and consistent fashion. If you’re willing to invest in upgraded versions, you can use them to track valuable performance statistics like audience engagement all in one spot.

Hope this information is helpful! In my next post, I’ll provide tips on how to put the “social” in your social media.

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Hildy Silverman is the Manager of Digital Online Marketing for Oticon Medical US. She has nearly 30 years of experience in corporate training, traditional and online marketing, and professional/technical communications for a wide array of industries, most recently at a global hearing aid manufacturer.

Using Social Media to Support Hearing Health Advocacy_2

Part 2 of 5

In Part 1 of this series launched last week, I provided suggestions on what to consider before establishing your online presence. This week, in Part 2, I’m going to guide you through how to define the goals you hope to reach by taking your advocacy online.

Be S.M.A.R.T.

Continuing with single-sided deafness (SSD) advocacy as an example cause, let’s say you start with a goal of, “To raise awareness of single-sided deafness”. That’s a fine start, but you should further define what you hope to achieve online in order to track your progress and results. Most social media professionals utilize the S.M.A.R.T. method to establish clear and attainable goals. Let’s look at how this works by using this method to refine our sample goal:

  • Specific. The more precisely defined, the better. If you’re defining an online presence, here are some examples to help you set specific goals:
    • Who — do you want to reach by taking your advocacy online?
    • What — do you intend to accomplish for your cause?
    • When — what milestones do you want to reach on your way to the goal?
    • Where — do you want your online reach to extend (local, countrywide, global)?
    • Why — are you choosing to expand your advocacy to include online efforts?
    • How — are you going to use social media to achieve your goal?

This leads to a clearer, more precisely defined goal, e.g., “To raise public awareness in the U.S. of the issues affecting those living with single-sided deafness in order to increase donations this year.”

 

  • Measurable. How do you know if you’ve increased donations? Set a measurement, such as, “Double the number of donations received over last year.”
  • Attainable. Look closely at that number and make sure it’s achievable. It’s usually wise to start smaller and then build over time. In this case, perhaps something more attainable would be, “Increase donations by 10 percent over last year.”
  • Relevant. Consider whether social media provides an opportunity you wouldn’t have otherwise. If so, then ask yourself, “How?” Adjust your goal to focus on what you plan to achieve using tools uniquely available online, such as, “Increase donations by 10 percent this year by driving Friends/Fans/Followers to GoFundMe campaign.”
  • Time-based. Goals bound by specific timeframes are easier to track and attain. Rather than a vague “this year”, try, “Increase donations by 1-2 percent each month in 2019 by driving online audiences to GoFundMe campaign, with year-end goal of increasing overall donations by 10 percent.”

Still with me? Great! In my next post, I’ll discuss how to choose the best social media channels for your advocacy outreach.

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Hildy Silverman is the Manager of Digital Online Marketing for Oticon Medical US. She has nearly 30 years of experience in corporate training, traditional and online marketing, and professional/technical communications for a wide array of industries, most recently at a global hearing aid manufacturer.

Using Social Media to Support Hearing Health Advocacy_1

Part 1 of 5

Everyone here at Oticon Medical is so impressed by the advocacy efforts we see online in support of the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Whether the focus is on raising awareness of related health conditions or the benefits of bone-anchored hearing systems, social media has made sharing information and events easy, immediate, and far-reaching. But how do you develop an effective social media presence and then track whether it is helping you attain your goals as an advocate?

Over the next few weeks, I’d like to provide you with tips to help you define (or refine) an effective social media strategy in support of your generous efforts. Let’s begin at the beginning — establishing your online presence.

Set yourself up for success

Before you do anything else, think about what you can offer an online audience with your advocacy.  For example, do you have personal experience with a specific health condition?

Let’s say your cause is single-sided deafness (SSD) — perhaps you have it yourself or have a child who does. Maybe you are an audiologist or lobby on behalf of those with SSD. Whatever personal and/or professional experience you have to offer, evaluate how to best express your knowledge and expertise in your social media profile so visitors to your online property will feel confident that you know what you’re talking about.

Will going online enhance your “live” efforts?

In parallel, consider why you want to take your efforts online. Developing and maintaining an effective online presence will take significant time and effort, so you want to make it worth your while. Ask yourself what you hope to accomplish that you can’t achieve through your real-world efforts alone.

Continuing to use SSD as our example cause, here are some things you want to consider:

  • Will you significantly increase your ability to reach your target audience (e.g., affected communities, other advocates) by moving some of your efforts online?
  • Will social media shares and promotion increase the general public’s awareness of the impact of SSD and understanding of those living with it?
  • Might online platforms help you raise more money for SSD research or donations in support of people who don’t have insurance coverage and can’t afford a BAHS?
  • Will promoting events like marches, meet-ups, and similar activities online improve your ability to organize them, and increase attendance beyond what you’ve experienced using traditional mailings, flyers, and word-of-mouth alone?

If the answer to one or more of these is “yes” then it’s time to move forward with establishing your online presence. In the next post in this series, I’ll guide you through how to establish “S.M.A.R.T.” goals for your social media campaigns.

Questions? Please ask yours in the comments!

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Hildy Silverman is the Manager of Digital Online Marketing for Oticon Medical US. She has nearly 30 years of experience in corporate training, traditional and online marketing, and professional/technical communications for a wide array of industries, most recently at a global hearing aid manufacturer.

How important is it that Ponto helps wearers remember more?

A recent study has provided evidence that the Ponto(BAHS) sound processing allows wearers to learn faster[1], remember more[2], and use less listening effort[3]. In this post, we’re going to focus on the benefits of remembering more.

Evidence indicates Oticon Medical BAHS support memory

First, a review of the study and its results with regards to memory: Professor Thomas Lunner and Oticon Medical partnered to assess how the Ponto system might support memory function. 16 adults in their late fifties with conductive or mixed hearing loss were tested while wearing two Pontos: one optimally fitted on softband and one on abutment. The subjects were tested with one Ponto at the time, in random order. After listening to seven sentences, they were asked to recall as many last words of the sentences as possible The subjects could remember 46 percent of the last words with the Ponto fitted on softband. However, when they wore Ponto attached to their abutments, they remembered 52 percent of the words correct. This means wearers experienced a 13 percent relative improvement in ability to remember words with direct sound transmission versus skin transmission.

The impact of hearing loss on memory

A separate study[4] found that 56 percent of participants evaluated for memory and cognitive concerns, as well as potential brain disorders like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, had some form of hearing loss ranging from mild to severe, and about 36 percent of them had not received treatment for their hearing loss. Additional studies have concluded that untreated hearing loss is a significant risk factor in the development of memory and thinking disorders[5] [6]. However, it’s also a contributor that you can affect by treating your hearing difficulties – and the sooner, the better.

What it all means to you

Researchers have multiple theories as to why hearing affects memory, including that when fewer mental resources are needed to process incoming sound signals, more can be devoted to remembering. Also, when you can hear better, you’re likelier to continue actively engaging in social situations like going out to restaurants with friends or attending family gatherings. Regular social interaction stimulates your brain and supports emotional health, both of which are vital to preventing isolation and depression – both of which are known contributors to the development of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease[7].

Evidence strongly indicates that a Ponto system offers wearers more than the ability to hear better. When worn implanted on an abutment, these powerful BAHS can significantly improve your ability to remember.

Ready to try your first Ponto BAHS or upgrade to our latest model? Click below to get in touch with an audiologist in your area who can help you choose the best option for your hearing needs.

Find a clinic

Click the button if you want to learn more about our Ponto bone anchored hearing systems or arrange a trial.

 

[1]  Pittman, A. L. (2019) Bone conduction amplification in children: Stimulation via a percutaneous abutment vs. a transcutaneous softband. Ear Hear.  

[2] Lunner, T., Rudner, M., Rosenbom, T., Ågren, J., and Ng, E.H.N. (2016) Using Speech Recall in Hearing Aid Fitting and Outcome Evaluation Under Ecological Test Conditions. Ear Hear 37 Suppl 1: 145S-154S.

[3] Bianchi, F., Wendt, D., Wassard, C., Maas, P., Lunner, T., Rosenbom, T., and Holmberg, M. (2019) Benefit of higher maximum force output on listening effort in bone-anchored hearing system users: a pupillometry study. Ear Hear.

[4] Kate Dupuis et al, Considering Age-Related Hearing Loss in Neuropsychological Practice: Findings from a Feasibility Study, Canadian Journal on Aging / La Revue canadienne du vieillissement (2018). DOI: 10.1017/S0714980818000557.

[5] Lin, F.R., Metter, J.E., O’Brien, R., Resnick, S.M., Zonderman, A.B., & Ferrucci, L (2011). Hearing loss and incident dementia. Archives of Neurology, 68(2), 214-220.

[6] Lin, F.R., Yaffe, K., Xia, J., Xue, Q-L., Harris, T.B., Purchase-Helzner, E., Satterfield, S., Ayonayon, H.N., Ferrucci, L., & Simonsick, E.M. (2013). Hearing loss and cognitive decline in older adults. JAMA Internal Medicine, 173(4), 293-299.

[7] Herbert, Joe M.B., Ph.D. (2016) Depression is a Risk for Alzheimer’s: We Need to Know Why. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hormones-and-the-brain/201604/depression-is-risk-alzheimer-s-we-need-know-why