Tag Archives: bone anchored hearing

Ear Community goes to Washington with Ponto SuperPowers

Advocacy Day 2019

On February 26, Ear Community was invited to be a part of the 2019 Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill.  This annual event invites advocates on behalf of dental, oral, and craniofacial research to speak directly with federal policymakers about how insurance coverage and research funding would improve the lives of those living with these conditions.

Organizer Melissa Tumblin founded Ear Community and has a daughter, Ally, with Microtia and Atresia who wears a bone-anchored hearing system (BAHS). Melissa was able to arrange the meetings with House and Senate representatives because she sits on the Patient Advocacy Council for the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR).

Melissa and Ally were accompanied by eight other Ear Community families, including one medical doctor, to Washington, D.C. representing the states of Washington, Colorado, Tennessee, Maryland, and Virginia.

Lobbying on behalf of families living with hearing loss and related conditions

On Monday, February 25, Melissa met with directors from the National Institute of Health representing the NIDCR, American Association for Dental Research (AADR), and International Association for Dental Research (IADR) to discuss collaborative efforts regarding children and adults affected by craniofacial challenges due to Microtia and Atresia and Goldenhar Syndrome.

The next day, the Ear Community families met with the following representatives and staff members on Capitol Hill:

  • Staff members for Senator Lamar Alexander’s (R-TN) office
  • Legislative staff members for Congressman Joe Neguse’s (D-CO), Senator Cory Gardner’s (R-CO), and Michael Bennet’s (D-CO) offices.
  • Legislative staff members for Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and office staff for Congressman John Sarbanes’ (D-MD) and Senator Ben Cardin’s (D-MD).
  • Legislative staff and the press secretary for Congressman Denny Heck’s (D-WA) office and an Appropriations representative for the NIH staff for Senator Patty Murray’s (D-WA) office.
  • Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), and legislative staff members for Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) and Congressman Ben Cline (R-VA). Sen. Kaine was celebrating his birthday and signed a little girl with Microtia and Atresia named Mazie’s cast. Both Sen. Kaine and Rep. Spanberger tweeted about the Ear Community visit.

Sen. Mark Werner and Ear Community FamiliesRep. Spanberger with members of Ear Community

Melissa also scheduled phone meetings with Congressman David McKinley (R-WV) and Congressman Michael Thompson (D-CA), as they both serve as co-chairs of the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus. Rep. McKinley is a cochlear implant user, and his grandson wears a bone-anchored hearing aid.

Each family left behind a detailed packet of information with the story of the Ear Community organization, an explanation about the need to wear bone-anchored hearing systems, and a sample of anaudiogram along with other helpful facts and figures. Each family explained to legislators and their staff that a bone-anchored device is their only option, because they don’t have the same hearing challenges that qualify others to wear cochlear implants or benefit from traditional hearing aids. Therefore, wearers need lawmakers to work toward mandating bone-conduction hearing device coverage by insurers nationwide. Otherwise, insurance companies are effectively discriminating against thousands of children and adults with hearing loss by not covering these medical devices.

A Stranger Things star gives back

Gaten Matarazzo poses with Ear Community kids for Advocacy Day 2019.

The Ear Community families also received an exciting treat: thanks to the NIDCR and AADR, they were given the opportunity to meet actor Gaten Matarazzo from the hit TV show Stranger Things! He was part of the Advocacy Day non-profit organization lobbying to bring awareness to Cleidocranial dysplasia (CCD), a rare genetic mutation affecting the growth and development of teeth and bones.

Melissa expressed her appreciation to Oticon Medical for lending her two Ponto 3 SuperPower BAHS on soft bands. During her visits, representatives tried on the Pontos and listened to her talk during their meetings, so they could experience for themselves what it’s like to hear through bone-anchored devices.

#

Ear Community hosts a series of picnics where Microtia and Atresia families can learn more about Oticon Medical’s Ponto 3 SuperPower. Please click through this link for the 2019 picnic schedule.

Ready to try your first Ponto BAHS or upgrade to our latest Ponto 3 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.

Help Finding A Local Audiologist

Learning Faster: Why It Matters

In our previous blog post, we discussed BrainHearing™ — the term we at Oticon Medical use when referring to how the vital elements of hearing (processing and comprehension) occur in the brain. We also reviewed the evidence showing how our Ponto™ system supports sound processing that enables wearers to learn faster[1], remember more[2], and experience less listening effort[3]. In this post we’re going to delve deeper into how our bone-anchored hearing system (BAHS) helps wearers, especially children, learn faster and why that is important to their development.

The study and its results summed up

To review, Professor Andrea Pittman studied 17 preteen children, 16 of whom have conductive hearing loss and one with single-sided deafness (SSD) The children wore two Ponto Power at a time: one optimally fitted on a softband and one on an abutment. The children had to learn six new words and Dr. Pittman counted the number of repetitions it took to do so. The children performed the learning task twice (with different words), where only one sound processor was activated at a time in a randomized, single-blind manner (i.e., the subjects didn’t know which sound processor was active).

While the kids required approximately 166 trials to learn the words when wearing their Pontos affixed by softbands, they only needed 60 trials when wearing the devices attached to abutments — a 2.5 times increase in learning speed.

Faster learning supports better education and social development

When it comes to education and social development, language acquisition plays a significant role. To learn how to speak, read, and write on pace with their hearing peers, hard-of-hearing children need the best available assistance to improve their hearing ability as early in their lives as possible.

Babies and toddlers initially acquire language by hearing their parents speak. Their linguistic comprehension increases exponentially as they grow and interact more with other adults and peers especially once they start school. During the critical school age years, kids who cannot hear clearly often struggle to increase their vocabulary because it is hard to process and understand spoken language[4].

Consider this: even children with perfect hearing have difficulty paying attention in school. They often are expected to absorb lessons while straining to hear over background chatter, sitting far away from the teacher, and poor classroom acoustics. Now imagine trying to learn despite all this and having a significant hearing loss. It’s no surprise hard-of-hearing children[5] often return home from school feeling frustrated, exhausted, and overwhelmed.

Difficulty to learn at the same rate as others can also lead to youngsters falling behind or even in being held back a grade[6]. For kids who may already feel isolated by their hearing loss, this further separation from same-age peers can significantly impede their social development.

With all this in mind, it’s no surprise that many of these children develop a negative attitude toward school. Many doubt their own learning capabilities and struggle to fit in socially. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Helping kids with hearing loss succeed

By utilizing a Ponto as early in life as possible, your child can experience the regular stimulation of incoming sound needed to help the brain as much as possible. When worn implanted on an abutment, this powerful BAHS may help keep children learning at a rate closer to that of their natural hearing peers.

Are you ready to try a Ponto for the first time or upgrade to our latest Ponto 3 model? Click below to get in touch with an audiologist in your area who can help you choose the best option for you or your child’s hearing needs.

Learn More

[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] Committee on the Evaluation of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Disability Program for Children with Speech Disorders and Language Disorders; Board on the Health of Select Populations; Board on Children, Youth, and Families; Institute of Medicine; Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education; National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Rosenbaum S, Simon P, editors. Speech and Language Disorders in Children: Implications for the Social Security Administration’s Supplemental Security Income Program. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2016 Apr 6. 2, Childhood Speech and Language Disorders in the General U.S. Population. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK356270/
[5] Colquitt JL, Jones J, Harris P, et al. Bone-Anchored Hearing Aids (BAHAs) for People who are Bilaterally Deaf: A Systematic Review and Economic Evaluation. Southampton (UK): NIHR Journals Library; 2011 Jul. (Health Technology Assessment, No. 15.26.) 1, Aim and background. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK99649/
[6] Cooke, Gary, & Stammer, John. (1985). Grade retention and social promotion. CHILDHOOD EDUCATION, 61 (4), 302-308. EJ 315 804

Ponto helps wearers! Learn faster. Remember more. Reduce listening effort.

By now you’re likely familiar with BrainHearing™, our guiding principal when it comes to developing our hearing systems. Simply put, it is an acknowledgement that the most vital hearing processes, including speech comprehension and understanding, occurs in the brain, not ears. Therefore, effective hearing systems need to make it as easy as possible for your brain to make sense of incoming sounds, not just pick up and amplify them. Our Ponto™ bone-anchored hearing systems (BAHS) support better sound processing that enables wearers to learn faster[1], remember more[2], and expend less listening effort[3] — and we have the evidence to prove it.

Learn faster with Ponto

Principal investigator Professor Andrea Pittman of Arizona State University studied 17 preteen children, 16 of whom had conductive hearing loss and one with single-sided deafness (SSD). She initially tested the children with the Ponto Power fitted on softbands. Prof. Pittman had the children listen to and learn six new made-up words and assessed the number of repetitions required before each child learned the words. Then she repeated the test, only this time with the Ponto Power affixed to the children’s abutments. The results were significant — it took the children approximately 166 trials to learn the words when sounds were transmitted through the skin via the softband yet only 60 trials when sounds were transmitted directly through the attached devices. That’s an impressive 2.5 times increase in learning speed!  

Ponto helps wearers remember more

Professor Thomas Lunner worked with Oticon Medical at the Ericksholm Research Center in Denmark to assess how Ponto aids in improving memory. Participants in the study included 16 adults in their late fifties with conductive or mixed hearing loss. Again, the subjects were first tested wearing their Pontos on softbands only. Their assigned task was to recall seven words after listening to sentences including each word individually. The results showed the subjects remembered the words at a rate of approximately 46 percent. However, when they wore their Pontos on their abutments and were tested again, that number rose to a significant 52 percent. This means wearers experienced a 13 percent relative improvement in ability to recall with direct sound transmission vs. skin transmission — likely because fewer mental resources were needed to process the signal, and so more can be devoted to memory.  

Reduce listening effort with Ponto 3 SuperPower

The principal investigator in this study was Oticon Medical, working out of our Global headquarters in Denmark. Participants consisted of 21 adults in their late 50s with conductive or mixed hearing loss. They were tested using three different processors with different maximum outputs: Ponto Pro, Ponto 3, and Ponto 3 SuperPower. Participants were tasked with listening to and repeating sentences heard through background noise, while an eye-tracking camera monitored their pupil dilation, an established measurement of listening effort wherein the pupil dilates in direct relation to the amount of listening effort expended. Our researchers compared the performance of the subjects using each device and noted a sizeable decrease in listening effort and retention with use of the Ponto 3 SuperPower as indicated by reduced pupil dilation as compared to the Ponto Pro and the regular Ponto 3. This supports the idea that higher power hearing systems allows wearers to comprehend speech with significantly less effort.  

What it all means to you

The evidence is in that direct sound transmission through a Ponto system with a higher maximum output offers far more than the ability to hear better. When worn implanted on an abutment, these powerful BAHS let you learn 2.5 times faster — especially important for school-age wearers. They improve ability to remember by 13 percent, which offers an advantage to older wearers who might have memory concerns in general. And they require wearers to expend less listening effort to keep up with conversations, reducing the fatigue associated with difficulty straining to hear and understand speech daily. Ready to try your first Ponto BAHS or upgrade to our latest Ponto 3 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.

Learn More

 

[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.

 

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.

“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.

Learn More

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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:

Learn More

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. 

Learn More

Powerful sound: How the Ponto 3 SuperPower is making a difference for these Ponto families

This past October, we sat down with parents of children who use the Ponto bone anchored hearing system and asked them about three important aspects of the bone anchored hearing experience – the power of choice, discovering the difference, and powerful sound.

Powerful sound

The Ponto 3 SuperPower gives premium sound quality, as well as helps reduce the effort spent on listening. Loud sounds remain loud but not distorted, and softer sounds are audible.

When there are conversations and background noise, your brain has to work harder to make sense of the sounds it hears, which can leave you or your child feeling drained.The Ponto 3 SuperPower helps reduce the extra listening effort the brain expends to compensate for a hearing loss, freeing up mental energy for more important things in life.

In the video below, these families share their experiences with the Ponto 3 SuperPower and how the sound quality has made a difference in their children’s lives.

 

Interested in learning more about the Ponto 3 SuperPower as a possible hearing solution for your child? Click below to be connected to an audiologist.

Learn More

Discover the difference: The importance of trying different bone anchored hearing devices and why these families chose Ponto

This past October, we sat down with parents of children who use the Ponto Bone Anchored Hearing System and asked them about three important aspects of the bone anchored hearing experience – the power of choice, discovering the difference, and powerful sound.

Try and discover the difference 

In the video below learn how important it is to demo different devices and how these parents discovered the difference with Ponto by doing so.

 

Interested in the Ponto 3 SuperPower as a possible hearing solution for your child? Click below to learn more.

Learn More

Powerful choice: Why these parents chose the Ponto 3 SuperPower for their children

This past October, we sat down with parents of children who use the Ponto Bone Anchored Hearing System and asked them about three important aspects of the bone anchored hearing experience – the power of choice, discovering the difference, and powerful sound.

Choice – you have options

There are options when it comes to bone anchored hearing, and these families have learned about their choices through online support groups such as this one and this one, research and advocacy. 

In the videos below, two families share their experiences of looking for the right hearing solution and choosing Ponto. We hope their stories empower you to find the solution that’s right for your child.

Interested in the Ponto 3 SuperPower as a possible hearing solution for your child? Click below to learn more.

Learn More