Tag Archives: Ponto for children

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

The Ponto 3 SuperPower spurs a 180 degree change for Amelia

Allison and Amelia

Allison Richardson’s three-year-old daughter, Amelia, was born with Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder and has severe-profound unilateral hearing loss. At the time of Amelia’s diagnosis, family members and doctors advised her not to worry. But with three of Amelia’s older brothers diagnosed with Apraxia, a speech sound disorder, Allison knew the importance speech and hearing was to development.

While pregnant in 2009 with one of her sons, Allison began joining groups on Facebook for parents. She found these to be supportive networks where she could turn to for help and develop friendships. Once Amelia was born, she set out to find a Facebook group for parents of children with hearing loss, which is where she found the “BAHA Kids Club” Facebook group.

After learning about bone-anchored hearing systems (BAHS) and doing her own research, Allison brought Amelia to her ENT’s office to inquire about a BAHS. After learning the pros and cons of different devices, the personal stories of parents online, and about feedback and Oticon Medical’s great customer service, they advocated for a year-and-a-half to secure a device for Amelia.

180 degree difference with Ponto

Life for Amelia changed after being fit with the Oticon Medical Ponto 3 SuperPower. “She went from being an unfocused child speaking no more than five words to a focused student and dancer who now talks more than anyone at home. Her five older brothers say that Amelia has a bionic ear,” Allison said.

Amelia currently attends preschool and sits in a classroom with special needs and non-special needs students. The mix, Allison noted, provides special needs kids with mentors, and teaches non-special needs kids acceptance.

Amelia Richardson

Advice for parents

Allison’s advice is simple when it comes to making a medical decision for your child: “Go with your gut and don’t compare kids”.

She continued, “Do what you think is best for your child, not what other people say is best, because you know your child.”

The journey to better hearing and finding the right hearing device for your child’s individual hearing loss can be long and sometimes feel like a never-ending waiting game. Continue to advocate for yourself and your child, reach out to online support groups, try all your options, and as Allison reminded us, “Don’t give up.”

Find a clinic

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

Becky Zingale shares how her daughter navigates Treacher Collins Syndrome and conductive hearing loss with her Ponto 3 through her blog

You might be familiar with the blog “The BAHA Mama”, a well-known resource for parents and families who have children with hearing loss and Treacher Collins Syndrome (TCS). The blog, which was created by Becky Zingale, follows her family’s journey of navigating TCS, hearing loss, speech therapy, sign language, and parenting.

Becky began writing around 10 years ago to document her travel experiences. Later, when she and her husband learned that their second daughter, Ariasha, had TCS, Becky focused her blog on sharing knowledge and personal stories with other parents.

“My husband is a marketing consultant and has empowered me to be a thought leader. I’m a great success story for what happens when you follow the advice of your marketing consultant (husband),” she says.

Ariasha, also known as “Little Lioness” and “PipSqueak”, was born with Treacher Collins Syndrome and microtia and atresia, just like her father Duane. She underwent cleft palate surgery in 2016 when she was sixteen months old, which is when they discovered her conductive hearing loss. Thinking Ariasha would follow in her father’s footsteps and wear the same bone anchored hearing device as him, she trialed his device first but experienced issues with feedback.

Through online Facebook groups focused on hearing loss like this one and this one, Becky discovered the Oticon Medical Ponto Bone Anchored Hearing System. All the information they received convinced her that Ponto was the right choice for her daughter.

They trialed the Ponto and Ariasha now wears bilateral Ponto 3’s on a softband. During the first few weeks of her wearing her Ponto, Becky noticed just how much it was making a difference in her ability to communicate.

“She had her Ponto for two weeks and I tried dropping her off at childcare. I thought the noise might be overwhelming so I decided she shouldn’t wear the Ponto, and she was really upset. It turned out that she had become so used to being able to hear for those two weeks, that she preferred dealing with a loud environment than not knowing what was going on. She has also become more social since getting her Ponto. Beforehand, when people would come over, she wanted to go to bed. We thought she was really introverted. But with her Ponto, now she wants to interact with people since she can distinguish sound, hear different voices, and has an idea of what’s going around her.”

As Ariasha continues her hearing loss journey, Becky documents everything they learn and answers common questions from parents online through informative blog posts and personal stories. One such post discussed a common question posed by parents – how to show a child to place their BAHS (Bone Anchored Hearing System) in a safe place to avoid it getting lost or broken.

“Sometimes Ariasha decides to change her clothing randomly in the middle of the day and her Ponto will end up in a pile of clothes. So, we created “Ariasha’s BAHS Box”, a safe place to put her Ponto. The other day she went upstairs to play and then came downstairs wearing a new outfit. ‘Where is your BAHS?’ I asked. She responded, in a very sassy teenager-ish tone, ‘In my BAHS box’.”

Learning about Bone Anchored Hearing Systems and advocating for Ariasha has definitely become a family affair. Ariasha’s sister Chloe, also known as “Monkey” or “Big Sis” on the blog, helps to check whether her sister’s Ponto needs new batteries and event sports matching headbands with her.

To parents trying to figure things out, Becky’s advice is to find a community. She says the online community has been very helpful with discussing things like speech therapy and how to get your child to keep their BAHS on their head.

“Hope is what the name Asha means. It’s my hope to inspire and encourage mamas in their journey to raise healthy, thriving families in spite of whatever challenges life brings.”

Find a clinic

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

The Ponto 3 SuperPower ignites a love for music for Talia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Find a clinic

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

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

Find a clinic

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

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

 

Find a clinic

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

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 here: User Stories

 

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.

 

Find a clinic

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

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.

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