Category Archives: Product Information

You Asked, We Answered

In this week’s post, we’ve collected some of the direct inquiries received from wearers and parents/caregivers to wearers over the past year. We hope some of our responses answer questions you might also have about Oticon Medical and our Ponto™ bone anchored hearing devices. However, if you have a question about our products and services, please feel free to post it in the Comments and we’ll be happy to get you the answers you need!

Questions on Ponto bone anchored hearing devices

Q: Hi! I have hearing loss on the left side, but my right is slowly catching up. I am in the process of getting a Ponto 4 for my left side but am wondering about the right side in the future. Would the Ponto 4 work as a bilateral hearing aid device (as in: could I have a Ponto implant on either side of my head?)

A: You can absolutely use Ponto 4 as a bilateral fitting — we have several wearers who wear one on either side.

Q: What is the life of a bone anchored hearing system?

A: The Ponto “lifespan” differs depending on several factors — the model, the care taken of it by the user, etc., so we can’t really provide a set answer. However, I think it’s safe to say that the average time a user keeps their Ponto is 3-5 years before they decide to upgrade to a newer model.

Q: My son got his new device yesterday. My family is so worried about the looks of the band and him getting bullied at school.

A: If you are concerned about bullying, we suggest you and your son meet with his primary teacher and arrange for him to explain what his device is to the class. We have had other parents give little presentations on their Pontos, and when the other kids learn how cool the technology is, they are more likely to be impressed and less likely to tease. We would even be happy to send you materials to give out if you’d like to make it a slightly more “official” session. Feel free to think it over and let us know.

Q: Does hair dye hurt the implant?

A: Hair dye will not hurt the implant. However, you might want to give the abutment a wipe just to remove any possible discoloration.

Q: What is the fitting range of a Ponto 4 for conductive mixed hearing loss?

A: The fitting range is up to and including an average of 45 decibels (dB) hearing loss.

Questions on Ponto accessories and compatibility

Q: Can the Ponto 4 connect to Roger™ devices — Roger Pen or Roger MyLink? If not, what DM systems are compatible? Thanks!

A: The Ponto 4 is now compatible with FM systems and Roger devices through use of the Oticon EduMic™, which is compatible with regular air-conduction Oticon hearing aids and Ponto 4. Alternately, the Ponto 4 also comes with a ConnectClip™ accessory that allows for direct audio streaming from the teacher’s mic into the student’s Ponto bone anchored device. You can read more about it through this link: https://www.oticonmedical.com/us/bone-conduction/solutions/accessories.

Q: How do I go about getting more batteries for my child’s Pontos?

A: You have a few choices for batteries. You might be able to find hearing aid batteries that fit from a local pharmacy or grocery store if you know the size you need, and they are in stock. You can also get them from the clinic or audiology professional from whom you got the Pontos, or you can order them from us directly by calling Customer Service at 1-888-277-8014 (M-F 8:00am – 7:00pm EST) or by email at info@oticonmedicalusa.com.

Questions on insurance coverage and upgrades

Q: My insurance denied my request for coverage and I’m appealing. Can you sell Ponto 4 to me directly?

A: We’re sorry you’re struggling with the insurance company. Yes, we can sell our devices to you directly. If you need any assistance with your appeal, please let us know and our Reimbursement Support Team can help you out with that as well. Please feel free to contact them at reimbursement@oticonmedical.com or call 1-855-400-9761.

Q: I have the Ponto Plus Power and would like to know how I can get an upgrade? Would Medicare cover it?

A: Oticon Medical is an accredited Durable Medical Equipment (DME) provider for Medicare. If you qualify for the proper Medicare coverage, Oticon Medical can bill Medicare directly on your behalf. Please contact one of our Reimbursement Support Specialists for further details regarding Medicare and Ponto processor replacements.

Ready to get your first Ponto device? Click here to find a clinic near you!

Have an older model processor? Click here to upgrade your Ponto!

Why You Should Consider Implantation if You Use a Softband – Part 1

We are pleased to be able to offer options for people with hearing loss to benefit from our Ponto™ processors at all ages and with differing health conditions. Our processor can be worn on a hard headband, attached to a hat, or on a softband – the latter of which is particular popular with our juvenile wearers. However, the Ponto was developed as part of a complete bone anchored hearing system, meaning wearers will experience peak performance when it is attached via an abutment directly to their skull. And while children under five aren’t candidates for the implant surgery due to their developing skulls, we encourage all adults and parents of kids over five whose physical conditions don’t preclude the surgery to seriously consider implantation. Here’s why.

The MIPS procedure

The surgical method Oticon Medical uses is called MIPS (minimally invasive Ponto surgery). This procedure involves having a small titanium implant carefully inserted into the bone behind your ear. The operation can be performed under local anesthetic, and in most cases, it takes no more than a day or two to recover. Many older children and most adults can undergo MIPS successfully, unless they have a condition that affects skin or bone thickness. A consultation with a surgeon can help you determine whether you or your child is a qualified candidate.

It’s typical for people to have concerns about surgery of any kind, including the comparatively minor MIPS procedure. For example, you might have concerns about your post-surgical appearance. The good news is that MIPS was designed to create the smallest incision possible. The surgeon makes a circular incision that matches the abutment exactly using instruments specifically designed for the procedure. This leaves the skin around the incision intact, with no skin tissue or hair follicles removed from around the abutment – hence no bald spots. MIPS also removes the need for suturing, which eliminates scarring and fosters quicker healing.

Another concern might be the surgery itself – especially the use of general anesthesia, which always carries some level of risk. MIPS only takes about 15 minutes and is normally carried out under local anesthetic. And as for recovery, since the process preserves soft tissue the blood supply, micro-circulation, and nerves are left as intact as possible, thereby shortening the healing period. Most patients can return to work or school within a couple of days.

Why choose bone anchored surgery over softband?

Affixing the Ponto processor to a softband provides young children with early access to speech and sounds so they can explore and interact with the hearing world with greater ease. It also gives them a great foundation for speech development. It is a suitable solution for children with conductive or mixed hearing loss, or single-sided deafness. It can also be used by adults with these conditions who cannot benefit from conventional hearing aids or who have temporary ear problems, such as blockages or infections.

Because the adjustable softband is simply worn around the head, some wearers prefer it to having to go through any form of surgery. And it certainly works — when you attach the Ponto sound processor, it sends sound waves through the bone to the inner ear, giving the wearer access to our renowned, high quality Ponto sound. Wearing a Ponto on a softband is a valuable method of hearing rehabilitation for children too young for implantation and for adults receiving a preoperative assessment.

However, studies confirm that implantation of a bone anchored hearing device – also known as a percutaneous solution – provides the ultimate hearing improvement over wearing a processor on a softband. Hearing sensitivity through the skin with a softband, as compared to a skin-penetrating abutment, provides between eight and 20 decibels (dB) reduction in the frequency range from one to four kHz. In plain English, wearers hear better when their processor is worn on an abutment than when it is worn on a softband.

One concern is that when vibrations have to pass through the skin without an abutment, the static pressure between the softband and the skin must be high to provide the best transmission possible. The ideal requirement often causes discomfort and can result in problems in the skin and subcutaneous tissues between the processor and the bone, especially if used long-term. It can also trigger tension headaches.

Other challenges include attenuation and feedback. Attenuation refers to a reduction in sound amplification, which can affect speech understanding. Feedback, or the return of a portion of an outbound signal to the same device creating a distorted effect, occurs when sound radiates from the processor back to the microphone.

Other complaints about softbands include cosmetic appeal, and slippage that causes the processor to move out of its ideal placement. If these and the aforementioned discomforts persist, the user is less likely to wear their processor all day long, reducing the efficacy of the device. After all, you can only fully benefit from the better hearing provided by the processor if it is worn steadily – and this is particularly important for children who are still acquiring language.

In our next post on this subject, we’ll share two user experiences about upgrading from wearing processors on softbands to having MIPS and hearing with an implant.

Michael Brown’s Advice: Don’t Hesitate – Get that Ponto Now

We’re please to share a brand-new user story from Canadian advocate Michael Brown. He advises others with hearing loss to overcome their hesitation to undergo minimally-invasive Ponto surgery (MIPS) based on his experience living with untreated hearing loss for 35 years.

“The Ponto 4 is a close to natural hearing that I’ve ever come across,”  In this segment, Michael shares his thoughts on the Ponto 4, which he upgraded to earlier this year.

Is MIPS right for you or your loved one? How about the Ponto 4? Start here to learn all about Ponto and the MIPS procedure.

Nancy Smith Oberman on upgrading to Ponto 4

Part 2 of 2

As we shared in Part 1 of Nancy Smith Oberman’s upgrade story, she had her concerns about moving to a bilateral Ponto 4 bone anchored hearing system from her Ponto 3 SuperPowers. The following post traces her journey from deciding to upgrade through her life with Ponto 4, which she originally shared via a series of Facebook posts.*

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Decision made – Nancy chooses Ponto 4

Steel Gray Ponto 4

I authorized my audiologist to order my right, steel-gray Ponto 4, and will order the left in January. I’m still absolutely amazed by how well the Ponto 4s work for me. I’m very lucky that I’ve been able to trial them in just about every situation I experience on a daily basis. I was not very positive they would work for me, but as I tell people all the time — louder does not equal good hearing.

I think the thing I’m most impressed with is the fact that I can hear behind me, at least when someone is speaking to me. I don’t necessarily have to face the speaker, which has been a blessing. I’m also quite surprised I don’t get feedback, because I’m pretty sure they are set at the ceiling. Sometimes I will turn them up a tad — my left cochlea is not as good as the right, which is why I’ve always boosted the Pontos with a traditional hearing aid, which gives me the needed extra amplification on the left.

I love that I can control my settings with my Apple® watch! With Ponto 4, I’m experiencing sound that seems even more natural and with less vibration, if that makes sense.

I’m just as happy as I can be… as are my staff!  I find that only I can hear what I’m listening to now and so am enjoying taking my phone calls via Bluetooth® anywhere. Who would have thought?

Follow-up after getting Ponto 4 confirms better hearing

Audiogram

Just left my audiologist’s office to pick up one new Ponto (second will be procured in January). As I’m getting ready this morning, he shoots me an email reminding me to bring my SuperPowers to the appointment. He wants to test me with both, to compare. Actually, I was looking forward to doing just that; cannot deny I’ve had a twinge or two over the last month, thinking I may very well have convinced myself the Ponto 4 was better because it was newer and had that direct connect Bluetooth.

We go into the sound booth and start with the Ponto 4s. After the tone thing, he does the speech recognition, where I have to repeat sentences that are spoken with increasing background noise and voices. I thought I did okay, so great! Next, we move to the SuperPowers. No change in program; exactly what I’d used for the last two-and-a-half years. What did I think? Yep, the SuperPowers were going to work better than the 4s, which were much quieter… sigh.

When we finished, my audiologist was grinning. “Well,” I asked, “was I wrong in thinking I heard better with the 4s… kinda bummed?”

“Nope,” he said. “You actually understood speech better with the 4s!” With 1-3 being normal speech recognition (1 being better than 3), I hit at 1.6 with the Ponto 4s. With the Ponto3 SuperPowers, I hit at 2.8. Yay, I was correct — I really do hear better with the 4s!

Advice to Ponto wearers considering an upgrade

My advice to others considering whether to upgrade to a Ponto 4 from their SuperPower device is that you have got to give a trial more than five minutes, or even five hours or an entire day! I sat in a noisy restaurant with friends the other day and didn’t miss any of the conversation even with all the clanking of dishes, crying children, other conversations, etc. While you might not experience a big “a-ha” moment of noticeable hearing improvement, don’t be discouraged. The changes are so subtle (which I think is awesome, actually) that it may take your brain a day or two to catch up to the marked improvement. This is as close to normal hearing as I can remember all those years ago, before the onset of my hearing loss.

I think Oticon Medical has hit this out of the park!

Find a clinic

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

*NOTE: Originally shared via a series of Facebook posts with permission.

Nancy Smith Oberman on upgrading to Ponto 4

Part 1 of 2

Nancy Smith Oberman had her concerns about upgrading to a bilateral Ponto™ 4 bone anchored hearing system from her Ponto 3 SuperPowers. After all, her SuperPower devices worked great, plus with her profound level of hearing loss, she was doubtful that a non-SP device could help her hear as well as she needed. The following traces her journey from curious but cautious to official Ponto 4 convert.*

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To upgrade or not to upgrade? That was my question

So, unfortunately, I have to add a hearing aid back into the mix. Not sure what’s going on — my hearing hasn’t changed much from my last audiogram even though it’s a little worse, but not enough (at least so my audiologist says) to make a big difference. I’m surmising my brain is getting older and I’m getting crankier, and just a little more tired of working so damn hard to hear people who refuse to speak up. Wonder how everything will work when Ponto 4 Super-Powers (when they  come out) are added. Gotta love technology!
I want to trial the Ponto 4 and am trying to get the Ponto 4 demo now. I’m kind of afraid that my hearing loss is too great for non-SuperPower devices, but my audiologist knows I’ll only be satisfied once I am certain one way or another.

First step: trialing Ponto 4

I’m scheduled to get bilateral Ponto 4s programmed for trial Wednesday. In the meantime, I love teaching people! I’m working with the company that set up our phone system to come up with a solution to resolve my difficulty with phone usage. I had quite the conversation explaining the bone anchored hearing system and the Bluetooth® direct connection capabilities of the new Ponto 4. The person I spoke to was fascinated, to say the least! I consider it a win-win: I’ve educated more people about hearing loss and the technology to aid those of us who have it, plus I resolved my phone issue.

My Ponto 4 trial experience

I picked up two Ponto 4s Wednesday for trial. First off, I am amazed at how well they pick up speech, even for someone who has as great a loss as mine (I’m programmed to the ceiling with my Ponto 3 SuperPower devices). There is definitely a noticeable difference between the two sound platforms, with the (Oticon Opn™) open platform seriously a marked improvement.
Surprisingly, since these are programmed to the ceiling, I’ve had no feedback to speak of. Besides clearer, crisper speech, I hear as well as I do with the SuperPower, which I currently wear along with a regular hearing aid. I’ve played a little with wearing them without my hearing aid, and found that I still have the clear speech, but can’t hear much of anything else (e.g., background noise), which gives me a feeling that my ears are stopped up. Didn’t go a long time, since I was at work teaching, and was a tad nervous I would struggle hearing my students. But the few conversations I had with my coworkers outside the classroom were normal. I didn’t struggle to hear them even with students milling about or being loud while on the mats.
Hopefully, I’ll be braver next week and teach the whole day with just the bilateral Ponto 4 and without my hearing aid. Got to give them enough time to really test their performance.

Pleasantly surprised by Ponto 4

The Ponto 4s are so small and lightweight that it feels as if they aren’t even attached. I do miss the ability to mute from the processor itself but using the Oticon ON™ app is no different than using the app with my hearing aid. The direct Bluetooth is absolutely wonderful, except I can only use it in private. As with the streamer, everyone else around me can hear sounds traveling through the processors. At least my coworkers are used to me being in my office with my door closed.
I will be trialing the Ponto 4s for at least a month, so I can test them in all aspects of my life and hearing situations. So far, even though there was no initial “ah-ha” moment like I experienced with the Ponto 3 SuperPower, I am certainly impressed! I sure thought they wouldn’t work for me. I teach adults hands-on activities as well as in classrooms, and it’s quite busy and loud. Surprisingly, Ponto 4 seems to have a marked ability to mute that noise when I’m engaged in conversation.

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Will Nancy decide to take the plunge and upgrade to Ponto 4? Find out in our next post!

Find a clinic

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

*NOTE: Originally shared via a series of Facebook posts with permission.

Initial thoughts on the Ponto 4 – Oticon Medical has done it again!

Sandi Arcus is a Dispensing Audiologist in Nevada. Born with single-sided deafness (SSD), she as always had a passion for helping others who are hard of hearing. She started her career in Pennsylvania as an audiologist in a busy ENT office, then in private practice. She currently works at an audiology clinic in Henderson, NV. Sandi holds a Master of Science degree in Audiology from Bloomsburg University, is a Fellow with the American Academy of Audiology, and holds a Certificate of Clinical Competency from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association.

As both an expert in hearing health and someone with first-hand experience in hearing loss, Sandi kindly offered to share her initial thoughts (and a couple of homemade videos) from her trial of Oticon Medical’s Ponto 4 bone anchored hearing system (BAHS).

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I did the initial setup myself, because I’m really picky and odd about my programming. My first impression was that the Ponto 4 sounded the closest to my normal hearing ear as any other hearing aid or BAHS has come close to. I was impressed but not surprised — if Oticon Medical releases a new processor, I know it won’t be good… it will be great!

Streaming phone calls and music with ease

I placed a call while streaming to the Ponto 4 and the person on the receiving end was impressed with the clarity. On my side, I was able to hear the speaker without issues. Streaming music was pretty impressive as well. It wasn’t tinny or hollow-sounding.

Ponto 4 passes the wind and noise test

I like to “beat up” my processor — push it to the limits — so I next planned to be a passenger in my car (Ponto side toward driver) with the windows down and music on. I don’t typically have the windows down when driving because I can’t hear (and it messes up my hair) so I knew this would really allow me to test the Ponto 4 out.

 

These videos don’t quite do it justice. I had the air conditioning blasting and the radio on pretty loud. My daughter and husband said they couldn’t hear each other or me, but I heard them.

Kudos Oticon Medical — you did it again!

I could never have heard either my husband or daughter in that noisy car without the Ponto 4. Knowing how OPN™ technology works helped me figure out the biggest difference: I still knew the noise was there. It wasn’t distorted. There wasn’t a sudden mic change that was audible. However, my brain knew that speech was what I needed to hear. Speech stood out naturally without strain and without compromise.

My one word for Ponto 4? Awesome!

Click here to learn more about the Ponto 4 from Oticon Medical.

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

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

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 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.

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] 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 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.