Tag Archives: bone anchored hearing

Miss Lucy Brown — Still Tumbling with Ponto 4!

Our favorite Ponto 4-wearing gymnast, Lucy Brown, is able to hear clearly despite the hustle and bustle surrounding her. Check out her moves in this short video, provided courtesy of her proud mom, Georgene Brown:

Hearing in noise is one of the most difficult challenges people with hearing loss face. Whether its other people’s conversations, background music, or other ambient noise, the strain to hear what you actually want to listen to all day can be frustrating and exhausting. As a competitive gymnast, Lucy cannot afford to let either get in her way. Fortunately, thanks to her Ponto 4 bone anchored hearing system, she is able to focus on her coach’s important directions and executing her challenging gymnastic routines.

Go, Lucy Brown, indeed!

Managing Through Quarantine with Ponto

Annika enjoys hearing her TV shows… and Mom doesn’t have to!

Like so many other families in the United States, Shannon Sappington and her daughter, Annika, are dealing with the challenges posed by quarantine as best they can. Although many people with hearing loss like Annika face additional struggles, her Ponto bone anchored hearing device is actually helping both mother and daughter through this difficult time. They were kind enough to shoot this homemade video demonstrating how Annika’s Ponto and streaming accessories are making it easier to stay inside and in close quarters.

“I am proud of how willingly Annika let me record her connecting to her streamer and the TV!” said Shannon. “That is a godsend Oticon Medical invention…. letting her watch her favorite shows and saving my sanity by not have to keep listening to the same shows again and again!”

Are you a Ponto wearer who needs a TV adapter, audio streamer, or other accessory to make life during quarantine more bearable? Visit our Oticon Medical website to see what is available!

 

Ally’s Act Introduced in the Senate

We are excited to share good news about the progress of Ally’s Act provided courtesy of Melissa Tumblin. Melissa is a longtime Oticon Medical Ambassador and the founder and executive director of Ear Community, a nonprofit organization that helps children and adults born with Microtia and Aural Atresia. Melissa’s daughter, Ally Tumblin (for whom the Act is named) has Microtia and Atresia and wears a Ponto bone anchored hearing device.

Insurance coverage for bone anchored hearing devices and more

Ally’s Act (H.R. 5485) is a bipartisan national level bill that would ensure private insurance companies provide coverage for osseointegrated hearing devices (OIDs), including bone anchored hearing systems and cochlear implants. The Act, if it becomes law, will help ensure that private insurance providers cover these costs, including the hearing devices and their accessories, surgery and medical exams.

Currently, only about half of the states in the U.S. currently have legislation in place to cover hearing aids, and OIDs are not always included. Ally’s Act, as a federal bill, would require that children and adults needing bone anchored hearing devices or cochlear implants received coverage in every state through private insurers listed under the Affordable Health Care Act.

Ally’s Act has been endorsed by numerous high-profile hearing industry institutions, including the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the American Academy of Audiology, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and most recently the Hearing Industries Association.

Ally’s Act introduced into Congress

Ally Tumblin wrote to Congressman Joe Neguse (D-CO) in May of 2019 for Better Hearing and Speech Month and asked him to help her advocate to hear better. He responded to Ally in September of that year and acted soon after. Along with the co-chairs of the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus, Congressmen David McKinley (R-WV) and Mike Thompson (D-CA), Ally’s Act was introduced to the House Committee for Energy and Commerce with bipartisan support in December of 2019.

Companion bill mandating hearing device insurance coverage introduced to Senate

In promising news, the companion bill to Ally’s Act was introduced to the Senate on September 8, 2020. This bipartisan bill (S. 4532) was introduced by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.VA).

In response, Rep. Neguse issued the following public statement, “I am proud that Senator Warren and Senator Capito introduced the Senate companion to Ally’s Act. This bipartisan and bicameral legislation is critical for people like Ally Tumblin, who require osseointegrated-integrated hearing devices (OIDs), including bone anchored hearing aids and cochlear implants.

“It is a testament to Ally, her family and her advocates that this is now a nationally recognized need that will benefit so many Americans. We look forward to Ally’s Act passing both Chambers of Congress and ultimately being signed into law,” Rep. Neguse concluded.

Senator Warren issued the following statement regarding her support for Ally’s Act: “Far too many Americans are left behind due to hearing loss and cannot access the devices they need because their insurance will not cover it, leaving many adults and children in the US without a solution to restore their hearing. Our bipartisan bill is a simple fix that increases access to these specialized hearing devices and gives Americans across the country a chance to be a part of every conversation.”

Senator Capito agreed, adding, “Many of us take for granted the gift of hearing and how often we rely on our senses to effectively communicate with one another. It is important that we take the necessary steps to improve our health insurance systems and ensure these critical devices are readily available for those who need them. OIDs are even more crucial for individuals born with hearing deficiencies, as the first five years of life are important for speech and language development. I’m proud to introduce Ally’s Act, which will help establish better access to these critical hearing devices for those that need them.”

How you can support Ally’s Act becoming law

As Ally’s Act continues to advance through both the House and Senate, you can help by writing to your local congressional representatives and senators.

“Ask them to support H.R. 5485 and S. 4532 and tell them why this bill is important to you or your child or a loved one who requires the use of a bone anchored hearing aid or cochlear implant,” Melissa Tumblin advises.

For more information and to learn more about how you can help support Ally’s Act, please visit:  https://earcommunity.org/about/allys-act-h-r-5485/.

Ready to take the next step in your hearing journey? Click here to find a clinic near you!

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.

Jay Wietecha is a Proud Ponto Advocate

Jay hopes his journey to better hearing will inspire others

Jay Wietecha lost the hearing in his right ear at the end of July 2018 due to a 1.8cm acoustic neuroma that was surgically removed. Despite his surgeons’ best efforts to leave the hearing nerve intact, it still went out and he was left with single-sided deafness (SSD). He spoke to a treatment coordinator post-op who also happened to have SSD following removal of an acoustic neuroma, and was a Ponto user. She advised him that it was Jay’s best option and worth looking into. In October of 2018, Jay went through the minimally invasive Ponto surgery (MIPS) and had his first Ponto activated in November. In the following clip, he shares words of encouragement about the MIPS experience.

He was also better able to engage in conversations at busy restaurants and while driving in a car and enjoying background music. Without the Ponto, these situations were more challenging and less pleasurable. 

“I can comfortably say that the Ponto has made coping and living with SSD much easier and I enjoy a higher quality of life when using it,” Jay said.

Jay found he got the best results at home watching TV with background noise elsewhere in the house, and at work where he practices dentistry in noisy operatories with music playing in the background. He found he was better able to engage with patients and staff and didn’t have to work as hard to hear. He also became more aware of what was going on around him. Here’s what Jay wants you to know about the ease of holding conversations with a Ponto bone anchored hearing system.

Jay also played the drums for the first time since losing his hearing because he’d wanted to wait until he had the Ponto processor to see if it would sound the same as it has since he started playing a little over 30 years ago. The result? “It sounded perfect! I actually thought I might have to stop playing altogether when I lost my hearing, so of course I was filled with emotion over how great things sounded and I can continue playing,” said Jay.

Jay was excited to have the opportunity to try out Ponto 4 when he attended Oticon Medical’s annual New Advocates Meeting earlier this year. He was impressed by the smaller size and all its features.

Overall, Jay feels that wearing a Ponto increased the quality of his life and helped him move beyond the tragedy of losing half of his hearing. “There have actually been times when I feel as normal as I did before I lost my hearing,” he said.

Ready to try something new? Learn how to upgrade to a Ponto processor today!

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.

Lucy Brown Loves Ponto 4!

Part 3: Heading in the right direction

In Part 2 of this story, Lucy and her mom Georgene shared how Ponto 4 has helped Lucy leave the shadows and feel like a full participant in whatever environment she finds herself in. This week, in the third and final segment of their Ponto 4 testimonial, Lucy and Georgene explain the importance of knowing from which direction a sound is coming and how Ponto 4 has made that easier than ever before.

How is Georgene dealing with giving Lucy more independence now that she’s growing up? Having Ponto 4 certainly is helping ease her concerns with regards to Lucy’s safety.

Thank you, Lucy and Georgene, for sharing your experience with the Ponto 4! We’re so fortunate to have you as valued members of our Oticon Medical bone anchored hearing system family.

Viewers: do you have a Ponto 4 story you’d like to share with others who might be considering an upgrade? Please feel free to contact us at hisi@oticonmedical.com and let us know!

Ready to upgrade your processor? Click to learn how!

Have You Heard of Oticon Medical Friends?

Spread the word!

Right after Thanksgiving last year, Oticon Medical formally launched a new community for Ponto wearers and caregivers to Ponto wearers in the United States, Oticon Medical Friends. Our goal was to create a safe, private space for wearers and caregivers to share their experiences with their Ponto bone anchored hearing systems, ask each other for advice and tips, and learn from one another’s experiences with hearing loss and treatment. Additionally, the community provides more direct access to Oticon Medical employees for assistance with questions related to technology, insurance, and best practices as well as the opportunity to share ideas for product and service advancements.

Features designed to empower Ponto users and caregivers

Oticon Medical Friends provides helpful features for new and experienced Ponto wearers and caregivers, including:

  • Easily viewable information on your Ponto device(s), including warranty information. This information is stored securely in your Profile, so only you can see it.
  • Groups dedicated to different subjects relevant to you. You can easily browse and find the groups that reflect your everyday interests and experiences.
  • A resource library with downloadable material to make life even easier with your device. All materials are made exclusively for Oticon Medical Friends members.
  • Direct messaging. Talk directly and privately with other Oticon Medical Friends community members as well as Oticon Medical employees.
  • A first look at new products and accessories. Find out first what we are working on and offer suggestions for what you’d like us to develop.
  • Coming soon: Exclusive offers and contests for members.

Groups and more in Oticon Medical Friends

Within the community are different groups designed for new wearers, experienced Ponto users, and caregivers. We encourage you to join as many as you’d like! The following are your current options:

  • Daily Life
  • New Ponto Users
  • Active Living
  • Experienced Ponto Users
  • Tips and Tricks
  • Kids with Ponto
  • Music
  • Coming soon: Advocacy
  • US Insurance

We also have a growing Library of content to help maximize your experience and enjoyment of life with a Ponto BAHS and an area where we encourage you to make Suggestions, which we will  use to continue expanding and developing Oticon Medical Friends. We are just getting started, so the sooner you join, the more influence you can have on making this community the best resource it can be!

How do I join Oticon Medical Friends?

If you are currently using a Ponto or you are a parent or caregiver of a Ponto wearer, Oticon Medical Friends is for you! To join, simply click this link to Oticon Medical Friends, and when directed enter the serial number for your or your loved one’s device. Whether you are a new member of the Oticon Medical extended family or a seasoned advocate, Oticon Medical Friends is the place for you.

 

Lucy Brown Loves Ponto 4!

Part 2: Joining the crowd

 

Last week, we premiered Part 2 of a new Ponto 4 video story from Lucy Brown. In Part 2, Lucy and her mother, Georgene, share even more reasons why they’re glad Lucy upgraded her bone anchored hearing system! 

Lucy first tried out Ponto 4 during a visit to Nashville, where she had the opportunity to wear it in some pretty loud and crowded environments. In this video, Georgene shares: “Yesterday, we sure put Ponto 4 to the test.”

Did it pass? Watch and find out!

Tune in next week for the third and final installment of Lucy’s Ponto 4 user story.

Ready to upgrade your processor? Click to learn how!