Tag Archives: Covid-19

Ponto Surgery During the Pandemic

Since the onset of the novel coronavirus, people considering minimally invasive Ponto surgery (MIPS) have had to ask themselves: should I hold off treating my hearing loss? The answer is that your decision – and that of the audiology professional who would perform it – will be unique to your specific circumstances. However, should you decide to proceed, rest assured that hospitals and medical facilities around the United States have implemented the strictest precautions for keeping you safe.

The MIPS procedure is an elective surgery, so the main factor affecting whether yours will go ahead as planned will be the COVID-19 restrictions currently in place where your procedure would occur. While many states are experiencing a second wave as of this writing, not every town or city within those states has been equally affected nor is every state implementing the same level of restrictions on elective surgeries. So your first step is to check the current limitations governing the region in which you plan to have the MIPS procedure.

Assuming your location would permit your procedure to take place, your next step would be to discuss options like where your surgery will take place with your hearing health professional. Your surgeon will review your overall medical history and health risks along with your personal hearing issues, and then based on this information and your expressed comfort level recommend that you have the procedure as an inpatient or outpatient. The good news is that minimally invasive Ponto surgery can and has been performed successfully in either environment, as it is a quick procedure (compared to other surgeries) and usually doesn’t require a lengthy onsite recovery, especially if it is performed under local anesthetic.

COVID-19 safety precautions at clinics and hospitals

Medical institutions around the United States have learned much from the first go-round dealing with the coronavirus and instituting the strictest safety precautions to protect patients. If you are preparing for MIPS, here is a quick rundown of what you will likely experience as your clinic or hospital takes steps to protect you, other patients, and their staff.

  1. COVID-19 tests and screens. You will be screened and likely take a COVID-19 test (possibly more than once) during pre-surgical and day-of surgical visits. You will also have your temperature taken and answer questions about whether you have a cough, muscle aches, loss of taste or smell, or other common symptoms of the virus. You might be told to self-quarantine at home (typically 14 days) before your procedure to reduce your risk of exposure.
  2. Surgical team precautions. Anyone involved in your care before, during, and after MIPS will be going through regular, multiple tests and screenings to protect you. They will also be wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) that includes medical-grade face masks, face shields, gowns, and gloves. Research has shown that PPE use reduces the risk of infecting patients significantly.
  3. Hospital precautions. Medical facilities around the country have been and continue to take extra precautions to thoroughly clean and sanitize, especially in areas where operations take place. If a hospital also treats COVID-19 patients, they restrict that care to separate areas. This normally includes dedicating staff to only care for those patients and even requiring those patients and their visitors (if any are allowed) to use separate entrances and waiting rooms.
  4. Clinic precautions. As for clinics dedicated to hearing healthcare, they are regularly screening any patients that come onsite for fever and other indications of coronavirus, as well as implementing enhanced cleaning and sanitization protocols, mandating patients and staff remain six feet apart whenever possible, requiring staff to take tests if they suspect exposure, and to quarantine if they have a positive test or have reason to suspect they were exposed to coronavirus. PPE has been distributed to clinics for use during surgical and other direct procedures. Many clinics have also taken advantage of telehealth advancements to reduce the number of in-person visitors to their clinics significantly.

The decision is yours – and your surgeon’s

Ultimately, every medical decision must be made on an individual basis. A procedure that is nearly 100 percent without risk for one patient might not be safe for another. Pre-existing conditions must be taken into consideration, along with age and overall health.

That said, should you and your hearing care professional determine MIPS would be safe for you to undergo now, we are confident you will be satisfied with the results. The procedure itself is simple and usually completed in under twenty minutes. Your surgeon will place a small titanium implant in the bone behind your ear. Many patients only require local anesthesia, and there is no need for stitches. Typically, post-operative recovery requires no more than a day or two off work or out of school. And the results speak for themselves – 98 percent of users report improved quality of life after minimally invasive Ponto surgery.[1]

If you are ready to learn more about MIPS and life with Ponto, we can help you find a clinic near you.

[1] Lagerkvist, H, et al., Ten years’ experience with the Ponto bone anchored hearing system – a systematic literature review. Clin Otolaryngol, 2020.

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!

 

Face Mask Alternatives for People without Ears

For many of us, the most challenging part of the CDC’s latest recommendation that everyone should wear a face mask* when going out during the Covid-19 epidemic is finding (or making) masks. However, for people with microtia or anotia, this is compounded by the difficulty of wearing a traditional mask with small or no external ear(s). Fortunately, there are ways around the challenge presented by traditional masks with loops for around the ears.

Making your own face masks for Covid-19 use

As mentioned above, one of the biggest challenges for everyone is figuring out how to follow the latest guidelines on covering your mouth and nose when having to go out for groceries or other necessities during the coronavirus outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have posted helpful DIY guidelines for making and using cloth face coverings on their website. These can be further adapted to fit people without ears using the suggestions below.

Add strings to face masks

If you are making your own face mask, instead of using traditional ear loops you can attach tie-able strings at the top and on the bottom corners. These can be comfortably tied around the head to fit without requiring ears or getting in the way of your bone anchored hearing device.

Attach buttons to a headband

If you happen to have a traditional medical mask — especially if you’re a healthcare worker — then altering a scarf, bandanna, or other adaptable headband to add buttons on either side of your head is a good workaround. You can then put the loops around the buttons in place of ears.

 

 

 

 

Use a paperclip

This is a clever and simple trick: take a paperclip, slide it around each ear loop on the mask to connect them in back, then put the mask on over your head and adjust comfortably.

 

 

 

 

Do you have any other DIY suggestions for making face masks wearable without ears? Please share in the comments!

We’d like to thank our friend Melissa Tumblin and Ear Community for allowing us to share these helpful tips and photo examples.

*Masks featured in this post are not N95-rated or surgical grade.

To Our Valued Customers

A message from our Oticon Medical US president

At Oticon Medical we take the well-being of our community and colleagues seriously and are monitoring the developing coronavirus outbreak closely.

Currently, we have implemented procedures for continuing to operate our business so we may service our customers while also supporting the authorities’ work to contain the risk of infection.

Oticon Medical USA’s guidelines for activities in and around our company follow the guidance of our national health organizations, and in some cases, we are even more cautious. We will constantly update our policy to reflect any changes in guidance from authorities.

Our first priority is the health of you, your clients and patients, and our staff. We are doing our best to ensure our service to you is maintained as much as possible given the circumstances. We are taking all possible actions to ensure reliable production, insurance services, device repairs, and deliveries continue. And our local Oticon Medical personnel is instructed to familiarize themselves with and always follow the health guidelines of local hospitals and clinics.

We greatly appreciate your understanding and thank you for your loyalty to Oticon Medical. We also appreciate that this outbreak affects not only your cooperation with Oticon Medical but your daily life and that of your family, patients, and staff.  Please stay safe and know that our thoughts are with you during this difficult time.

Sincerely,

John Sparacio
President, Oticon Medical US