Tag Archives: Oticon Medical

Good Vibrations Day is Here!

On Monday, May 3, we launched what will become an annually recurring awareness day, Good Vibrations Day, to celebrate and raise awareness about bone anchored hearing as a treatment.

Today, more than 250,000 people from all over the globe use some form of bone conduction hearing device. May 3 is meant to celebrate them and the treatment—regardless of brand—by providing them with a day to talk about their experiences living with bone anchored hearing devices.

“At Oticon Medical, we recognize the importance of sound for wellbeing, for development—even for general health. So, of course, we are passionate about providing as many people as possible with the best sound imaginable. That also means creating more awareness—not just about products—but about the treatment itself. We hear much too often that a person didn’t know that their hearing loss could be alleviated, and therefore went years and years unaided. This day, May 3, is our contribution to keeping the conversation of hearing alive.” –Oticon Medical CEO, Jes Olsen

A nod to the godfather of bone anchored hearing

The May 3 date was chosen deliberately because it is the birthday of Per-Ingvar Brånemark. Brånemark was a Swedish physician and research professor. He is known as father of osseointegration and the godfather of bone anchored hearing, because his discoveries enabled the development of today’s bone conduction hearing devices. Additionally, in the US and Canada, May is Better Hearing and Speech Month.

We are celebrating with different activities and events in countries all over the world, including informational posts, contests, and fun and games. It is our hope that other bone anchored brands will join us in making Good Vibrations Day a truly non-branded awareness day focused on the people and the treatment—not products.

Good Vibrations posts, stories, tweets, reels etc. can be shared by all using the #goodvibrations and the #boneanchoredhearing hashtags. You can find them posted here: Good Vibrations Facebook page.

We also welcome you to join and share YOUR stories of life with bone anchored hearing worldwide in the Good Vibrations Facebook Group.

 

 

Ponto 4 Wearer Shannon Shares the Joy of Discovering New Sounds

New wearer Shannon Dakin recently shared her excitement about living life with Ponto 4 in a Facebook Group. The following is her experience with our most advanced bone anchored hearing system to date, in her own words.

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Basically, due to ear infections as a child, I’ve always had hearing loss. Through surgeries (about 13), I was able to hear, but I don’t think I had perfect hearing. About 20 years ago, I had another round of infections that took away my hearing. All the surgeries failed, and they were unable to do any more due to too much scar tissue.

Since then, I’ve lived life with no hearing in my right ear and some hearing loss in my left. I was unable to use conventional hearing aids as they would plug my ear canal and cause infections. In that 20 years, I could never get the bone anchored system due to the cost, and none of the medical insurance plans I had would ever cover it, until I started working where I am now.

With my Ponto 4, I’ve gone from 20 years with limited hearing to hearing everything. It has been overwhelming and fascinating at the same time. I don’t know how I accomplished so much with my limited hearing! I don’t have anything to compare the Ponto 4 with, but the sound is great, and I’ve adapted well to using it. This has been a life-changer for me and I’m very thankful!

I noticed yesterday that cardinals are the loudest birds. It amazes me that they are so noisy! We live in a very noisy world. The ice maker is my nemesis. I never knew it made so much sound all the time and when it dumps, I jump!

My husband and I are starting beekeeping this year. I was able to hear buzzing before the device, but I have a feeling this spring and summer are going to be filled with so much buzzing sound! He says I’m like a two-year-old sometimes, always saying, “What’s that?! What’s that?!”

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We appreciate Shannon allowing us to share her experience and are thrilled she is enjoying her new life filled with sounds—even if some are more enjoyable than others!

If you are considering whether to take the next step and getting a Ponto bone anchored hearing system, we can help:

Wearers explain why you shouldn’t fear minimally invasive Ponto surgery

We frequently receive inquiries from people who know that they would benefit from a bone anchored hearing system (BAHS) but are holding off because they’re nervous about undergoing implantation surgery. While we can (and do) explain all the reasons our minimally invasive Ponto surgery (MIPS) is a low-risk, quick, and relatively painless procedure, nothing we can say will ever be quite as convincing as hearing from others who have experienced MIPS and its benefits firsthand or through their children. In this week’s post, we’re sharing feedback gathered from multiple Ponto BAHS wearers that we hope will alleviate any reticence that might be preventing you from moving forward in your journey to better hearing.

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“I had my abutment implanted 20 years ago with just local anesthetic and chatted with the assistant during the procedure; it was not painful.”— Beth P.

“It will be okay. My procedure was done 7 years ago, same day surgery, and all went well. I was given a large snap on protective disc/cover and that helped. By large, I mean it was about an inch in diameter. I used Neosporin cream, not greasy ointment, that had lidocaine in it. I would apply a small amount to the skin around the abutment and that helped with the tenderness. The surgery seems daunting, but it really is very safe. I had tenderness for a few days. My surgery was in December and then in February the device was added. I’m thankful every single day that I was able to have the surgery. It is life changing. I spent 50 years being so hard of hearing that once I got my Ponto, I sat and cried with joy.” — Lori H.

“I had my surgery with just a local anesthetic, was awake the whole time. It was fascinating as the doc explained it as she went along.” — Annette C.

“I had my MIPS in the morning, had brunch with my husband, and then napped that afternoon. Was more worried than was warranted!!! I had scheduled the next day off work, but it was not necessary! I teach figure skating. Best of luck! Happy hearing coming up!” — Karen L.

“If you’re talking about the Ponto abutment procedure, it was easy! I opted for no anesthesia or sedation. Just a local. It was painless. And not scary at all.” – Kathrin S.

“Had the procedure. No problems at all. Tiny discomfort the day of surgery. Got to start wearing the hearing aid after about 4-6 weeks. Went fabulously. No worries. You’ll do great! And you won’t regret it.” — Aaron B.

“Clear sound is in store for you… probably 4-8 weeks post-surgery. The abutment implant surgery was easy-peasy! There may be some mild tenderness or soreness. Use an antibiotic ointment! Keep area clean. If hat or cap wearing is part of your routine, take one with you so surgeon can place abutment below hat. Occasionally sleeping may be challenging if you are a side sleeper, changing pillows or pillow plumbing will help. These are minor inconveniences or adjustments for hearing capability! Bluetooth® streaming is wonderful for phone, TV, and other situations.” — Rita R.

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Are you ready to take the next step? We can help you find a clinic close to home where you can get all the answers you need regarding Ponto bone anchored hearing systems, MIPS, and more. You can also always contact Oticon Medical directly at 888.277.8014 or at info@oticonmedicalus.com.

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.

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!

Oticon Medical Insurance Support Helped Katie Upgrade to Ponto 4

When Katie Maslar ran into difficulty with getting insurance coverage, Oticon Medical’s  Reimbursement Support Team helped her file the appropriate paperwork and get her upgraded device. In her own words, Katie shares her experience going through the insurance process and how she’s hearing better with her new Ponto 4.

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I had started hearing really good things about the Ponto 4 on social media, and I hadn’t upgraded in a few years, so I decided to look into an upgrade. I initially saw my audiologist and ENT to fill out the appropriate paperwork to submit to my insurance. After not hearing anything for a couple months, I reached out to Oticon Medical. Unfortunately, my doctor’s office never submitted the paperwork.

In the interim, my previous Ponto Plus Power got broken, so my need for a new processor was even greater. After going back and forth with my insurance for a few months, the Oticon Medical staff and I were able to sort it out. I cannot say enough good things about how easy Oticon Medical made the process for me. Once we determined that I would be able to get the new device, the upgrade process was very simple and quick! I had the new Ponto 4 in a matter of days.

I’m very happy with the new features in Ponto 4. I honestly don’t mind not having onboard controls at all, since I really never need to manually tell the Ponto 4 what to do. I love that it’s smaller and more discreet. I was a little nervous, because I have an Android™ phone and wasn’t sure how easily they would work together, but I don’t find the need for the ConnectClip™ to really stop me from anything. It is much simpler to set and work, especially compared to using a streamer with my previous device.

It’s also really nice to be able to control the volume and check the battery level from my phone and not need the ConnectClip to do so. I am only deaf on my right side and have normal hearing in my left ear, but when listening to music and YouTube, I prefer to listen through my Ponto. The ease of connecting the ConnectClip with my tablet, and the sound quality it gives me, is great. I really do love it!

I can hear people in noisy environments easier now. The Ponto 4 makes a huge difference.

The biggest thing the Ponto 4 does for me is give me confidence. I’m no longer constantly straining to hear people and worried that if they speak, I will accidentally ignore them. I can hear people on my deaf side without even really thinking about it! I’m more confident and spend less time worrying about who’s speaking and whether I’ll hear them. I’m happy when I can pay attention to all the details and sound quality the Ponto 4 gives me, because that’s when I realize just how fantastic it is.

I liken the difference to this: My old processor was like writing with the blunt tip of a pencil, and the Ponto 4 is like writing with the tip of a sharp pencil.

Why You Should Consider Implantation if You Use a Softband – Part 2

A difference you can hear

While studies and statistics provide clear indications that MIPS implantation improves hearing results, it always helps to hear from actual wearers who went through the procedure. We appreciate adult wearer Jody Bennett and parent of a wearer Dayla Hurley for allowing us to share their personal experiences in their own words.

Jody Bennett on switching from Ponto BAHS softband to implant

Having experienced very few surgical procedures in my life, I was at first a bit nervous and anxious, to say the least, about having the MIPS done. I had nothing to worry about! It was an easy procedure and a wonderful outcome!

I lost my hearing on my right side nine years prior due to SSHL (sudden sensorineural hearing loss). I had no idea a bone anchored hearing system (BAHS) even existed. I had tried CROS hearing aids, a ‘regular’ hearing aid, and was so frustrated I could not hear what was going on in my right side easily. After searching around on the internet and finding a Facebook group with people who had the same or similar problems, I found the Oticon Medical system and knew right away that’s what could help me.

I was immediately told by an ENT I was a good candidate for the Oticon Medical Ponto and put on the surgical list for surgery in two weeks. I was nervous but so excited I would be able to “hear” again!

The procedure was so positive. I had the surgery to implant the abutment as outpatient surgery. Everyone involved was pleasant and so helpful. I was in and out in just a few hours. No pain, just a tiny bit of a headache, which was probably due to the anesthesia. I took it easy the rest of the day and went back to work the next day. To date, I’ve not had any problems at all with the surgery site.

I think the most difficult part of the whole thing was finding the right pillow to accommodate sleeping on the side my abutment is on, which is the side I prefer the most. I found the perfect pillow and hey, no problem!

I had to wait three months before the processor was fitted to the abutment (my ENT and audiologist’s rules). I actually was able to get a softband and wear my Ponto during that time, which was great (although hearing via the softband and hearing via the abutment is such a difference!).

I have had my Ponto 4 since August 2019 attached to the abutment and I love it! I can hear what’s going on from my right side now. I can hear people whisper (when it’s a quiet setting). I can watch TV with my Oticon TV streamer, and it is amazing! I can answer phone calls using the processor! I can listen to music and watch movies on my iPad with it!

I tell anyone and everyone who is interested in my experience. And my friends and family say that I have perked back up to my ‘old’ self! I am more confident and feel less stressed. It’s amazing what having your hearing back can do for you!

Mom Dayla Hurley upgraded her son from softband to BAHS implant

We adopted Brody almost six years ago. Now that his journey to hearing is complete, I want to share our experience. Brody’s steps to MIPS and bilateral Ponto 4s were not conventional and he even had some complications. But with all that said, we would not change one thing! We are so grateful! Having the abutments has been the best thing for him. They healed so easily without extra fuss.

Our son has not been a standard situation and had a few detours along the way. After an eight-month process, he finally snapped on two Ponto 4s yesterday. He is so giddy! You could see the improvement in his audiograms over wearing the device on a softband. For us, there is no doubt that getting the implant  was the way to go. His speech has become so clear since having the implant  12 weeks ago. He started asking about noises in the car, the dryer running, and lyrics to songs he never heard before.

Just today Brody said as soon as he snapped on his Ponto 4s, “Hey, Mom, did you know that every morning the birds are singing?” I said, “Yes, Brody, did you just hear that?” He said, “Yep, I just found out that they sing every morning. I heard them yesterday and today and since I’ve had my new Pontos.”  So sweet. And innocent. He did not know everything he was missing.  We listen to music daily and Brody is often singing. We could always recognize the song he was singing by the tune, but the words were never understandable.  Since having his Ponto 4s, he is asking about the lyrics in songs on the radio saying, “Ha! I never heard that before.”  And, he is singing the correct words! We are thrilled.

Click through the link to find out everything you need to know about upgrading your Ponto device!

 

 

 

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.