Humidity Issues and How to Combat Them

As the summer months arrive, so does the hot, humid weather. You may want to consider how this can affect the function of your Ponto™ processor.

Your processor is vulnerable to environmental changes like increased humidity in the air or condensation caused by moving between air-conditioned interiors and extreme heat outside.  While the Ponto 5 family of processors have an IP rating of 57 when the battery is in the processor, it is still important to consider ways to minimize exposure or combat the effects of moisture.

Warning signs of moisture issues include the following:

  • Your processor’s sounds are distorted or staticky
  • Your processor works intermittently or cuts in and out
  • You see corrosion in the battery compartment or around the battery
  • You feel that your batteries are not lasting as long as they normally do

 Can you help prevent moisture issues?

You can start by developing good processor cleaning and care habits. If the processor comes into contact with sweat, rain, or moisture, wipe it with a clean, dry cloth. The Ponto Care™ app, available for iPhone® and Android™ users, provides helpful information on the proper care and maintenance of your device. For example, avoid storing your processor in the bathroom where it could be affected by humidity from showers or baths.

How can I help reduce moisture that may be in my Ponto?

Drying systems are an easy and effective way to reduce moisture that may accumulate in your processor due to normal usage, rain, or living in areas with high humidity.

There are two main types of systems. The first is considered passive; this uses desiccant, much like the packs that you find in vitamin bottles. These are typically called, “jar dryers” and contain the desiccant beads that can be “recharged” by putting them in the oven or microwave. You simply put the processor in the jar without a battery and close the lid. Jar dryers are great for travel, camping or when you do not want to use electricity.

The second type is an active dehumidifier. This type also has a desiccant pack or puck but adds in a fan to circulate air. These “box dryer” systems can also have a UV-C light that acts as a germicide. Box dryers more aggressively reduce moisture from your Ponto processor. Again, you can put your processor in the dryer without a battery and turn the dryer on. The box dryer will typically run through a cycle that lasts between 6-8 hours. You can feel comfortable using these types of drying systems every night and as your storage case overnight.

Use your bone anchored hearing system all summer long

Wherever your adventures take you this summer, make sure your Ponto processor keeps up with you by following some simple care and maintenance steps. With a little care and common sense, you can continue enjoying the sounds you love regardless of the season.

About the author

Nicole Maxam, AuD CCC-A is part of the Auditory Technical Services team at Oticon Medical. She has been an audiologist for over 17 years and has experience with providing patients with hearing aids and implantable solutions.

3 Big Things OpenSound Navigator Does for You

Oticon Medical’s Ponto™ 5 family of bone anchored hearing systems (BAHS) includes OpenSound Navigator™, which handles multiple, dynamic speech and noise sources for you to instantly capture and easily follow the listening environment. This groundbreaking technology and ultra-fast processing analyzes sounds, balances surrounding sounds and removes excessive background noise in a split second. But what does that mean for you, the Ponto wearer? Here are three important ways in which OpenSound Navigator helps you focus on what’s important.

1.      Keeps you connected to your sound environment

Conventional sound processors aim to improve speech understanding by removing sound, such as by using directionality to just focus on the speakers in front of you. While this may improve speech understanding, it can also leave you feeling cut off. Ponto 5 Mini and SuperPower devices take a different approach. The pioneering OpenSound Navigator technology lets you hear sounds from all around you and stay connected with your sound environment.  This makes it easy to follow what’s going on. Ponto 5 uses OpenSound Navigator technology to open up the full soundscape, so you can hear sounds from all directions. New research confirms that this open soundscape gives the brain what it needs to create a better listening experience.

OpenSound Navigator balances surrounding sounds, so the background sounds are available, but not disturbing. In this way, no sounds are eliminated but individual sound sources are rebalanced to support the user in separating sounds, making it easier for you to switch attention when needed.

2.      Provides access to all sounds, which is important for your brain

Good hearing helps your brain to stay fit throughout your life—and helps avoid many other health problems. 1,2,3 In short, hearing health contributes to brain health. That is why we continue to develop BrainHearing™ technology for our Ponto devices. Traditional sound processors improve speech intelligibility by removing sound – using technologies, such as directionality and speech prioritization. Moreover, with traditional sound processors, whenever there is a risk of feedback, gain is reduced. New research now shows that the brain needs access to all sounds from the full soundscape to help it make sense of what it hears.4,5

Hear the difference

With the BrainHearing technologies in Ponto 5 processors, such as OpenSound Navigator and OpenSound Optimizer™, users have access to more sound than ever before. This has resulted in outstanding results in improving speech understanding and reducing listening effort.

Better speech understanding

The unique open sound experience of OpenSound Navigator in Ponto 5 gives users access to 360° sound from all around them, which has been shown to improve speech understanding by more than 20%.*6

Less listening effort

The open sound experience also significantly reduces the listening effort needed to make sense of sound. Pupillometry tests carried out on the OpenSound Navigator showed overall pupil dilation was reduced by 36%.*6

How can you measure listening effort? Pupillometry tests measure the listener’s pupil size as an
indicator of brain activity. In listening tests, pupil dilation reflects the effort needed to understand: the bigger the pupil, the greater the effort. 6

*Increased speech understanding with OpenSound Navigator ON measured as a percentage relative to the baseline with OpenSound Navigator OFF.

1.      Recognizes the difference between “Noise” and “Sound”

Kevin Hotaling is a Ponto user* and had this to share regarding his real-life experience with OpenSound Navigator:

“When I first wore a Ponto device with OpenSound Navigator after having used an older model for years, it was a truly awakening experience. After events in public venues and family gatherings where lots of sound was present, I noticed the system I was wearing put in a type of effort that I didn’t believe possible at the time. My device seemed to actively recognize the difference between “Noise” and “Sound.” It also seemed to be prioritizing and amplifying sounds that were important, such as a person’s voice with whom I was speaking, and dampening noises that were not as important, like the movement of dishes in a restaurant or background chatter. After a while, I also noticed I was paying far less attention to the fact that I was wearing a bone-anchored hearing system—and that’s a good thing! I was spending far less energy on trying to hear. The best type of hearing is the type you don’t have to think about, and I finally have that with OpenSound Navigator!”

Connect with other Ponto users

Hearing what others have to say about their experience and getting advice from those who have been in your shoes is invaluable! One easy way to get started is inside the Ponto Care™ app under Information. There are video and written testimonials by Ponto users that you can easily access to check out what others have to say about their Ponto experience. We can also connect you with an Oticon Medical Ponto Advocate. Simply contact Oticon Medical online  or call 888-277-8014.

Another way to connect is by following our Oticon Medical Facebook Page. Here you can chat with Ponto users, as well as read interesting posts and short articles.

Try the open sound experience for yourself. Ask for a trial of Ponto 5 Mini or Ponto 5 SuperPower and congratulations from our team on beginning your journey toward better hearing health!

About the Author

Gail Leininger, Au.D., CCC-A is an audiologist who has worked with implantable technologies for over twenty years. She is an Auditory Technical Specialist for Oticon Medical.

* Financial Disclosure

Kevin Hotaling is an employee of Oticon Medical. He is a Ponto user of seven years, and has been a consumer advocate, speaker, and ambassador with Oticon Medical for just as long.

 References

1 Amieva, H., et al. (2018). Death, depression, disability, and dementia associated with self-reported hearing problems: a 25-year study. The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, 73(10), 1383-1389

2 Lin, F. R., et al. (2011). Hearing loss and incident dementia. Archives of Neurology, 68(2), 214-220

3 Lin, F. R., et al. (2012). Hearing loss and falls among older adults in the United States. Archives of internal medicine, 172(4), 369-371

4 O'Sullivan, et al. (2019). Hierarchical Encoding of Attended Auditory Objects in Multi-talker Speech Perception. Neuron, 104(6), 1195-1209

5 Puvvada, K. C. et al. (2017). Cortical representations of speech in a multi-talker auditory scene. Journal of Neuroscience, 37(38), 9189-9196

6 Manuscript in preparation, Data on File - Clinical study BC102

Bianchi, F, Weile, J N et al. (2020). OpenSound Navigator™ for Ponto, Oticon Medical white paper 215170.

[Oticon Medical us website link https://www.oticonmedical.com/us/the-new/open-sound-navigator ]

Exploring the Links Between Your Hearing and Your Health

Did you know? 

We exercise, drink water, and eat healthy to prevent any health issues down the road. Many of us have regular primary care appointments as preventative care. But what about your hearing health? How does hearing loss impact your overall health?

Nearly 27 million Americans ages 50 and older have hearing loss. Of those, only one in seven treat it. Those that do treat their hearing loss often wait an average of 10 years or more before meeting with a hearing healthcare processional. Unfortunately, this can have a lasting impact on your health.

A study from Johns Hopkins expert Frank Lin, M.D. Ph.D monitored nearly 700 adults for 12 years and found that people with moderate or severe hearing loss were at an increased risk for developing balance problems resulting in more frequent falls as well as a higher prevalence of memory loss. In addition to these findings, other research has confirmed that individuals with heart disease, kidney disease, and diabetes are more likely to also experience hearing loss as compared to their age matched peers.

So, how does this impact your daily life?

If you are reading this post, you are likely very aware that hearing loss can have a significant impact on social interactions. You might find that you are asking others to repeat themselves. You may struggle to follow conversation with more than one person. Or you may find yourself thinking everyone else is mumbling. Whatever it is that you struggle with, the effects on social interactions can lead to self-isolation and ultimately depression and anxiety.

What can you do to prevent these effects?

One of the best ways to prevent these issues is to start with good hearing habits early in life. Just like we brush our teeth every day for good oral hygiene, we should protect our hearing when in loud environments. We should reduce exposure to medications that can cause hearing loss and we should have regular hearing exams with a hearing healthcare provider to monitor hearing over time. If hearing loss is detected, we should treat it quickly.

What if I already know I have hearing loss?

Now is a great time to start treating it! Do not hold back from choosing to do something about it. Schedule an appointment with your hearing healthcare provider and share a comprehensive medical history with them. Work with them to determine the best solution for you. If you do not yet have a provider, please use our Find a clinic tool. Or you can reach out to our team at 888.277.8014 (M-F 8am-8pm ET), and we would be glad to help find the right provider for you.

Any form of hearing loss can be challenging for the person experiencing it and for loved ones trying to communicate with them. It is our hope to help you hear your best because sound matters!

About the author‌

Alicia Wooten, Au.D. CCC-A is a Senior Auditory Technical Specialist at Oticon Medical. She specializes in implantable hearing devices and has a strong passion for aural rehabilitation and its impact on patient outcomes.

Citations

Hopkinsmedicine.org. 2022. The Hidden Risks of Hearing Loss. [online] Available at: <https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-hidden-risks-of-hearing-loss> [Accessed 29 April 2022].

How Advocacy Led Emma Kate’s Family to the Right Hearing Loss Treatment

Longtime Oticon Medical advocates Georgene and Lucy Brown befriended Liz and Emma Kate Greene, which led to Emma Kate getting a Ponto™ bone anchored hearing system (BAHS) to treat her single-sided deafness (SSD). Now Liz shares her family’s journey toward finding the right solution and the vital roles Georgene and Lucy played in making their decision.

Emma Kate has single-sided deafness due to conductive hearing loss. This is secondary to otosclerosis, which was first diagnosed in kindergarten, but we suspect occurred in 4K as we had quite a bit of difficulty that year following directions. Her teachers actually thought she was autistic because she had difficulty interacting at school, but we had no difficulty at home. We suspect this was because there was less background noise and because her dad and I both have strong (loud) voices.  

She initially used a behind-the-ear regular hearing aid. She told us that this did not improve her hearing almost at all and we had a lot of difficulty getting her to wear the device. She also had difficulty being active as her device would frequently fall off and get lost.

Discovering bone conduction as a treatment option

We were first introduced to the idea of a bone anchored hearing device by our ENT when Emma Kate was 10 but he told us this wouldn’t be an option until she was older for implant. He did not offer the option of wearing a device on a softband. He also dealt exclusively with another manufacturer and therefore Ponto was not offered as an option. Once we were introduced to the idea of bone anchored devices, I did a lot of research into available devices along with the pros and cons of each, which lead us to a new ENT who was able to work with Oticon Medical devices.

As part of my research, I joined several social media groups geared towards bone anchored devices for both adults and children. In asking questions in these groups I was frequently referred to Georgene Brown, as our daughters are close in age and both active. She was incredibly friendly and informative when I reached out and has always been willing to spend time discussing her vast knowledge regarding bone anchored devices.

I think that all preteens, especially preteen girls, want to feel like they fit in. Any difference is upsetting, particularly when you feel that you’re the only one dealing with an issue. Emma Kate’s friendship with Lucy Brown has helped her feel that someone else understands the challenges that she has from being hearing impaired and also the fears that come with requiring surgery, how to fit in at school, etc. It has been incredibly beneficial to Emma Kate to be able to talk to someone who has lived through these experiences and is thriving despite hearing loss.

The next step: minimally invasive implantation surgery

Emma Kate’s abutment placement was incredibly smooth. We had a same-day procedure. She recovered from anesthesia without difficulty and was playing her guitar about two hours after we left the hospital. We had no difficulty with healing or infections. We were able to activate her Ponto about six weeks after her procedure. The most difficult part was not using her Ponto during that time at school.

Emma Kate says that since having her abutment implanted, she can hear better and that it is much more comfortable to wear her Ponto as opposed to when she was wearing the softband.* She also states that she was embarrassed for people to see the softband but feels that her Ponto is now much more discreet. She is able to be active without her Ponto moving but states that her softband would slip out of place sometimes when moving between classes at school.

The benefits of Ponto 5 Mini

Now, having the new Ponto 5 Mini makes Emma Kate’s life even easier. We first noticed an improvement when Emma Kate began wearing a Ponto on a softband However, the benefits have increased since her MIPS procedure. At home, she is able to engage more at dinner or in conversations.

At school, Emma Kate uses an EduMic™ to stream her teachers’ voices directly to her Ponto. Particularly in middle school where she has multiple teachers, some of whom are very soft-spoken or teach from the back of the room, this has been incredibly helpful. Again, this is particularly helpful during the pandemic, as many teachers are wearing masks. We have seen an improvement in her grades from consistent B’s and C’s to A’s and B’s.

She also has found significant improvement in everyday activities. She loves to play guitar and listen to music. Her Ponto has significantly improved her ability to follow music while playing her guitar and to watch TV or listen to music without the whole house hearing what she’s watching. She loves the ability to stream music directly to her Ponto, especially on road trips.

Emma Kate would say her greatest improvement is socially. She is much more confident engaging in conversations since she is not frequently having to ask her friends to repeat themselves. And this is particularly helpful in settings with background noise, such as restaurants, parties, and the cafeteria at school.

The Ponto 5 Mini’s small size, as well as the lack of feedback (due to the OpenSound Optimizer™ feature) when worn under her thick, long hair were both critical in our decision-making when comparing devices initially. She also uses the Bluetooth® capability almost daily. We have not yet used a remote appointment (via the RemoteCare™ feature) with our audiologist but have discussed that this is possible in the future. 

What parents considering a BAHS for their child should know

I want someone considering getting a bone anchored hearing device to know that there are options. Frequently, only one popular brand’s products are presented but there are other companies, such as Oticon Medical, that have incredible products as well as unparalleled support. When I initially reached out to Oticon Medical to get information prior to deciding to pursue a Ponto, I was immediately connected with a local representative who was present at Emma Kate‘s activation appointment and has been invaluable throughout this process. She is constantly willing to help me adjust settings as well as obtain necessities, such as an extra case or support for school.

I would also want them to know that there may be insurance challenges. However, our ENT and Oticon Medical have been incredibly helpful in working through these.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I want them to know that they are not alone. There are multiple support groups available online through social media that can help connect to other parents as well as young adult and adult patients who are using bone anchored hearing devices in their everyday lives. These individuals are always more than willing and gracious to answer questions, provide experiences, and to just listen to the frustrations and fears that unavoidably come with having a child with hearing loss. We have found this community, particularly Georgene and her family, to be our biggest cheerleaders through this process. They have helped alleviate Emma Kate’s fears, as well as our concerns, while having our daughter go through a surgical procedure, healing, and ultimately making life-changing decisions. We are so thankful we found Oticon Medical because even in the short time that we have been using Emma Kate’s Ponto we have seen vast benefits.

Ready to try a Ponto bone anchored hearing system? Find a clinic near you!

* NOTE: Implantation is contraindicated for children below the age of 5 years.

You Hear with Your Brain

Exploring the Close Relationship Between Hearing Health and Cognitive Health

What is cognition?

Cognition is the “the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.” (Oxford 2022). It is how we process information, develop into who we are, learn what we learn and process our surrounding environment. Cognitive function is critical to participation in activities, social gatherings and for enjoying conversation with family and friends.

What does hearing have to do with cognition?

In recent years, there has been a steady increase in research outcomes that show a connection between untreated hearing loss and accelerated cognitive decline.  One study completed by Croll et al in 2021, showed that individuals with hearing loss had lower cognitive function results than those of their peers with normal hearing. In several studies using functional imaging, there was evidence that when listening to different inputs the brain was stimulated less in individuals with hearing loss.

There are numerous theories as to how hearing loss plays a role in cognitive changes. Today we will examine two schools of thought.

The Common Cause Theory

The first theory to explore is the concept that age-related changes cause global declines. This widely researched theory suggests that neural degenerative diseases or even cardiovascular disease play a role in overall cognition. How does this theory expand to untreated hearing loss? This theory suggests that, like other health conditions, hearing loss has an impact on our overall health and cognitive abilities as we age.

The Cascade Theory

This is known as the “use it or lose it” theory (Chung, 2018). We know that hearing loss decreases auditory stimulation within the brain, and in turn this deprivation can cause cognitive decline. The idea is that auditory deprivation (i.e., hearing loss) can cause a ‘cascade’ of other issues like social isolation, depression, and the accelerated onset of dementia. Hearing loss also causes a person to have more cognitive load, meaning that individuals with hearing loss must work harder to process information. If we further explore the ‘cascade’ theory, there is hope that by treating your hearing loss sooner than later, you can slow the progression of cognitive decline.

What you can do to retain cognitive function as you age

Additional research is needed to understand more about how hearing loss impacts cognition. However, research suggests there are close ties between our hearing health and our overall health and wellness.

Here are a few steps you can take to ensure that your hearing health and cognition stay in shape as you age:

  • Get your hearing tested annually and continue to monitor it regularly. Add your hearing to the list of health-related check-ups you schedule each year.
  • If you have a hearing loss, seek treatment from an audiologist. Early intervention and early use of hearing aids or assistive listening devices are proven to reduce the effects of hearing loss such as depression, isolation, and memory loss.
  • Use the latest technology to your advantage. Although hearing aids cannot reverse the effects of hearing loss and cognitive decline, research does show that patients who use hearing devices regularly to treat their hearing loss have a greater ability to retain their cognitive function throughout the aging process.

Talk to a hearing care professional about the many benefits of treating your hearing loss today. And if traditional hearing aids aren’t the right solution for you, we encourage you to explore a bone anchored hearing system instead.

About the Author

Author Nicole Maxam, AuD, has been an audiologist for almost 17 years and has worked with a variety of patients. Before joining the Auditory Technical Services team, she worked in the school settings and private ENT setting offering hearing aids and implantable options to her patients.

Resources

  • Campbell, Julia and Sharma, Anu. “Compensatory changes in cortical resource allocation in adults with hearing loss”, Front. Syst. Neurosci., 25 October 2013, https://doi.org/10.3389/fnsys.2013.00071
  • Crolling, Pauline, “Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline in the General Population: a prosceptive cohort study”, J Neurol. 2021 Mar;268(3):860-871. doi: 10.1007/s00415-020-10208-8
  • “Cognition”. Lexico. Oxford University Press and Dictionary.com. Retrieved 3/25/2022
  • King, Chung. Theories on Hearing-Cognition Functions, The Hearing Journal Dec. 2018. V71.12 p10-12.
  • Naples, James, Hearing Loss may affect brain health, Harvard Health Blog, 31 Jan 2020, www.health.harvard.edu/blog/hearing-loss-may-affect-brain-health-2020013118739
  • Tran, Yvonne, et al, “Co-occurring Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline in Older Adults: A Dual Group-Based Trajectory Modeling Approach”, Front Aging Neurosci. 2021 Dec 24;13:794787. doi:10.3389/fnagi.2021.794787. eCollection 2021

Ask the Expert Series

Audiologist Laura Rhee’s Insights on Fitting Children with Ponto Systems

We had the wonderful pleasure of talking with lead pediatric audiologist, Dr. Laura Rhee from Providence Speech and Hearing Center and CHOC of California, about her experience fitting Oticon Medical Ponto Systems.

Why do you choose to work with Oticon Medical’s Ponto family of bone conduction devices?

Dr. Rhee: “I recommend Oticon Medical bone conduction devices over other manufacturers because your devices tend to have far less feedback issues. I make very few adjustments during the fitting due to the lack of feedback. This gives my patients more access to sound without the annoyance of feedback or reduction in speech understanding.”

What do you like about the Oticon Medical Ponto fittings?

Dr. Rhee: “I really like how easy the Ponto devices are to fit. Typically, I don’t have to make many adjustments to programming. At my clinic, we pre-program sound processors to make fittings go smoothly. We counsel families about daily use, how to clean and handle the sound processor and accessories during a demonstration or consultation appointment. Pre-programming the sound processors frees up time for us to spend counseling the families, improving our clinical efficiency, and providing valuable information to the family without being rushed.”

What are some challenges you or your patients face with Oticon Medical Ponto fittings?

Dr. Rhee: “The hardest part of a new fitting is the softband. It’s important to have it (the softband) tight enough to get a good fitting but this can become uncomfortable or may need to be adjusted throughout the day. Very young children will often grab and pull the band off throughout the day requiring parents or caregivers to replace and reposition often I tell parents it’s important to maintain a consistent wearing schedule each day because it will help children adapt to the softband and provide consistent access to sound, which is crucial for developing language”.

What advice do you give parents that are just starting this journey with their child?

Dr. Rhee: “Use the processor all waking hours to stimulate auditory connections within the brain. If you don’t use the auditory nerve or pathway, your brain will reuse those neural connections for other senses. Keep your brain working using the processor consistently to help reduce listening fatigue and foster speech development.”

Final thoughts on reducing feedback in bone conduction hearing devices

One of the key takeaways from our discussion was the importance of reducing feedback (aka ‘whistling’ or ‘whining’ noise) that occurs when amplified sound is reflected from the head, reaches the microphone, and is re-amplified. If feedback is not eliminated by an anti-feedback system, it becomes audible to the user and others around them. With Oticon Medical’s OpenSound Optimizer™ (OSO), you aren’t compromising gain or volume due to feedback. This is especially important when working with pediatric patients, who are often in a car seat, highchair, or lying on their backs during playtime. And Oticon Medical’s OpenSound Optimizer does just that—prevents feedback and provides stable gain so that users can get the most out of their devices without compromising speech understanding.[1]

Helpful links for parents of Ponto wearers

Here are some links that may be helpful for parents who are in the process of getting their child an Oticon Medical bone anchored hearing system (BAHS) or families of children that are new to wearing a Ponto BAHS processor.

About our expert: Dr. Laura Rhee

Dr. Rhee obtained her audiology degree from San Diego State University and University of California San Diego and has been at Providence since 2014. She works with a wide variety of pediatric patients (zero to 21), including children with craniofacial disorders. She has treated children with atresia, Treacher Collins and other syndromes related to hearing loss.

[1] BC109 Study (Data on file)

A Nurse’s Journey to Better Hearing with Ponto 5 Mini

NICU nurse Christina shares her experience recovering from acoustic neuroma and finding the right treatment for her resulting single-sided deafness.

After my first medical mission trip to Guatemala in 2020, I came back to the states with a global pandemic starting and a constellation of symptoms that seemed to be getting worse that my doctor could not explain. It would not be until January of 2021 that I would learn a small brain tumor was responsible for my debilitating symptoms.

I was terrified and worried for my family. I am a single mom of two small children. My kids depend on me, and I am the sole income for my household. My job as a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurse requires full use of all my senses and this tumor was going to take my hearing, balance, and possibly more. I was worried about what my life would look like, not to mention the possibility of losing my life to the tumor itself.

In May of 2021, I flew from Atlanta, Georgia to California to have surgery with the specialists at University of California San Diego to remove the vestibular schwannoma (acoustic neuroma) that was growing on my cranial nerve. My recovery was hard, and unfortunately, they were not able to save my hearing. I was now completely deaf in one ear. I was heartbroken. I couldn’t hear in loud places. I had a strange feeling that there was just a huge black hole next to my deaf side. The doctors call it a head shadow, but it was more like a black hole to me.

Challenges of finding the right single-sided deafness treatment

Once I had physically recovered from surgery, my doctor back home wanted me to get a hearing device to use, and get used to, before returning to my work as a nurse. I initially got a loaner BiCROS hearing aid to try out from the hospital. Slowly, the black hole disappeared, but I was still concerned. Having to don so much gear to protect us and our patients from the Covid-19 virus, I worried my hearing aids would get in the way. I have to take masks on and off and put on sterile attire to enter surgical suites and found I would often get my hearing aids caught in my hair or in the straps of masks. I also had to remove one to be able to use my stethoscope. I knew there had to be something better.

My work in the NICU involves caring for the most vulnerable of all patients. Some weigh only 600g! A mistake can be devastating. I need to be able to hear the orders from providers, the heartbeat and lung sounds of my patients, and communicate with parents efficiently.

One of the first things we do when we get to work is receive a report from another nurse, which can be very stressful because of all the normal noises around us and the sound of everyone else giving reports at the same time. I also attend high-risk deliveries and codes, which are highly stressful and do not allow for any mistakes to be made. Communication needs to be clear and precise. Meanwhile, I still had difficulty hearing at work with my BiCROS—the amount of noise from alarms, vents, oxygen tanks, etc. would get scrambled into what I was trying to hear.

I had heard about bone anchored devices but was hesitant to go into surgery again, so I worked with the BiCROS system for three months. After doing some research, I decided the bone anchored hearing system (BAHS) would be a better choice for me and had heard many good things about the new Oticon Medical Ponto™ device, the Ponto 5 Mini. It was the newest device available, and its small size led me to believe it would work better for my needs. I also really liked the idea of putting it on in the morning and just not having to think about it for the rest of the day.

I scheduled my abutment placement. I did have concerns about my sensitive skin and having a reaction, but the Oticon Medical representatives were wonderful and answered all my questions and concerns. The placement itself was super easy, and I recovered really quickly. I even ran my first half-marathon two weeks after the placement of my abutment!

A new world of sound with Ponto 5 Mini

Getting my processor was amazing. I could hear so much more and clearer, but sound was strange at first—it was tinny, and difficult to sort out sounds. I thought maybe I had made a mistake and I got really down. Sometimes I would just turn my device off, but I had read somewhere that you need to constantly wear your device so that your brain can integrate the new sounds. So I used the theory of practice makes perfect and just continued to provide opportunities for my brain to sort out the sounds I was hearing.

I like the fact that with Bluetooth® compatibility, I can just connect to my devices and not have to juggle with a hearing aid and earbuds. They also are making stethoscopes that can connect directly via Bluetooth to my Ponto. I actually am able to listen better to my patients than my hearing counterparts at times.

I have to put surgical caps on to enter surgical suites, and the small size helps make this process a lot easier. I use the OpenSound Navigator™ feature a lot in the loud NICU especially when I am working the night shift. When I get tired, it is harder to sort out sounds, and this really helps during those times.

My hair nicely covers the processor so no one can see it. It’s not that I necessarily want to hide it, I just don’t want to give anyone any reason to question my abilities. On the other hand, if I want to share, I am able to, and sometimes showing a patient that you have a disability like they do and showing it as a super-power or special ability gives them an opportunity to see themselves in a different light.

I was really surprised how little I have to worry about feedback thanks to the OpenSound Optimizer.™ I was told that it would be a big issue, especially while wearing hats, but as long as the hat or surgical cap is loose-fitting, I really don’t have any problems.

It took almost two months, but I remember one day actually forgetting that I had my Ponto 5 Mini on and that I was deaf on one side. Something had clicked. Earlier, I had told the organizer of the medical mission trips that I would not be able to go this year because I was not sure I could help anyone due to my hearing loss. After that day though, I called him up and said, “Sign me up, I’m ready.” I have now completed my second medical mission trip to Guatemala personally helping hundreds of patients—none of whom had a clue that I once struggled with hearing.

I am the cool bionic mom to my kids! They are 10 and 12 and like to talk to their mom at the same time especially when they are excited about something. My Ponto 5 Mini helps me sort out their voices and hear what they are saying even when they talk over each other.

I want someone deciding whether to get a Ponto bone anchored hearing system to know that it takes time to adjust to your device. It’s not a magic button. Like anything, it takes practice and patience. The brain is amazing, and we are fortunate to have this technology. Just don’t give up!

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This video was taken eight months post-craniotomy and two months post-BAHS implantation. My 10-year-old wanted to rock climb for his birthday, so of course I had to show them all up. I don’t wear the safety connection device, mostly because I don’t want to draw attention to myself. In the beginning of the video you can see where the rope hit the Ponto and it fell (not sure how high that is) a long, long way down. You can hear my kid’s Dad saying, “Something fell off” and my mom saying, “It’s her processor.”

Christina goes rock climbing with Ponto 5 Mini.

 Thank God there were pads underneath! I got down and clipped my processor back on and it works fine. Also, I’m an old lady so don’t judge my climbing skills (hey, I went higher than all the 10-year-olds!)

Ready to try a Ponto 5 Mini? Find a clinic near you!

Enjoying Music with Ponto

“Where words fail, music speaks.” —  Hans Christian Anderson

 Think of a favorite memory that involves music.

Perhaps it was when you attended an outdoor concert on a beautiful summer day with family and friends. Or that moment when you blasted your favorite song on the car radio with the windows down. What is it about hearing a certain song that can transport you back to a happy day in your life? Undoubtedly, music touches our hearts and minds in a way that few things can.

If you are someone with a hearing loss, music may sound different to you than it used to. Certain notes might sound flat. The lyrics of a song might be more difficult to identify. You might long to hear certain instruments in the orchestra again. Losing a connection to music is another hidden challenge presented by hearing loss presents.

In today’s world, hearing device users are fortunate to have access to technology that can make listening to music more enjoyable. If you use a Ponto™ device, let’s look at a few ways that your hearing care professional can optimize your processor to help make music sound better to you.

Ask your audiologist to make you a music program

Music is very different than speech. Music contains volume and pitch changes that don’t occur in conversational speech. A challenge for bone anchored hearing aid users is that, while their devices are designed to emphasize speech, those same pitch and volume enhancements needed to understand speech can interfere with music enjoyment.

A music program is designed to allow the hearing device to accept a wider range of frequencies and lessen noise reduction. In the Ponto 5 Mini, your clinician has access to a preset music program with settings that are guided by the latest research into listening to music through hearing devices. You can access your music program using the Oticon ON™ app paired to your smartphone by selecting it when listening to music. If you are a Ponto 3 SuperPower patient, your audiologist can create a music program that can be accessed with your Oticon Medical Streamer. If you haven’t tested a music program yet, ask your audiologist to create one for you at your next visit and listen to the difference.

Use your wireless accessories to stream music directly to your Ponto family device

Ponto hearing device users are fortunate to have access to a wealth of accessories that can help them enjoy music. Let’s talk about how you might use these wireless accessories. 

The ConnectClip

The ConnectClip™ is a multi-function accessory that is compatible with our Ponto 4 and Ponto 5 Mini devices. The ConnectClip is easily paired to your Ponto and a smartphone. You can use it to stream music from your favorite Spotify™ or Apple® Music playlist directly to your device. The music volume can be adjusted right on the ConnectClip for a hands-free listening experience.

The EduMic

The EduMic™ is widely known as a wireless accessory with educational benefits for pediatric patients. It is a one-to-many device that is capable of so much, including accepting a streaming signal from an FM transmitter in educational settings. But did you know that you can also use EduMic in “jack mode” to listen to music? If you want to enjoy music from a laptop or a wireless speaker that has a jack cable plug-in, you can plug in your EduMic and stream the audio directly to a Ponto 4 or Ponto 5 Mini. The EduMic is shipped with the 3.5 mm jack cable required, so no need to shop for anything extra. As an added bonus, the EduMic is currently offered as one of the free accessory options for patients placing a new Ponto 5 Mini order.

The Oticon Medical Streamer

For our Ponto 3 SuperPower patients, you can use your connected Oticon Medical Streamer to link to a music system, either wirelessly using Bluetooth®, or a 3.5 mm jack cable if you prefer to plug in. Worn around the patient’s neck, the Oticon Medical Streamer also offers patients an entirely hands-free music listening experience in either mode.

Take note of assistive devices available to hearing device users

Many theaters and concert halls have a telecoil loop system that allows audio to be transmitted to a hearing device using the telecoil.  A loop system uses electromagnetic energy to transmit the audio from the venue to its patrons with hearing loss. Our Ponto 3 SuperPower patients can access their telecoil with the use of the Oticon Medical Streamer. The telecoil in the streamer picks up the electromagnetic energy that is transmitted from the loop system in the room, allowing the user to access the audio from the stage directly in their device. Simply pressing the “AUX” button on the lower right side of the streamer for two seconds will activate the telecoil feature.  If you are a Ponto 5 Mini patient using the EduMic, you can use its telecoil mode to stream the telecoil signal from a theater or music venue. The next time you are seeing a concert or a play in a live theater, be sure to ask whether it is “looped”.

Enjoy music with your Ponto bone anchored hearing system

Thanks to the advanced technology in Oticon Medical devices and wireless accessories, bone anchored hearing device users have more options than ever when it comes to music enjoyment. Be sure to visit your audiologist to learn more about how you can take advantage of the options available to you.

About the author

Courtney Smith, M.A., CCC/A, is the Clinical Trainer for Oticon Medical. She in in her 19th year of practicing audiology. She has practiced in private practice and university hospital settings in Las Vegas, NV. She completed her training at the University of Iowa in 2003.

Ponto 5 Mini Informational Webinar

Are you thinking of upgrading your current processor? Do you want to learn more about Ponto 5 Mini? Now is your chance!​

We are excited to share this upcoming informational opportunity with you!

We cordially invite you to join us for an exciting Ponto 5 Mini™ informational webinar on Wednesday, March 23, 2022. This one-hour webinar, co-hosted by Oticon Medical Clinical Audiologist Carissa Moeggenberg, MA, CCC-A and Ponto 5 Mini Product Manager Michael Piskosz, MS, will introduce you to the features and benefits of our latest process, the Ponto 5 Mini, and discuss how this new technology could benefit you, our valued bone anchored hearing system wearers. We will also review how to initiate the insurance verification process for an upgrade, and what you should expect during this process, plus you’ll hear from one of our Ponto 5 Mini wearers directly about their experiences wearing the device so far.

For your convenience, we are offering this webinar at two different times:

  • 12pm Eastern Standard Time
  • 7pm Eastern Standard Time

To register for your preferred time, please use this Ponto 5 Mini informational webinar registration link. We hope to see you at one of the sessions, and encourage you to share this opportunity with anyone in your family, friends, or community network who might benefit from our latest bone anchored hearing technology!

In the meantime, please visit our website for more information about the Ponto 5 Mini.

Auditory Rehabilitation: The Importance of Developing your Listening Skills

Hearing loss can have a significant impact on your quality of life. For some people it can impact social interactions, work environment, and even activities that you used to find to be relaxing and enjoyable. The purpose of this blog post is to help you to understand that you are not alone in this journey. Depending on the type and degree of hearing loss you experience, bone anchored hearing systems along with aural rehabilitation, may help you to reduce your listening effort.

Learning to listen

Did you know that we listen with our brains rather than our ears? If you are someone experiencing hearing loss, your brain may not be getting the auditory stimulation it needs to be able to understand and comprehend speech information. Therefore, the first step in learning to listen is to make sure your brain is getting access to the sound it needs. The best way to ensure this is to work with your hearing healthcare professional to determine the type and degree of hearing loss you have and how to best treat it.

Sometimes we need more

Of course, many different factors influence outcomes with your hearing devices. One of those factors could be that your brain needs to re-learn how to listen and understand. Just like your hip might need rehabilitation if you hurt it, your brain may need some listening rehabilitation to reduce listening fatigue and improve overall understanding. We call this aural rehabilitation. You may also hear it referred to as “AR”.

What is aural rehabilitation?

Aural rehabilitation allows individuals experiencing hearing loss to learn how to use their technology and other resources to improve speech understanding, listening effort, and overall communication. According to Arthur Boothroyd[1], there are four components of aural rehabilitation:

  1. Sensory management: Treatment of the hearing loss.
  2. Instruction: Learning how to use your devices to best serve you in many different listening environments.
  3. Perceptual training: Learning how to listen and process sound through targeted therapy either provided in-person or via virtual platform.
  4. Counseling: Understanding realistic expectations.

The goal of aural rehabilitation is to improve quality of life by teaching the listener (you) how to reduce listening effort.  By reducing listening effort, you can experience improved listening stamina and even improvements in understanding when listening in different environments.

What are some benefits to doing aural rehabilitation?

Let’s face it, we are all busy. We have errands to run, kids to pick up, grandkids to play with, and Netflix® to binge! So, why put in the effort? Aural rehabilitation has been proven to improve listening outcomes from a reduction in the perception of hearing difficulties to an improvement in quality-of-life. Aural rehab can really help you to get the most out of your hearing technology.

When is the best time to start aural rehabilitation?

While research indicates that aural rehabilitation provides the most benefit within the first three months post device fit (Dornhoffer et al, 2021)[2], some form of aural rehabilitation can be beneficial to all individuals with hearing loss at any point during their hearing healthcare journey. The best time to start is now!

There are many ways in which you can pursue the different forms of aural rehabilitation. In addition to in-person therapy sessions, AR includes the use of any assistive technologies or accessories, support from friends and family, as well as training tools to help you to feel more confident no matter the listening environment. Some of these training methods include in-person therapy sessions, online training materials provided by various manufacturers, and even different phone applications that can support your hearing and listening journey. The best way for you to have an experience tailored to your needs is to discuss these therapy options with your hearing healthcare professional, so that they can determine the best ways to ensure that you have the resources you need to be successful.

About the author‌

Alicia Wooten, Au.D. CCC-A is a Senior Auditory Technical Specialist at Oticon Medical. She specializes in implantable hearing devices and has a strong passion for aural rehabilitation and its impact on patient outcomes.

[1] Boothroyd, A. (2007). Adult Aural Rehabilitation: What Is It and Does It Work? Trends in Amplification, 11(2), 63-71. https://doi.org/10.1177/1084713807301073

[2] Dornhoffer, J. R., Reddy, P., Ma, C., Schvartz-Leyzac, K. C., Dubno, J. R., & McRackan, T. R. (2021). Use of Auditory Training and Its Influence on Early Cochlear Implant Outcomes in Adults. Otology & Neurotology43(2), e165–e173. https://doi.org/10.1097/mao.0000000000003417