James Wolff is 71-years-old and has experienced hearing loss for years. In the past, he wore bilateral hearing aids, however, because of drainage in his left ear, he often had to remove the hearing aid which left him with poor hearing on his left side. His daughter, Kimberlee Griffey who has worked at Oticon Medical for 7 years, recounts bringing her bone anchored hearing equipment to Christmas every year for her father to try.
“I’d bring a demo, a softband, and a Streamer to Christmas, just wanting to test him, but he would say he didn’t need it. Then last Christmas he finally said ‘I think I’m ready for the procedure’.” – Kimberlee Griffey
James had surgery to get his abutment placed in June 2017 with Dr. James Benecke at Missouri Baptist Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. Dr. Benecke has been working with bone anchored hearing systems (BAHS) for 14 years. He says that for many patients with conductive or mixed hearing loss who cannot have their hearing corrected surgically and cannot use hearing aids because of ear canal and drainage issues, a BAHS is a great option.
When considering a BAHS for his patients, Dr. Benecke investigates and explains all available options. He recommends that his patients talk with other patients who wear different devices, checks insurance options and has patients trial the BAHS on a softband. If an audiometric evaluation is unclear as to whether a person might be a good candidate for the Ponto, he works with Oticon Medical representatives to help with identifying potential candidates when an evaluation might be unclear.
“I always give patients their options and have them chat with people who have tried different systems. Overall, my patient population does better with bone anchored hearing systems as opposed to a CROS hearing aid.” – Dr. Benecke
For James’s procedure, Dr. Benecke performed the Minimally Invasive Ponto Surgery (MIPS). MIPS is a procedure that takes 10-15 minutes and is normally carried out under local anesthetic. He mentions that when someone says the word surgery, most patients have pre-conceived thoughts about what is involved.
“No one wants to have surgery, but if there is an opportunity to improve an aspect of someone’s health by doing a procedure that someone is well informed about and has good outcomes, then people need to know about it so they can make the best-informed decision.” – Dr. Benecke
“When people first think of surgery they think long recovery time—a long time in the operating room. I tell people that with the MIPS procedure it’s less than an hour, outpatient procedure. My dad had no pain whatsoever. It was life-changing for him. My advice is not to wait because you don’t know what you’re missing.” – Kimberlee Griffey
This past September, James was activated with his Ponto 3 SuperPower and the results have been life-changing.
“Before he described sounds as muffled. Now it is loud and clear. His volume of speech has significantly decreased because now he can monitor his own speech, where he was not able to do this before. He drives a lot and he’s able to put the microphone on his grandkids and he can hear them in the back seat. He also loves using his Streamer to connect to his phone, TV, and laptop. It has opened a whole new world and I am so very grateful that he is able to get the best of life in his golden years.” – Kimberlee Griffey
As awareness continues to grow around bone anchored hearing and the MIPS procedure, Dr. Benecke says he will continue to advocate for bone anchored hearing because ‘the results speak for themselves’.
“The first thing my dad said after he was fit with his Ponto was ‘why didn’t you tell me about this earlier?’” – Kimberlee Griffey