Monthly Archives: May 2024

Bone Anchored Hearing Systems: When Hearing Aids Aren’t Enough

A Message for Veterans with Hearing Loss

Many veterans experience hearing loss due to physical trauma endured while on duty. Many of these losses may be treatable with traditional hearing aids. However, some forms of hearing loss—typically involving damage to the outer ear, ear canal, or other physical components—may not be. Yet many vets are unaware that they have options beyond regular hearing aids, such as bone anchored hearing systems (BAHS).

If you served your country, you may qualify to receive coverage from the government for a BAHS. Read on to learn more about this advanced treatment and whether it might be the solution you need.

Types of Hearing Loss Commonly Experienced by Veterans

More than 1.3 million US veterans receive disability compensation for hearing loss. Considering how frequently military personnel are exposed to extremely loud sounds for extended periods, including explosions, weapons fire, military air-and-seacrafts, and more, it is no surprise that so many experience noise-induced hearing damage, aka sensorineural hearing loss. This form of hearing loss is most often treated with traditional, air conduction hearing aids—the removable devices worn either in the ear or behind the ear.

However, hearing losses related to physical injuries typically require an alternative treatment that utilizes bone conduction to improve hearing ability. Known as conductive hearing losses, these may result from the loss of the pinna (outer ear), damage or loss of the ear canal, or similar injuries. Those with single-sided deafness—whether due to sensorineural or conductive hearing loss—may also experience better results from bone conduction.

Bone Anchored Hearing Systems Aid Certain Service-Related Hearing Losses

As mentioned above, bone anchored hearing treatment utilizes bone conduction to improve hearing ability. While regular hearing aids go in or on the ear to receive, amplify, and clarify sound, BAHS are worn on small, implanted posts called abutments near the ear. Bone conduction may be a viable option if your cochlea (inner ear) is still intact and functional.

A processor that receives sound is snapped onto the abutment a few weeks following implantation. This device transmits sound via unnoticeable vibrations through your skull bone, bypassing the damaged or missing portions of your ear, directly into the cochlea. The sound is then sent to your brain for normal processing as comprehensible speech, music, or other sounds.

Next Steps for Vets Interested in Bone Conduction

If you think your hearing loss might be treatable with a BAHS, your first step should be to contact your local Veterans Administration and schedule an appointment with an audiology professional. Depending on your past service, you might qualify for free or reduced-cost hearing healthcare, including diagnosis and treatment. You may also qualify for monthly disability compensation payments, tax-free. Please note that if you don’t live near a VA hearing clinic or the wait is extensive, you might be able to utilize VA Community Care to see a local hearing healthcare provider.

To find out which benefits you qualify for, please contact your local VA medical center representative.

Oticon Medical Ponto System for Veterans

Oticon Medical offers bone anchored hearing solutions that are used by wearers all over the world to help them overcome hearing loss at home, work, and in social situations. For more information on our minimally invasive Ponto™ surgery for implantation of an abutment and our most current technology, the Ponto 5 family of hearing processors, please visit our website.

Tips for Traveling Safely this Summer with Your Ponto

Since many of you will be traveling this summer, we want to share this updated post of tips for traveling with your Ponto™ bone anchored hearing system (BAHS). Even when not traveling, you might want to download the MRI Safety Security card just to have on hand, in case you find yourself in need of an MRI scan.

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Airport and TSA security

It is important to advise the TSA agent prior to going through the security or x-ray process that you have an implantable device. At this time, you may consider handing or showing them your MRI Safety Security card. If you don’t have a card or can’t find it, you can download the MRI Safety Card from our website. Cards are available there in different languages, along with other helpful informational materials. We recommend printing or saving the card to your phone prior to travel.

As you prepare for your trip, another great resource to check out is Oticon Medical’s Tips and Tricks section of the website.  In this section you will find information and advice on everyday activities with your Ponto system.

Additional Ponto device and abutment safety considerations

The abutment is made from titanium and safe to go through the metal detector or x-ray machine. Since titanium is weakly magnetic, the security system’s alarm will most likely not go off. However, it is still a good idea and important to let the TSA agent know ahead of time about your Ponto and implant in the event that additional screening is necessary after your initial pass through the x-ray process.

As for your Ponto processor, since it does contain a magnet, this may set off an alarm. We always recommend that when exposed to medical-strength x-ray you remove your processor to prevent damage. However, TSA screenings have low dose x-ray exposure and are safe to move through. So, if you forget to take it off there is no harm, but you may set off the alarm as the Ponto processor contains metal.

If you choose to take off your Ponto processor, simply put it in a case with the battery door open and in a TSA container for the belt screening, as you do your other carry-on items. This is safe for the processor and will not cause damage.

Items to bring on a trip with your Ponto processor

When traveling with your Ponto, you want to make sure you have packed all your equipment and extra supplies. It is a good idea to bring extra batteries, your wireless accessories, and the appropriate cables for charging them. Consider charging your accessories the night or day before you leave to ensure you can use them while traveling.

It is also important to pack your Ponto Care Kit for cleaning the abutment. Daily care of the abutment site will help guarantee you can use your Ponto BAHS throughout your travels. Abutment cleaning is especially important if you are swimming. Remember, your Ponto processor is not waterproof! If you need a new dry aid kit or Ponto Care Kit, don’t worry; contact your local Oticon Medical Customer Service department and have supplies sent directly to your home.

You can also have Ponto-related information at your fingertips by downloading the Oticon Medical Ponto Care™ App to your smartphone, so you can travel with ease and peace of mind. Remember to also store your audiologist’s or clinic’s office information in your phone or have it written in your care kit in case you have questions–or contact your local Oticon Medical office.

Finally, if you are traveling somewhere hot, you should remember not to leave your Ponto sound processor, wireless accessories, or batteries out in extreme weather elements. For example, if you leave your Ponto sound processor on the car dashboard in extreme heat, it could damage the device.

Here’s a quick checklist of the items we discussed. Enjoy your travels, wherever they may take you!

Helpful site to review prior to travel:

Disabilities and Medical Conditions | Transportation Security Administration (tsa.gov). Choose External Medical Devices and/or the Implants/internal medical devices for more advice.