Category Archives: Advocacy

Man and woman standing next to each other

New Video Series: Part of the Family

We are excited to bring you a new series of blog posts in 2024. We call them “Part of the Family” because we are featuring families of young Ponto wearers and their experiences not only with Oticon Medical’s bone anchored hearing systems, but also as members of our Oticon Medical extended family of advocates.

Introducing the Bayan Family

The Bayan family includes mom Christine, dad DJ, sister Ava, and Ponto™ 5 SuperPower wearer Sean. Sean underwent a combination of ear reconstruction and our minimally invasive Ponto surgery (MIPS) about a year ago, with the goal of providing him with the best possible access to sound.* The Bayans take every opportunity to offer support to other families who might be considering a BAHS for their child by discussing Sean’s path to better hearing in testimonials and in their community. They have also enjoyed participating in Oticon Medical events where they get to spend time with other families sharing their stories and experiences in a supportive environment.

Open Up Your Child’s World

When your child has a hearing loss, early access to clear, high-quality sound can give them more opportunities to learn and grow—and to engage with all life has to offer. Learn more about our Ponto 5 family of hearing processors and all the ways in which they might benefit your child.

* Ponto surgery is contraindicated for patients under 5 years of age. Not all hearing loss patients are candidates for a bone anchored solution. Patient candidacy and aspects relating to implant
installation are based on individual patient assessment. Outcomes and healing times vary patient to patient. Please consult your hearing care professional. Testimonials represent the opinion of the 
concerned individuals only and may not be the experience of others.

National Microtia & Atresia Awareness Day 2023

Microtia and Atresia: A Primer

We are excited to promote National Microtia and Atresia Awareness Day on November 9! This annual day was established to inform the public about microtia (literal translation: “little ear”) and atresia (absence or closure of the ear canal), their impact on those who have one or both conditions, and potential treatments, including bone anchored hearing systems (BAHS) for associated hearing loss. This day also allows us to celebrate those who advocate on behalf of themselves and loved ones to be treated with understanding, kindness, and respect.

The following is provided as a primer. You can use it to better understand these conditions and to educate others.

What is microtia?

Microtia is a condition that occurs the first trimester of fetal development that causes one or both ears to only partially develop or not develop at all. In some cases, it is accompanied by atresia, which describes ear canals that are either underdeveloped or nonexistent. Many people with microtia also have craniofacial microsomia, which affects facial symmetry and involves differences related to the jaw and general appearance.

How many types of microtia are there?

Microtia is classified according to the following four types:

  • Type 1: Smaller-than-average external ear (pinna) with functioning hearing organs
  • Type 2: Only part of the pinna developed and is undersized
  • Type 3: Very little of the ear exists or functions
  • Type 4: Complete absence of an external ear

Is microtia inherited?

The condition may run in some families, but far more often there is no prior family history. Based on current scientific data about microtia, with and without atresia, it is usually a random occurrence affecting embryos during their early development.

However, in a handful of cases, microtia has been found to affect members in multiple generations of a family, although it sometimes skips generations. Having one child with microtia increases the risk of having another by 5 percent. The likelihood of someone with microtia having a child with the same condition also increases by 5 percent.

How common is microtia?

Microtia, with and without atresia, occurs in approximately 1-5 births out of every 10,000 in the United States. It affects children assigned male at birth more frequently than those assigned female. It most often affects the right ear. Studies have indicated that it occurs more frequently in people of Asian, South American, and Western European descent, but is rarer in those of  African descent.

How does microtia affect hearing ability?

For many people with microtia, it only affects appearance and not hearing ability, so long as they have a functioning ear canal and inner ear organs (i.e., a working cochlea). However, for those with atresia, partial or complete hearing loss may result in the affected ear(s).

What options are available for people with microtia?

Some parents may elect reconstructive surgery for a child missing most or all of their outer ear for cosmetic reasons. This may involve using the child’s own tissue and cartilage, synthetic materials, or a combination to create as realistic appearing an ear as possible.

If enough of a child’s ear canal exists, it may be possible to open it with surgery, thus enabling at least some hearing. If there is no ear canal or surgery to the ear is otherwise not an option, a BAHS (bone anchored hearing system) may be recommended to provide hearing ability.* This might be a bilateral (two-sided) system if both ears are affected or unilateral (single-sided) if only one ear is affected. A full BAHS consists of a small titanium implant screw placed in the skull bone, and a skin-penetrating abutment onto which a sound processor is affixed. Alternately, sound processors can be worn on a soft or hard band without surgery.

For more information about microtia and atresia, including National Microtia and Atresia Day,  please visit www.earcommunity.org.

For more about bone conduction hearing treatments like the Ponto BAHS, please visit www.oticonmedical.com/us.

* Implantation of bone anchored hearing system implants is contraindicated for children under 5 years of age. Not all hearing loss patients are candidates for a bone anchored solution.

US Press Release: Announcing the Third Annual Good Vibrations Day | Bone Anchored Awareness Day

Somerset, NJ.  Oticon Medical will once again celebrate Good Vibrations Day on May 3, 2023. This marks the third year since the company founded this non-branded celebration to raise awareness of bone conduction hearing treatment, which is also known as Bone Anchored Awareness Day. By opening the celebration to all bone conduction device manufacturers, audiology professionals, and wearers, the hope is that more people who could benefit from this hearing solution will learn about its benefits worldwide.

May 3 was selected specifically because it is the birthday of Per-Ingvar Brånemark, a Swedish physician and research professor known as the father of osseointegration, and the godfather of bone anchored hearing. His discoveries enabled the development of modern bone conduction hearing devices.

Wearers first joined the celebration of Good Vibrations Day in 2021 by sharing video clips, photos, and stories depicting their lives with a bone anchored hearing system. They have continued to share their experiences with others year-round, helping to spread the word about bone conduction as an effective treatment for certain forms of hearing loss.

“For over 10 years I lived unaided and was miserable,” said wearer Ross W. “I would often sit with others and just smile because I was lost by the conversations going on around me. I never could tell what anyone was saying, so it created a disconnect. But when I got my first bone anchored hearing system, I was out in the open talking to everyone rather than in a corner. I was also smiling a lot because I was engaged. It changed everything!”

Bone conduction describes having sound vibrations conducted into the cochlea via the skull. Bone anchored hearing systems use this process, bypassing missing or damaged portions of the wearer’s outer or middle ear and sending vibrations via the skull directly into the inner ear. From there, they can be processed by the brain as sound.

Currently, more than 250,000 people from all over the world use some form of a bone conduction hearing device. Good Vibrations Day celebrates them and their treatment—regardless of brand—by providing an opportunity and encouragement to share their experiences with this life-changing hearing technology.

“Oticon Medical knows that sound matters,” said René Govaerts, General Manager at Oticon Medical. “We launched Good Vibrations Day in 2021 and have continued to celebrate it annually because it is an important way to raise awareness about the benefits of bone conduction. Many people around the world still don’t know that bone anchored hearing systems are options for addressing their conductive or single-sided hearing losses. We will proudly continue to do whatever we can, in partnership with other manufacturers, hearing healthcare professionals, and current wearers, to spread the word about this effective treatment option.”

Leading up to and including May 3, Oticon Medical will be celebrating Good Vibrations Day around the world by sharing information, videos and photos from wearers, holding contests, and more through its social media platforms. As a non-branded awareness day, the company invites other bone anchored brands to join in the celebration by sharing content and organizing celebrations of their own.

Good Vibrations Day posts, stories, tweets, reels, etc. can be shared by all using the #GoodVibrations and #BoneAnchoredHearing hashtags. They can also be viewed and shared via the official Good Vibrations Day Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/boneanchoredhearing. Hearing healthcare professionals and wearers alike are encouraged to join the Good Vibrations Day Facebook Page.

About Oticon Medical

All our passion, knowledge, technology, and global resources are aimed at supporting professionals and helping users overcome their hearing loss so they can live full lives – now and in the future. Because we know how much sound matters.

More information can be found at www.oticonmedical.com/US

College Student. Videographer. New Ponto 5 SuperPower User.

Lindsey was born with single-sided deafness due to microtia and atresia. Little did she know that answering an ad to record testimonials for Oticon Medical would lead to discovering an effective treatment for her own unilateral hearing loss: the Ponto™ 5 SuperPower bone anchored hearing processor! In this testimonial video — which Lindsey directed herself! — she shares how the unexpected discovery of the Ponto device is supporting her education and career aspirations.

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I never knew any different when it came to what I could hear versus what my peers and family could hear. My biggest problem has always been with the direction of sound. I usually have to watch people talk to fully understand what they are saying.  When I talk with people, I make sure they are on my left side so I can hear them. Otherwise, the sound gets mixed in with other noise.

When I was 15, I tried my first implant. Although it increased the volume of sounds, I couldn’t tell which direction sound was coming from in very standard locations and situations. It actually made it more overwhelming trying to understand what everyone was saying because it made everything louder without any distinction. I would get headaches after wearing it for a few hours because it was magnetic.

I am currently in college for film production, and I plan to focus on screenwriting and directing.  That being said, I do love videography and cinematography, and getting to begin videography work in a corporate setting has been an amazing opportunity.

I was asked if I wanted to apply for a videography position for Oticon Medical to make testimonials for the Ponto 5 SuperPower. I didn’t tell them I had microtia and atresia until I traveled for the first testimonial. Now I know so many people who also have microtia and atresia or children with microtia and atresia, and I had an amazing summer creating testimonials, improving my craft, and making wonderful connections.

One of the Oticon Medical audiologists offered to let me try the Ponto 5 SuperPower. I could hear distinct sounds coming from both sides, and the volume of things made sense regarding their position from me. It was surreal, yet so natural. It took me a few days to get used to it, but I was delighted with how natural yet powerful everything sounded.

Hearing Tips to Make Sure Everyone Enjoys the Holidays

It’s that time of year again, when you join family and friends to celebrate the holidays. But if you are hard of hearing, it might be a challenge to enjoy the hustle and bustle fully. A noisy dinner conversation can leave you exhausted by the effort spent trying to understand what everyone is saying.

With that in mind, we’d like to share some tips to help make communication easier and the season more enjoyable for everyone regardless of hearing ability. We encourage you to share these with your loved ones, so that they know how to make you feel fully included this season, and all year ’round.

Face the person to whom you are speaking

Ensure that someone with hearing loss can see your face. The visual cues will help them understand any words they might have missed.

Minimize background noise

Turn off the TV during mealtime. Lower the volume on any music playing in the background or turn it off entirely.

Make sure the room is well-lit

This makes it easier for the hard-of-hearing person to read lips and see facial expressions and body language around the room.

Get the individual’s attention before speaking

Say the name of the person to whom you are speaking first or gently tap their arm. Once you have their attention, begin speaking and you are likelier to be heard and understood.

Speak slowly and clearly

Annunciate each word and don’t speak so quickly that your words all run together.

Don’t just repeat – rephrase 

If the person you are speaking to says, “What?” or otherwise indicates they didn’t hear what you said, don’t just repeat the same thing more loudly, try saying it a different way. Typically, the issue the person has understanding you is not volume, but clarity.

Oticon Medical’s OpenSound Navigator can make hearing easier

Oticon Medical has developed OpenSound Navigator™ as a method of noise reduction and it can help you participate more fully in conversations around your holiday dinner table. In this situation, you want to hear the conversation, regardless of its direction. OpenSound Navigator seamlessly adjusts to your environment and reduces the effort it takes to hear.

Talk to your audiologist about creating a program in your Ponto™ 5 Mini or Ponto 5 SuperPower sound processor that utilizes OpenSound Navigator and enjoy the difference it makes this season. Additionally, you can hand a paired ConnectClip™ to a friend or relative across the table. Their voice can be streamed directly into your Ponto 5 device from up to 65 feet away!

            Oticon Medical wishes you and your family a happy and healthy holiday season!

Student. Intern. Artist. Sarah is Grateful for Her Ponto 5 SuperPowers

Oticon Medical advocate and recent summer intern Sarah Sabal shares her experience before and after upgrading to Ponto™ 5 SuperPower bone conduction hearing devices.

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Born with Microtia and Atresia, I grew up in a seemingly busy world that, to me, was quiet. It was like watching a silent movie of people living their everyday life. As a young child, I eventually developed my thoughts and emotions through my artwork—a form of visual communication.

Later, when I got adopted in 2007, I was aided at the age of 8 with my first hard-wired bone anchored hearing devices on a headband. At first, I was shocked to hear for the first time, but later on, I had discomfort from wearing my hard-wired headband for a prolonged time, with addition to constant feedback. In 2013, I started wearing Ponto devices, and I now wear the Ponto 5 SuperPower.

I received multiple scholarships before going to college. I was awarded two government scholarships in Critical Language Scholarship funded by the State Department, and Boren Awards by the National Security. In addition, I have received multiple awards in art contests and been on RIT’s Dean’s List for having a GPA higher than 3.40.

Going to college, I was so grateful that I could do well in classes and make new friends. Wearing my Ponto 5 SuperPower processors allow me to hear the surrounding environment through OpenSound Navigator™ (full 360-degree soundscape). Most of the time, I use my ConnectClip™ to stream music, videos, and Zoom calls through my laptop, and EduMic™ to hear my professors in classroom settings.

I recently worked with Oticon Medical as a summer Digital Marketing intern. The resources provided by my college (RIT) and Oticon Medical gave me the opportunity to achieve success. My motivation and career plan are to pursue Marketing with the ability to speak Chinese for future opportunities. I am currently studying abroad in Taiwan under my Boren Awards scholarship.

I hope my motivation and determination to succeed despite my deafness will encourage others that anything is possible when you have a positive mindset!

Mother. Student. Advocate. Camilla Juggles It All with Ponto 5 SuperPower

Camilla Gilbert has faced many obstacles in life, including bilateral microtia/atresia with hearing loss and other challenges. Yet nothing has deterred her from helping others and advancing her education. Now she is doing it all with support from her Ponto™ 5 SuperPower bone anchored hearing devices.

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I had heard about many people with Ponto 5 SuperPower devices and wanted to try them. I heard that it was terrific regarding the sound quality, power, and feedback reduction.

Before I went back to school for my Masters in Social Work (MSW), I went to school to learn about Deaf culture and history, and ASL. What motivated me to return to school was to become a role model for myself, my daughter, and the communities I knew I would serve one day. I want to help and support people who feel like there is no hope in the Deaf/hard of hearing communities and the disabled community. I am currently pursuing my Doctor of Education degree in Educational Leadership.

My experience wearing a Ponto to school as an adult compared to going to a school as a kid without treatment is different. I’m able to understand more clearly. I can not only hear the professors, but participate in dialogue with my classmates.

Wearing the Ponto 5 SuperPower is also helping me achieve my goals as an employee, since I’m very new to my position. I can hear my colleagues whispering in their office with the door closed. Maybe we have thin walls, but before this new Ponto 5 SuperPower, I could not hear the whispering!

With Ponto 5 SP, I can communicate in a social situations, such as at a restaurant, in meetings, and at various appointments. Before, I struggled with understanding what people were saying in social situations. Now I can engage more without listening fatigue.

My hearing journey hasn’t been easy. However, this journey is who I am and will always be. Life is what you make out of it, so we must embrace our differences, weirdness, disabilities, and technology. Without technologies from Oticon Medical, which believes that Sound Matters, I wouldn’t understand hearing health’s quality and importance. If you are at a crossroads in your hearing journey, I suggest you do your research about Ponto 5 SuperPower.

Isla Feels More Confident Than Ever with New Ponto 5 SuperPowers

Katelyn Harkins tells us how getting fit bilaterally with Ponto 5™ SuperPower processors have helped her eight-year-old daughter Isla blossom socially.

Isla was born with bilateral microtia/atresia. She was adopted from China at 20 months old and had no access to sound prior to coming home. She received Ponto bone anchored hearing processors on a softband as loaners from Oticon Medical the month she turned two and loved them immediately. She even insisted on wearing them to nap!

We are privileged enough to have access to excellent hearing solutions from Oticon Medical, which give Isla a near normal audiogram. We are also lucky to have a school for the Deaf nearby, which gives Isla access to education provided in both spoken English and American Sign Language (ASL).

We were very excited to hear OM was coming out with a Ponto 5 SuperPower! Isla’s hearing loss is severe enough that the extra headroom of the SuperPower allows for access to as much sound as possible, and equally little feedback. Isla was thrilled that the upgrade gave her onboard controls for volume and mute.

Isla’s upgrade included getting bilaterally implanted*. In researching implantation, I understood minimally invasive Ponto surgery (MIPS) was minimally invasive compared to the old “long cut” or “pocket” methods: one hole punched in the skin, one hole drilled and filled with a tiny screw. I brought my research to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) ENT and Isla was his first MIPS surgery. He expressed that he loved the process and was very impressed with the how easily it went. In this video, (Isla was still waiting six months to “snap on” her processors because her skull bones are thin).

The Ponto 5 SPs are amazing!  My daughter has loved her devices from the beginning, and we always made them fun by having a bunch of different colored softbands to choose from each morning. She has absolutely blossomed in public and more crowded situations with the upgrade to P5 SPs. She’s more willing to get out there and play or join a group of kids she doesn’t know. Absolutely worth it!

* Ponto surgery is contraindicated for patients under 5 years of age. The subject here is shown wearing two ponto 5 superpowers on a softband but has undergone the surgery stated by the parent. Outcomes and healing times wary patient to patient. Please consult your caregiver.

Professional. Sport Enthusiast. Ponto 5 SuperPower Wearer

Advocate Jay Wiecheta wants you to know how Ponto™ 5 SuperPower supports his busy, active lifestyle. 

Jay Wietecha lost the hearing in his right ear at the end of July 2018 due to a 1.8 cm acoustic neuroma that was surgically removed. Despite his surgeons’ best efforts to leave the hearing nerve intact, it still went out and he was left with single-sided deafness (SSD).

Jay spoke to a treatment coordinator post-op who also happened to have become deaf on one side following removal of an acoustic neuroma. She was a Ponto user and advised Jay that it was his best option and worth looking into. In October of 2018, Jay went through the minimally invasive Ponto surgery (MIPS) and had his first Ponto activated in November of that year.

Jay was inspired by his coordinator’s advocacy to pay it forward and advocate for others who might benefit from bone anchored hearing technology. He shares, “As an active member of the Acoustic Neuroma Association, I have been involved with several support groups over the years in which I openly share my experiences and successes with others who are on the same journey, including my decision to have a bone anchored hearing device. I have developed a close relationship with my local ENT who originally diagnosed my tumor and have shared with him how well my device has improved the quality of life, so he can help his patients become informed of the benefits. I often have open discussions with my own patients about the many benefits to having a Ponto and how well it has served me. Whenever someone asks me about the device, even when I’m out in public, I will stop and chat with even strangers about how great the device is and how it benefits me.”

Recently, Jay decided it was time to upgrade to the new Ponto 5 SuperPower. The following are his thoughts and experiences with a device he says has, “A very vibrant and robust sound quality!”

A User Shares His Thoughts after Upgrading to Ponto 5 SuperPower

Steffen upgraded from the Ponto™ 3 SuperPower to the new Ponto 5 SuperPower to treat his single-sided deafness recently. The following are his thoughts, which he kindly gave us permission to share.

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I am still very happy with my Ponto SuperPower 5. It continues to remain superior to my old Ponto 3 SP. Notably, the ambient background sound is much more naturally quiet. The Ponto 3 SP had more background noises that made it obvious that I was wearing a hearing device. For the Ponto 5SP, I often have to double-check that it’s even on if it’s quiet in the room or outside. Happily, I’m just confirming that it’s just really quiet in the room or outside vs. a dead battery, etc. On an especially windy day outside, I might switch to “Comfort” mode, but usually it’s not really required.

I’m deaf in my right ear. In a busy, noisy setting, I tend to cock my left ear in the direction of the noise I’m  trying to hear but seem to be hearing just fine when walking with someone on my right side. There’s always room for technology improvement in my mind. I’d even be interested in a hearing system that makes me hear better than someone with two good ears!

I really like utilizing my iPhone® with the Ponto 5 SP for work meetings and phone calls. I do not tend to use the accessory (Oticon ConnectClip™), which is designed to do something similar on my Android™ phone.  When I’m using the iPhone, I can’t even tell if the sound is external or internal!

Cosmetically, I do like that the Ponto 5 SuperPower processor is smaller than the Ponto 3 SP. Not that big of a deal for me, but in the future, I would be interested in a Ponto that is even smaller and less noticeable out in public. If there is a way to develop one that is flush with my head and does not stick out as much, that would be nice as well. Bottom line is that I’m a very happy customer already but am open to even further improvements.

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Are you ready to upgrade to our latest SuperPower technology? Find out how: Ponto 5 SuperPower Upgrade.