Category Archives: Community

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.

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

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.

Bone Anchored vs. Air Conduction Hearing Aids

Which hearing treatment is right for me?

When you make the decision to address your hearing loss or seek treatment for your child, it always helps to know what options are available. These days you can find a wider variety of hearing loss treatments than ever before, which is great… except, how do you know which one would work best for you or your child?

When it comes to deciding between traditional hearing aids—removable, non-surgically implanted devices—and bone anchored hearing systems, we’d like to help you with your initial research. Please note that ultimately only a hearing care professional can diagnose your hearing loss and recommend which option would best suit you or your child. However, it is always better to go into your initial consultation understanding and feeling prepared to discuss the choices presented.

What are air conduction hearing aids?

Oticon Hearing Aid

Air conduction, or traditional hearing aids, are devices you can purchase from an audiology clinic, and once they have been delivered to the office and fitted to your hearing needs and preferences, worn right out the door. They may be fitted by an audiologist or a hearing instrument specialist in a private office, clinic, “big box” store, or hospital setting.

After purchase, the average wearer should expect periodic in-person follow-up visits with their hearing care provider for adjustments to settings and programs, although some professionals might offer remote follow-ups for minor tweaks, troubleshooting, and adjustments.

Hearing aids are available in behind-the-ear (BTE), receiver-in-canal (RIC), and in-the-ear (ITE) models of varying sizes, some of which are nearly invisible (for wearers who prefer a discreet solution) and other that are larger and more visible (for those who find them easier to handle and don’t care about others seeing their devices).

Some modern hearing aids come loaded with additional features, including therapeutic sounds meant to counteract the annoying “ringing in the ear” known as tinnitus, accessory-routed or direct audio streaming, and rechargeability. The downside is that the more bells-and-whistles that you use, the shorter your battery life, with most users finding they have to replace their batteries weekly or recharge nightly. The overall life expectancy of the hearing aid itself is an average of three to seven years.

Hearing aids are most often used to treat people with sensorineural hearing loss, which involves issues with the inner ear and/or neural pathways from the inner ear to your brain. Sensorineural hearing issues may be caused by one or more of the following:

  • Exposure to extremely loud noise
  • Presbycusis (i.e., age-related hearing loss)
  • A malformed or damaged inner ear
  • Use of ototoxic (literally “ear poisoning”) medication
  • Genetic/inherited conditions that affect hearing
  • Illnesses and disease (e.g., meningitis, diabetes)

Unfortunately most private and public health insurers do not cover the cost of hearing aids as of this writing. The average price for a hearing aid is around $1,000 for a very basic model up to $5,000-plus for a high-end option. Keep in mind that audiology professionals usually recommend wearers use two hearing aids to gain the full benefit of binaural (two ear) hearing, which is how the brain naturally takes in and processes sound. And while options such as CROS (Contralateral Routing of Signal) and BiCROS (Bilateral CROS) hearing aids can help people with single-sided deafness (SSD) hear sounds by routing them from the device worn on the non-hearing ear to the full or partially hearing ear, some wearers find them insufficient.

What are bone conduction hearing aids?

Bone conduction hearing devices are designed to treat conductive hearing loss, which occurs when sound cannot travel through the outer and/or middle ear (usually due to physical blockage or missing all or a portion of the ear). Examples include the following:

  • Microtia, (underdeveloped or missing outer ear) with or without atresia (missing or closed ear canal)
  • Damage due to otitis media (middle ear infection) or external otitis (ear canal infection)
  • Perforated or missing eardrum
  • Tumors affecting the eighth cranial nerve or blocking the outer or middle ear (the surgery to remove these tumors may also cause conductive hearing loss)
  • Missing or fused stapes (three tiny bones in the ear required for sound conduction)

They can also be an effective option for mixed hearing losses for those who experience a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing difficulties.

Bone anchored hearing systems are typically purchased from an otolaryngologist (aka, “ear-nose-throat” doctor, or ENT) at a clinic or hospital, or once you have had the implant surgery (alternately, if you are only wearing the device on a softband or headband), directly from the manufacturer. To receive maximum hearing assistance, they are meant to be surgically implanted. Bone anchored hearing systems consist of an implant, which is the portion implanted into your skull (typically behind your ear), an abutment, which is the transcutaneous portion fixed onto the implant, and the processor, which is programmable and gets snapped onto the abutment a few weeks following implantation.

Esthetically, the only difference between most bone anchored hearing devices is shape and size depending on the manufacturer. The majority are built for discretion, but wearers can choose to show off their bone anchored devices by adding colorful skins and stickers.

Once the processor is fit, wearers might require an occasional follow-up for adjustments, but normally fewer than the typical hearing aid wearer—and some may not require your physical presence but rather that you send in your processor for adjustment or repair by mail. As with regular hearing aids, a few hearing care professionals might offer a remote care option as well.

When it comes to extra features, bone anchored hearing processors continue to evolve. Some include audio streaming options via an intermediary streaming accessory, app, or directly into the processor. Rechargeability and tinnitus therapies may become available in the future based on demand and manufacturing capabilities. Bone anchored hearing devices are extremely effective for treating single-sided deafness (SSD) and don’t require use of a second device to improve hearing ability. In fact it is less common for bone anchored wearers to need two devices to enjoy significantly improved hearing than for traditional hearing aid wearers.

As for insurance coverage, the good news is that implantable hearing devices are categorized as medical devices, unlike traditional hearing aids, and as such are often covered all or in part by private and public insurance providers. So, while the retail price per device averages around $3,000-$6,000, you’re less likely to have to pay that much out-of-pocket.

When you’re ready to treat your hearing loss

We hope the information provided here will help you make the best possible decision for your specific hearing healthcare needs. If you are ready to speak to a hearing care professional in your area who includes bone anchored hearing systems among their treatment options, you can visit our handy Find a Clinic tool on our website.

Craniofacial Conditions and their Effects on Hearing

Unlike regular hearing aid wearers whose hearing loss is usually the result of exposure to loud noises, ototoxic (literally “ear poisoning”) drugs, or presbycusis (age-related hearing loss) most bone anchored hearing aid wearers are missing parts of their ears. Some are born without the internal components, such as their cochlea or ear canal, or have parts that are damaged. Others only have small portions of their pinna (outer ear) or don’t have an ear at all.

We feel it is important to provide information and insight into these rare conditions and how they affect hearing. Raising awareness will hopefully help those affected feel less alone, encourage understanding and compassion from others, and broaden knowledge of bone anchored hearing as a possible alternative to the hearing loss associated with these conditions.

Microtia (with or without Atresia)

Microtia (literally “little ear”) is a condition that occurs during the first trimester of pregnancy, which is when development of the ears should occur. The pinna (outer ear) is either underdeveloped, only partially present (e.g., just the earlobe), or nonexistent. This condition might only affect one ear or both and is often—but not always—accompanied by another condition, atresia. Typically, atresia refers to having an extremely narrow or missing ear canal.

While microtia, with or without atresia, may occur without any associated or underlying syndrome, it often appears as one of the multiple indications of the following conditions.

Treacher Collins Syndrome

This genetic disorder causes underdevelopment or malformation of various parts of the head, including eyes, cheekbones, jaws, mouth, and palate. People with Treacher Collins often experience hearing loss when the inner and/or outer parts of their ears are affected by microtia and/or atresia. They might also have conductive hearing loss due to issues with their middle ears that limit or prevent sound waves from traveling to the brain.

Craniofacial Microsomia

This is often used as an umbrella term to cover multiple conditions, including hemifacial microsomia, which is characterized by underdevelopment of one side of the head and face affecting the jaw, mouth, and ears and Goldenhar syndrome, which often affects the eyes, ears, and spine. These and similar conditions may be inherited but often simply occur spontaneously without any family history of the disorders. Again microtia, with or without atresia, is common with these conditions, as are issues with damaged or missing middle ear components.

Apert Syndrome

Often caused by a random and spontaneous genetic mutation, this syndrome results when the “seams” between the bones of the skull close prematurely during fetal development. Those affected usually have a pointed or extended skull and malformations of the face, hands, and feet. The condition is often associated with conductive hearing loss in both ears due to fused ossicles (the tiny bones in the middle ear). Chronic ear infections are also often common. Other syndromes related to Apert syndrome involving hearing loss include Crouzon and Saethre-Chotzen.

Velocardiofacial Syndrome

This disorder results when a child is born missing part of Chromosome 22. It is also known by other names (e.g., DiGeorge syndrome, Catch-22 syndrome). Usually there is no family history of Velocardiofacial syndrome, although it can be inherited from either parent. Multiple symptoms may occur (although usually not all at once), including otitis media (chronic middle ear infections). Additionally, conductive hearing loss from a variety of abnormalities in the middle and/or inner ear have been reported as prevalent among people with this syndrome.

Treatment for conductive hearing losses due to syndromes

Hearing loss associated with a craniofacial condition is often conductive in nature, meaning there is a physical cause like a missing or nonfunctional portion of the ear. Some may be surgically reparable, as in a case where an ear canal is present, but the opening is sealed. Others would be best addressed by a bone anchored hearing system like Ponto™, which bypasses the damaged or missing ear entirely to conduct sound via the skull.

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.

 

 

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!

Face Mask Alternatives for People without Ears

For many of us, the most challenging part of the CDC’s latest recommendation that everyone should wear a face mask* when going out during the Covid-19 epidemic is finding (or making) masks. However, for people with microtia or anotia, this is compounded by the difficulty of wearing a traditional mask with small or no external ear(s). Fortunately, there are ways around the challenge presented by traditional masks with loops for around the ears.

Making your own face masks for Covid-19 use

As mentioned above, one of the biggest challenges for everyone is figuring out how to follow the latest guidelines on covering your mouth and nose when having to go out for groceries or other necessities during the coronavirus outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have posted helpful DIY guidelines for making and using cloth face coverings on their website. These can be further adapted to fit people without ears using the suggestions below.

Add strings to face masks

If you are making your own face mask, instead of using traditional ear loops you can attach tie-able strings at the top and on the bottom corners. These can be comfortably tied around the head to fit without requiring ears or getting in the way of your bone anchored hearing device.

Attach buttons to a headband

If you happen to have a traditional medical mask — especially if you’re a healthcare worker — then altering a scarf, bandanna, or other adaptable headband to add buttons on either side of your head is a good workaround. You can then put the loops around the buttons in place of ears.

 

 

 

 

Use a paperclip

This is a clever and simple trick: take a paperclip, slide it around each ear loop on the mask to connect them in back, then put the mask on over your head and adjust comfortably.

 

 

 

 

Do you have any other DIY suggestions for making face masks wearable without ears? Please share in the comments!

We’d like to thank our friend Melissa Tumblin and Ear Community for allowing us to share these helpful tips and photo examples.

*Masks featured in this post are not N95-rated or surgical grade.

Have You Heard of Oticon Medical Friends?

Spread the word!

Right after Thanksgiving last year, Oticon Medical formally launched a new community for Ponto wearers and caregivers to Ponto wearers in the United States, Oticon Medical Friends. Our goal was to create a safe, private space for wearers and caregivers to share their experiences with their Ponto bone anchored hearing systems, ask each other for advice and tips, and learn from one another’s experiences with hearing loss and treatment. Additionally, the community provides more direct access to Oticon Medical employees for assistance with questions related to technology, insurance, and best practices as well as the opportunity to share ideas for product and service advancements.

Features designed to empower Ponto users and caregivers

Oticon Medical Friends provides helpful features for new and experienced Ponto wearers and caregivers, including:

  • Easily viewable information on your Ponto device(s), including warranty information. This information is stored securely in your Profile, so only you can see it.
  • Groups dedicated to different subjects relevant to you. You can easily browse and find the groups that reflect your everyday interests and experiences.
  • A resource library with downloadable material to make life even easier with your device. All materials are made exclusively for Oticon Medical Friends members.
  • Direct messaging. Talk directly and privately with other Oticon Medical Friends community members as well as Oticon Medical employees.
  • A first look at new products and accessories. Find out first what we are working on and offer suggestions for what you’d like us to develop.
  • Coming soon: Exclusive offers and contests for members.

Groups and more in Oticon Medical Friends

Within the community are different groups designed for new wearers, experienced Ponto users, and caregivers. We encourage you to join as many as you’d like! The following are your current options:

  • Daily Life
  • New Ponto Users
  • Active Living
  • Experienced Ponto Users
  • Tips and Tricks
  • Kids with Ponto
  • Music
  • Coming soon: Advocacy
  • US Insurance

We also have a growing Library of content to help maximize your experience and enjoyment of life with a Ponto BAHS and an area where we encourage you to make Suggestions, which we will  use to continue expanding and developing Oticon Medical Friends. We are just getting started, so the sooner you join, the more influence you can have on making this community the best resource it can be!

How do I join Oticon Medical Friends?

If you are currently using a Ponto or you are a parent or caregiver of a Ponto wearer, Oticon Medical Friends is for you! To join, simply click this link to Oticon Medical Friends, and when directed enter the serial number for your or your loved one’s device. Whether you are a new member of the Oticon Medical extended family or a seasoned advocate, Oticon Medical Friends is the place for you.

 

Demant: One corporation. Many companies. One Mission.

As you may or may not know, Oticon Medical is part of a much larger global organization: the Demant Group. Beyond bone anchored hearing systems, Demant as a whole provides end-to-end hearing healthcare, from diagnostic equipment – used to identify hearing loss in the first place – to a host of treatment and supportive technology.

More than a century of experience in hearing health

For more than 115 years, the Demant Group of hearing and technology companies have helped people with hearing loss enjoy more of what life has to offer: music, the voices of children and grandchildren, and natural sounds like birds singing.

It all started when Demant began importing hearing aids into the Danish town of Odense more than 100 years ago. The import business transitioned over time into production of Demant’s own hearing aids. Even further down the line, Demant expanded into hearing care, diagnostics, hearing implants, audio solutions, and headsets. And the corporation continues adding to its core competencies, with exciting new technological advances and hearing health-related offerings planned for the future.

End-to-end hearing healthcare

Today, Demant is one of the world’s leading – and largest – hearing healthcare companies in the world, offering the broadest selection of treatment for people living with hearing loss. Besides Oticon Medical, the businesses under the Demant umbrella include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Hearing aid brands Oticon, Inc. and Philips HearLink
  • Diagnostic companies Interacoustics and MAICO
  • Assistive sound field system provider Frontrow

The purpose of the entire business and its employees remains the same across the various units: life-changing hearing health.

With that in mind, we encourage you to take a moment to reflect on all the sounds around you and consider how important they are to your daily life. Those without hearing challenges take sound for granted as they carry on with their routines. But almost 500 million people in the world – more than the population of the United States – live with some level of hearing loss. Like all the companies that make up the Demant Group, Oticon Medical is proud to offer the finest hearing technology to everyone who needs it around the globe.

Demant is seeking to highlight the importance of hearing health and keeping sound in your life with the launch of this new corporate video, I am sound. We hope you enjoy it!