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!”
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.
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.
During the month of July, we have been traveling around to film a series of new user stories with wearers of the Ponto 5 SuperPower. Our subjects have provided us with wonderful insights into their experiences so far, and we are excited to share a preview of their opinions in this blog post.
On choosing to get the Ponto 5 SuperPower
“I’ve 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 no feedback.” – Camilla G.
“Coming from the 3SP and then to the four, I was always looking for a little more sound from the P4. The P5SP now has all that and then some!” – Jay W.
“Sounded very similar to P5 Mini because of the programming that fits me comfortably and it’s already excellent as the P5 Mini.” – Sarah S.*
“We were very excited to hear OM was coming out with a Ponto 5 SuperPower! (My daughter’s) hearing loss is severe enough that the extra headroom of the SuperPower allows for access to as much sound as possible, and, equally, as little feedback. – Katelyn H.
“I have been using the Ponto 5 Superpower since it became available, and it is so great!” – Anonymous user
First impressions of the Ponto 5 SP
“At my office, I made some hot coffee; I noticed that buzzing noise in my right ear Ponto and realized that it was the steam from my coffee. Maybe my office was very quiet that day or I didn’t know hot coffee had a sound.” – Camilla G.
“A very vibrant and robust sound quality.” – Jay W.
“I like the SuperPower for its longer battery life, especially when streaming wirelessly.” – Sarah S.
“The first thing I noticed when (my daughter) put on the P5SPs was that she was more aware of background noises and high frequency sounds, like birds, bugs, water, the pool filter, and background noise like other people’s conversations going on around her.” – Katelyn H.
“Hearing this naturally makes a really big difference day to day and there is a depth to the sound that I have not experienced with any previous bone conduction device (I have used).” – Anonymous user
Improvements noticed wearing the Ponto 5 SuperPower
“I can communicate in a social situation, such as a restaurant, a meeting, and various appointments. Before, I struggled with understanding what people were saying in social situations. Now I can engage more without listening fatigue.” – Camilla G.
“I can be in the living room watching tv and hear subtle noises from the laundry room which is around three corners and down the hall. That wasn’t possible with my older devices.” – Jay W.
“Wearing my Ponto 5 SuperPower allows me to hear the surrounding environment through OpenSound Navigator™ (full 360-degree soundscape).” – Sarah S.
“At school, (my daughter) is more confident in group settings. She’s better focused in class and isn’t constantly interrupting or distracted, trying to keep track of what’s being said behind her.” – Katelyn S.
“The amazing streaming volume, which to me sounds louder and not distorted, and I would say that this is certainly a step forward compared to any of my previous devices.” – Anonymous user
Five things wearers love about Ponto 5 SuperPower
“Music, music, music… I think I made that clear!” – Camilla G.
“I find that in some situations it actually is almost too loud. I find myself turning it down instead of wishing it had more power, which is awesome.” – Jay W.
“I like that I have the choice to control the volume either through my phone or onboard features.” – Sarah S.
“(My daughter) loves hearing the birds and crickets. She found a baby bird nest the other day by listening to their cries and going to see what it was.” – Katelyn H.
“I now have the power and processing that makes sounds feel incredibly natural. I can tell that there is a calmness and relaxation in my body and mind when I am wearing the Ponto 5 Superpower.” – Anonymous user
We recently spoke to a long-time Ponto™ wearer with single-sided deafness (SSD) who tried out our new Ponto 5 SuperPower. They kindly gave us permission to share their reaction, because they want to encourage others with similar hearing conditions to treat their hearing loss effectively.
Hey there! I have had single-sided deafness for more than 20 years. I’ve struggled to hear voices on my “deaf” side and either had to ask for repetition or ask the person to move to my “good” side. Also, hearing in noisy environments is very difficult and drains me of my energy. It was a big decision to get implanted with a bone anchored hearing system (BAHS) and I inevitably waited longer than I should have to get the surgery. Overall, it was a simple procedure.
I have been wearing Ponto since the second-generation Ponto Plus was available. I have tried other products with mixed results due to poor sound quality and reliability. Next, I transitioned to a Ponto 3 SuperPower, and was really impressed with the improvement in sound quality with a more powerful device.
When Ponto 4 came out, new sound processing and Bluetooth® technologies were available with direct streaming to the device. While Ponto 4 was not a power device, these improvements were enough for me to upgrade and the sound quality from the Oticon OpenSound Navigator™ seemed to make up for the lack of overall power. There were some issues however, as the sound felt slightly flat and the streaming was a little too soft, especially when there was any sort of background noise.
I have been using the Ponto 5 Superpower since it became available, and it is so great! I now have the power and processing that makes sounds feel incredibly natural. I can tell that there is a calmness and relaxation in my body and mind when I am wearing the Ponto 5 Superpower. Hearing this naturally makes a really big difference day to day and there is a depth to the sound that I have not experienced with any previous bone conduction device.
Combine this with the amazing streaming volume, which to me sounds louder and not distorted, and I would say that this is certainly a step forward compared to any of my previous devices. I would encourage anyone wearing a BAHS to try the Ponto 5 Superpower and experience these things for themselves. It was well worth my time and effort to go through this process.
Sarah Sabal is a longtime Oticon Medical hearing advocate and currently a summer intern with Oticon Medical. In this blog, she shares her experiences growing up with hearing loss and how she has benefited from wearing bilateral Ponto devices, particularly when it comes to her education.
Hello everyone! My name is Sarah Sabal, and I am a college student attending Rochester Institute of Technology, double-majoring in Marketing and Chinese Language and Culture (Mandarin) with a minor in International Business. I will be graduating in the spring of 2024.
Having been born deaf due to microtia and atresia and after spending the first seven years of my life in an orphanage in China, I am no stranger to adversity. I learned early on how to overcome challenges and never let my disability define me. Instead, it serves as a reminder that I need to work extra hard turning every challenge into an opportunity to succeed. I am a longtime Oticon Medical Ponto™ user and an advocate who wears a Ponto 5 Mini, which has changed my life. It has helped me to experience the full soundscape, while learning Chinese, and communicate more easily with my co-workers, teachers, and friends, and better advocate for myself and other people with hearing loss.
Motivated despite challenges from an early age
Back in the orphanage in China, I had no family, education, or hope. When a family in the United States chose to adopt me, I knew my life was about to change and that I would have to work extra hard to make up for the lost time.
As an adoptee from China, I always wanted to learn the Chinese language. When I came to America at seven, I was deaf and could speak only a small amount of the Sichuan dialect. My greatest personal challenge has been overcoming my deafness and proving that I can achieve my goals through hard work, determination, and never making excuses.
After I had minimally invasive Ponto surgery (MIPS) and got my first Ponto bone conduction hearing devices, I remember hearing the birds for the very first time. New to hearing and speaking, I worked tirelessly to ensure I was always prepared for class. I focused on becoming proficient in English. Over the years, I also taught myself Mandarin so that I could communicate with the exchange students my family hosted from China. I became regularly active in my high school and served as an advocate for the Deaf and hard of hearing (HoH) community. I also participated in various extracurricular activities. I achieved a 4.2 GPA, was a member of the National Honor Society and National Art Honor Society, played the oboe in my high school band, and ran varsity track and cross-country.
My interest in the Chinese language prompted me to pursue an undergraduate degree at RIT. This distinctive degree program pairs a proficiency in the Chinese language and culture with a technical or professional discipline, such as engineering, business, and health sciences. I take every opportunity both in and outside the classroom to immerse myself in language, culture, and traditions.
I was awarded the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) in 2021 through the Department of State, where I studied Mandarin this past summer at the National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) in Taiwan. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the program was taught virtually but allowed me the opportunity to travel to South Korea independently for an immersive experience and to learn about another culture. I was selected as a 2021 Boren Scholar to study Mandarin in Taiwan this upcoming fall 2022 for a semester. I have been accepted into National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) to advance my Chinese proficiency and study Business in Chinese.
Since getting my Ponto 5 Mini, I have had the opportunity to study abroad in a different environment constantly using Chinese, which is a difficult language to learn. It is a very tonal language that involves hearing different pitches and attention to detailed minor sound changes.
Using Ponto 5 Mini in a classroom environment
My college class schedule gives me the flexibility to study, work part-time, socialize, and rest in my free time. My class range in size from 14 to 200 students. Learning in a large setting with many students and one professor can make it challenging to hear because it is often noisy. During lecture sessions, I take advantage of RIT’s services through the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) program, allowing me to have captioning, note-taking, and extended test time. In addition, I use Oticon Medical’s advanced wireless technology, EduMic™, which allows me to hear my professor’s voice directly through my Ponto 5 Mini.
After classes, I usually go to a study room on campus to do my work online. When I have Zoom meetings or video lectures, I use the ConnectClip™ that automatically syncs through Bluetooth® to my laptop. I love using my ConnectClip because it provides a clear, crisp sound that goes directly into my Ponto without an interim accessory and does not have to disturb anyone else in a quiet study room. I am grateful for Oticon Medical and RIT’s services for helping Deaf or hard of hearing students, which have allowed me to reach my full potential and succeed in all my classes.
Social life made easier with Ponto
During my free time, I often get together with my friends, which is the best part of my college life experience. We usually go out for dinner and go on adventures creating quality memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life. When I am with my friends, in clubs, or attending any social events, struggling to communicate, or straining to hear what they say in a loud, crowded environment has not been an issue. My Ponto 5 Mini has a built-in setting that automatically reduces or softens background noise to help me listen to the person talking directly to me. The OpenSound Navigator™ feature creates a 360 degrees soundscape, allowing me to hear sounds coming from all around me.
Facing life’s challenges
In life, there will always be challenges trying to knock you down. Although I am doing very well at RIT with my Ponto 5 Mini processors, there have been some personal and technical challenges. A few ignorant people who don’t understand hearing loss have silently judged me for needing an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter, talking slowly, or they assume that I might be stupid. To combat these personal challenges, I try not to let them affect me and continue to show everyone who I am and that I’m not afraid that I am different. Often, these ignorant people lack education and understanding that hearing loss does not affect an individual’s other capabilities, or they are just narrow-minded and unwilling to accept differences.
I have also had some technical challenges, such as needing more batteries or a check-up for my Ponto 5 processors to ensure they continue functioning normally. The most fortunate part of RIT is that they have a free, on-campus audiology center where I can make an appointment for any hearing-related issues. I am grateful to my school offers this, as most universities do not.
Becoming a hearing advocate for myself and others
Before coming to RIT, I used to be self-conscious because I didn’t want to stand out from my hearing peers. I used to wear my hair over my devices and not let others see that I was wearing my Ponto processors. That all changed when I realized coming into college, most people were very welcoming and accepting of diversity and part of an inclusive community. At RIT, we have approximately 12,000 students with hearing loss creating a unique, mixed community between hearing and Deaf/HoH students interacting together. I am not afraid to explain to other students what my processor are and how they help me hear. Most of my friends, classmates, professors, and other faculty staff find it very interesting and are amazed to learn how I hear through vibration with my Ponto 5 Mini yet can live the life I want as a college student. I am proud of my identity, where I come from, and how I got to RIT, accomplishing all my endeavors.
I have always overcome any adversity that blocked my path to success. When challenges arise, I self-advocate by communicating with others to help them understand my situation and ask for the help I need instead of struggling. It took me a long time to learn to advocate for myself because, growing up from elementary to early high school, my mother always fought for me to ensure I had the right resources. But now, as a college student, I stand my ground to ensure I don’t get taken advantage of due to my hearing loss. My mother is still my biggest supporter and is proud of me for overcoming my hardships though!
I am now excelling in college with a 3.58 GPA and currently participate in different clubs and sports activities. I was part of the RIT NCAA Division III Women’s varsity cross-country and track; I am a member of Asian Cultural Society and Society for Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE). During my college years, I have taken three part-time on-campus jobs as a Chinese note-taker for Deaf or HoH students, a virtual teacher’s assistant in Chinese cultural research, and a Chinese tutor. I believe everyone has a voice and that their values matter despite their hearing loss or other challenges, and that like me, everyone deserves an equal chance of success.
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.
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!
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.”
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!)
Sandi Arcus is a Dispensing Audiologist in Nevada. Born with single-sided deafness (SSD), she has always had a passion for helping others who are hard of hearing. She started her career in Pennsylvania as an audiologist in a busy ENT office, then in private practice. She currently works at an audiology clinic in Henderson, NV. Sandi holds a Master of Science degree in Audiology from Bloomsburg University, is a Fellow with the American Academy of Audiology, and holds a Certificate of Clinical Competency from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association.
I decided to upgrade from my previous Ponto processor, because I’m always curious about new technology and fascinated by small instruments making big improvements in sound quality. I’ve been particularly impressed by the following Ponto 5 Mini features:
With the OpenSound Navigator™, I can hear speech better in a noisy restaurant, car, and wind. There is a noted improvement from the previous model.
I never had too much of a feedback issue, but now with the OpenSound Optimizer™, it’s even less. Now that I think about it, I haven’t heard any feedback!
The RemoteCare option is a great tool for follow-up care. Very convenient.
While the previous model already did a great job of making it easier to hear and understand speech in noisy environments, I’ve noted that with Ponto 5 Mini, it takes less effort to hear speech in difficult listening situations, which means less frustration.
The Ponto 5 Mini definitely supports my busy life!! It’s small yet powerful!!! I don’t feel like I’m missing anything, and people around me notice that as well. It makes me feel that I am doing the very best that I can do to hear the very best that I can hear! I feel more confident going into difficult listening situations. I’m less concerned and anxious that I will miss something.
If someone is considering whether to get their first Ponto 5 Mini or upgrading from their current BAHS, I want to tell you that you don’t know what you are missing until you try it. It’s the little sounds that I thought I was hearing “well enough”—it became more apparent that I had not been hearing them “well enough” after all. It enhances the sounds around me enough to sound closer to “normal” and greatly reduces my listening effort. Give Ponto 5 Mini a try!
Many people think—incorrectly—that living with unilateral (single-sided or SSD) hearing loss wouldn’t be a big deal. After all, you have another ear through which you can hear, right? What they don’t consider is that being unable to hear much or at all through one ear not only impacts your ability to locate the direction from which sounds are coming, but also challenges your ability to keep up with conversations, especially in noisy environments. Fortunately, while there is no cure currently for the majority of single-sided deafness cases, there are effective treatments available that can make life with SSD easier.
What causes a loss of hearing in one ear?
There are multiple reasons why you might experience a loss of hearing in only one ear, including the following:
Microtia/Atresia. Microtia often affects only one ear, leaving you with either a small portion of your pinna (outer ear) or none at all. Microtia is often coupled with Atresia, which is an absence of a functional ear canal.
Sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL). This can occur with no warning in as little as a day or two. The cause is usually unknown, but if you catch it quickly and seek emergency treatment, it can often be treated and completely cleared up. The spontaneous rate of recovery without treatment is about 60 percent. However, for those 40 percent who don’t receive treatment within the first 24 hours of the onset of symptoms, the loss can become complete and permanent.
Injury to the eardrum. Various physical injuries can cost you part or all of the hearing in one ear. Examples include damaging your eardrum while scuba diving or inserting a cotton swab too deeply. Also being close on one side to an extremely loud noise (e.g., a gun firing) could damage the irreplaceable stereocilia (hair cells) required to process sound.
Acoustic neuroma. This noncancerous tumor can develop on the vestibular nerve, which runs from your inner ear to your brain. Damage to branches of this nerve, either from the tumor itself or due to the surgery required to remove it, can permanently impede hearing.
Certain diseases sometimes affect only one ear, including measles, mumps, and meningitis, among others.
How single-sided hearing loss interferes with life
Engaging in conversations. If you have SSD, you might find yourself having to strategically position your “good” ear toward others in order to keep up with conversations. And if you happen to be in a noisy environment like a crowded bar with a group of friends, the struggle to keep up with multiple conversations can quickly become exhausting.
Locating where a sound is coming from. This can be merely an inconvenience if, for example, someone is calling your name and it takes you several seconds to turn your head in the right direction to respond. However, it could pose a safety risk if you’re walking across the street, riding a bicycle, or driving a car and you cannot quickly determine from which direction a siren or similar warning is coming.
Gauging volume is challenging. The brain is constructed to process sound as perceived by two ears at the same time. When only one ear is functional, it tends to process the incoming sound at a lower volume, which makes adjusting the television or a stereo to a comfortable volume for yourself and anyone else in the room with binaural hearing problematic.
Balance issues. You might experience difficulty maintaining your balance, particularly if you have had SSD since birth. Studies¹ have found that those with unilateral hearing loss must depend more on their vision to maintain balance if their SSD also affects the vestibular portion of their inner ear.
Treatment options for SSD
Fortunately, effective treatments are available to improve the lives of people troubled by single-sided hearing loss. These include contralateral routing of signal (CROS) and bilateral contralateral routing of signal (BiCROS) hearing aids and bone anchored hearing system implants. When it comes to the former, you have to wear a hearing aid on both ears so that the aid on your deaf side can route sound to the aid on your hearing side wirelessly. If your hearing ear is at 100 percent, then you would choose a CROS option, which means the aid on your good ear would simply be a receiver. However, if you have some hearing loss in that ear as well, the BiCROS aid worn on the better ear can be programmed to provide additional amplification.
Many people with SSD would prefer not to have to wear two hearing aids or they find that CROS/BiCROS devices are not effective enough for their needs. That’s where a bone conduction device like the Ponto™ comes in. Those who opt for an implantable solution often comment that they can’t believe how much sound they were missing out on and how it takes far less effort to hear and keep up with speech, especially in noise. Even those who have only ever heard out of one ear frequently benefit from a bone anchored hearing solution for single-sided deafness.
If you are hard of hearing on one side or have outer or middle ear problems, Ponto may be the solution for you. Ponto uses the body’s natural ability to transfer sound through bone conduction, and it can provide the support you need to participate more easily in daily life with less listening effort.
Are you ready to take the next step? We can help you find a clinic close to home where you can get all the answers you need regarding Ponto bone anchored hearing systems, minimally invasive Ponto surgery (MIPS), and more. You can also always contact Oticon Medical directly at 888.277.8014 or at [email protected]
¹Snapp HA, Ausili SA. Hearing with One Ear: Consequences and Treatments for Profound Unilateral Hearing Loss. Journal of Clinical Medicine. 2020; 9(4):1010. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9041010
New wearer Shannon Dakin recently shared her excitement about living life with Ponto 4 in a Facebook Group. The following is her experience with our most advanced bone anchored hearing system to date, in her own words.
Basically, due to ear infections as a child, I’ve always had hearing loss. Through surgeries (about 13), I was able to hear, but I don’t think I had perfect hearing. About 20 years ago, I had another round of infections that took away my hearing. All the surgeries failed, and they were unable to do any more due to too much scar tissue.
Since then, I’ve lived life with no hearing in my right ear and some hearing loss in my left. I was unable to use conventional hearing aids as they would plug my ear canal and cause infections. In that 20 years, I could never get the bone anchored system due to the cost, and none of the medical insurance plans I had would ever cover it, until I started working where I am now.
With my Ponto 4, I’ve gone from 20 years with limited hearing to hearing everything. It has been overwhelming and fascinating at the same time. I don’t know how I accomplished so much with my limited hearing! I don’t have anything to compare the Ponto 4 with, but the sound is great, and I’ve adapted well to using it. This has been a life-changer for me and I’m very thankful!
I noticed yesterday that cardinals are the loudest birds. It amazes me that they are so noisy! We live in a very noisy world. The ice maker is my nemesis. I never knew it made so much sound all the time and when it dumps, I jump!
My husband and I are starting beekeeping this year. I was able to hear buzzing before the device, but I have a feeling this spring and summer are going to be filled with so much buzzing sound! He says I’m like a two-year-old sometimes, always saying, “What’s that?! What’s that?!”
We appreciate Shannon allowing us to share her experience and are thrilled she is enjoying her new life filled with sounds—even if some are more enjoyable than others!
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