Tag Archives: children with hearing loss

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.

Ask the Expert Series

Audiologist Laura Rhee’s Insights on Fitting Children with Ponto Systems

We had the wonderful pleasure of talking with lead pediatric audiologist, Dr. Laura Rhee from Providence Speech and Hearing Center and CHOC of California, about her experience fitting Oticon Medical Ponto Systems.

Why do you choose to work with Oticon Medical’s Ponto family of bone conduction devices?

Dr. Rhee: “I recommend Oticon Medical bone conduction devices over other manufacturers because your devices tend to have far less feedback issues. I make very few adjustments during the fitting due to the lack of feedback. This gives my patients more access to sound without the annoyance of feedback or reduction in speech understanding.”

What do you like about the Oticon Medical Ponto fittings?

Dr. Rhee: “I really like how easy the Ponto devices are to fit. Typically, I don’t have to make many adjustments to programming. At my clinic, we pre-program sound processors to make fittings go smoothly. We counsel families about daily use, how to clean and handle the sound processor and accessories during a demonstration or consultation appointment. Pre-programming the sound processors frees up time for us to spend counseling the families, improving our clinical efficiency, and providing valuable information to the family without being rushed.”

What are some challenges you or your patients face with Oticon Medical Ponto fittings?

Dr. Rhee: “The hardest part of a new fitting is the softband. It’s important to have it (the softband) tight enough to get a good fitting but this can become uncomfortable or may need to be adjusted throughout the day. Very young children will often grab and pull the band off throughout the day requiring parents or caregivers to replace and reposition often I tell parents it’s important to maintain a consistent wearing schedule each day because it will help children adapt to the softband and provide consistent access to sound, which is crucial for developing language”.

What advice do you give parents that are just starting this journey with their child?

Dr. Rhee: “Use the processor all waking hours to stimulate auditory connections within the brain. If you don’t use the auditory nerve or pathway, your brain will reuse those neural connections for other senses. Keep your brain working using the processor consistently to help reduce listening fatigue and foster speech development.”

Final thoughts on reducing feedback in bone conduction hearing devices

One of the key takeaways from our discussion was the importance of reducing feedback (aka ‘whistling’ or ‘whining’ noise) that occurs when amplified sound is reflected from the head, reaches the microphone, and is re-amplified. If feedback is not eliminated by an anti-feedback system, it becomes audible to the user and others around them. With Oticon Medical’s OpenSound Optimizer™ (OSO), you aren’t compromising gain or volume due to feedback. This is especially important when working with pediatric patients, who are often in a car seat, highchair, or lying on their backs during playtime. And Oticon Medical’s OpenSound Optimizer does just that—prevents feedback and provides stable gain so that users can get the most out of their devices without compromising speech understanding.[1]

Helpful links for parents of Ponto wearers

Here are some links that may be helpful for parents who are in the process of getting their child an Oticon Medical bone anchored hearing system (BAHS) or families of children that are new to wearing a Ponto BAHS processor.

About our expert: Dr. Laura Rhee

Dr. Rhee obtained her audiology degree from San Diego State University and University of California San Diego and has been at Providence since 2014. She works with a wide variety of pediatric patients (zero to 21), including children with craniofacial disorders. She has treated children with atresia, Treacher Collins and other syndromes related to hearing loss.

[1] BC109 Study (Data on file)

Miss Lucy Brown — Still Tumbling with Ponto 4!

Our favorite Ponto 4-wearing gymnast, Lucy Brown, is able to hear clearly despite the hustle and bustle surrounding her. Check out her moves in this short video, provided courtesy of her proud mom, Georgene Brown:

Hearing in noise is one of the most difficult challenges people with hearing loss face. Whether its other people’s conversations, background music, or other ambient noise, the strain to hear what you actually want to listen to all day can be frustrating and exhausting. As a competitive gymnast, Lucy cannot afford to let either get in her way. Fortunately, thanks to her Ponto 4 bone anchored hearing system, she is able to focus on her coach’s important directions and executing her challenging gymnastic routines.

Go, Lucy Brown, indeed!

The Ponto 3 SuperPower spurs a 180 degree change for Amelia

Allison and Amelia

Allison Richardson’s three-year-old daughter, Amelia, was born with Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder and has severe-profound unilateral hearing loss. At the time of Amelia’s diagnosis, family members and doctors advised her not to worry. But with three of Amelia’s older brothers diagnosed with Apraxia, a speech sound disorder, Allison knew the importance speech and hearing was to development.

While pregnant in 2009 with one of her sons, Allison began joining groups on Facebook for parents. She found these to be supportive networks where she could turn to for help and develop friendships. Once Amelia was born, she set out to find a Facebook group for parents of children with hearing loss, which is where she found the “BAHA Kids Club” Facebook group.

After learning about bone-anchored hearing systems (BAHS) and doing her own research, Allison brought Amelia to her ENT’s office to inquire about a BAHS. After learning the pros and cons of different devices, the personal stories of parents online, and about feedback and Oticon Medical’s great customer service, they advocated for a year-and-a-half to secure a device for Amelia.

180 degree difference with Ponto

Life for Amelia changed after being fit with the Oticon Medical Ponto 3 SuperPower. “She went from being an unfocused child speaking no more than five words to a focused student and dancer who now talks more than anyone at home. Her five older brothers say that Amelia has a bionic ear,” Allison said.

Amelia currently attends preschool and sits in a classroom with special needs and non-special needs students. The mix, Allison noted, provides special needs kids with mentors, and teaches non-special needs kids acceptance.

Amelia Richardson

Advice for parents

Allison’s advice is simple when it comes to making a medical decision for your child: “Go with your gut and don’t compare kids”.

She continued, “Do what you think is best for your child, not what other people say is best, because you know your child.”

The journey to better hearing and finding the right hearing device for your child’s individual hearing loss can be long and sometimes feel like a never-ending waiting game. Continue to advocate for yourself and your child, reach out to online support groups, try all your options, and as Allison reminded us, “Don’t give up.”

Find a clinic

Click the button if you want to learn more about our Ponto bone anchored hearing systems or arrange a trial.

Ear Community goes to Washington with Ponto SuperPowers

Advocacy Day 2019

On February 26, Ear Community was invited to be a part of the 2019 Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill.  This annual event invites advocates on behalf of dental, oral, and craniofacial research to speak directly with federal policymakers about how insurance coverage and research funding would improve the lives of those living with these conditions.

Organizer Melissa Tumblin founded Ear Community and has a daughter, Ally, with Microtia and Atresia who wears a bone-anchored hearing system (BAHS). Melissa was able to arrange the meetings with House and Senate representatives because she sits on the Patient Advocacy Council for the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR).

Melissa and Ally were accompanied by eight other Ear Community families, including one medical doctor, to Washington, D.C. representing the states of Washington, Colorado, Tennessee, Maryland, and Virginia.

Lobbying on behalf of families living with hearing loss and related conditions

On Monday, February 25, Melissa met with directors from the National Institute of Health representing the NIDCR, American Association for Dental Research (AADR), and International Association for Dental Research (IADR) to discuss collaborative efforts regarding children and adults affected by craniofacial challenges due to Microtia and Atresia and Goldenhar Syndrome.

The next day, the Ear Community families met with the following representatives and staff members on Capitol Hill:

  • Staff members for Senator Lamar Alexander’s (R-TN) office
  • Legislative staff members for Congressman Joe Neguse’s (D-CO), Senator Cory Gardner’s (R-CO), and Michael Bennet’s (D-CO) offices.
  • Legislative staff members for Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and office staff for Congressman John Sarbanes’ (D-MD) and Senator Ben Cardin’s (D-MD).
  • Legislative staff and the press secretary for Congressman Denny Heck’s (D-WA) office and an Appropriations representative for the NIH staff for Senator Patty Murray’s (D-WA) office.
  • Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), and legislative staff members for Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) and Congressman Ben Cline (R-VA). Sen. Kaine was celebrating his birthday and signed a little girl with Microtia and Atresia named Mazie’s cast. Both Sen. Kaine and Rep. Spanberger tweeted about the Ear Community visit.

Sen. Mark Werner and Ear Community FamiliesRep. Spanberger with members of Ear Community

Melissa also scheduled phone meetings with Congressman David McKinley (R-WV) and Congressman Michael Thompson (D-CA), as they both serve as co-chairs of the Congressional Hearing Health Caucus. Rep. McKinley is a cochlear implant user, and his grandson wears a bone-anchored hearing aid.

Each family left behind a detailed packet of information with the story of the Ear Community organization, an explanation about the need to wear bone-anchored hearing systems, and a sample of anaudiogram along with other helpful facts and figures. Each family explained to legislators and their staff that a bone-anchored device is their only option, because they don’t have the same hearing challenges that qualify others to wear cochlear implants or benefit from traditional hearing aids. Therefore, wearers need lawmakers to work toward mandating bone-conduction hearing device coverage by insurers nationwide. Otherwise, insurance companies are effectively discriminating against thousands of children and adults with hearing loss by not covering these medical devices.

A Stranger Things star gives back

Gaten Matarazzo poses with Ear Community kids for Advocacy Day 2019.

The Ear Community families also received an exciting treat: thanks to the NIDCR and AADR, they were given the opportunity to meet actor Gaten Matarazzo from the hit TV show Stranger Things! He was part of the Advocacy Day non-profit organization lobbying to bring awareness to Cleidocranial dysplasia (CCD), a rare genetic mutation affecting the growth and development of teeth and bones.

Melissa expressed her appreciation to Oticon Medical for lending her two Ponto 3 SuperPower BAHS on soft bands. During her visits, representatives tried on the Pontos and listened to her talk during their meetings, so they could experience for themselves what it’s like to hear through bone-anchored devices.

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Ear Community hosts a series of picnics where Microtia and Atresia families can learn more about Oticon Medical’s Ponto 3 SuperPower. Please click through this link for the 2019 picnic schedule.

Ready to try your first Ponto BAHS or upgrade to our latest model? Click below to get in touch with an audiologist in your area who can help you choose the best option for your hearing needs.

Find a clinic

Click the button if you want to learn more about our Ponto bone anchored hearing systems or arrange a trial.

SuperNOVA receives super hearing from her Ponto 3 SuperPowers

Nova Cox

Pfeiffer Syndrome is a craniofacial disorder that affects one in every 100,000 people and impacts the way bones grow. Nine-year-old Nova Cox was born with Pfeiffer Syndrome, and in her case her head, neck, and arms have been affected resulting in hearing loss in both ears.

Because hearing loss is common with Pfeiffer Syndrome, her parents Elizabeth (Liz) and Jason connected with other families, utilized Facebook groups for bone conduction wearers, researched online, and consulted their audiologist before Nova was fit with a bone-anchored hearing system (BAHS) on a softband.  

That’s a new sound

After wearing a bone-anchored hearing device on a softband for 7.5 years, Nova began advocating for abutment surgery. After doing research with her family, they consulted an audiologist and were able to try on different types of BAHS before her surgery.

“Nova made the decision to have the implant surgery and was able to ask her questions and be a part of the decision-making process. When she learned more about it she advocated for it and we moved forward when she was ready. When she tried on the Ponto, she didn’t want to take it off,” Liz explained.

Nova chose the Ponto bone-anchored hearing system because she experienced less feedback and better sound quality after trying different devices. She had bilateral abutment surgery and was fit with two Ponto 3 SuperPowers. On the day her Pontos were programmed it was raining and her mom recalls she asked, “Does the rain always sound like this?”. Nova’s parents knew they had made the right decision and for the first few weeks of having her Pontos on abutments they liked to play a game called That’s a new sound, where Nova shared new sounds she was experiencing.

Life with Ponto

It’s been a year since Nova’s bilateral abutment surgery. Today, she is a fierce and mighty force of nature advocating for herself, her health, and her life as an active kid.

She says she loves her Ponto BAHS and enjoys using the Oticon Medical Streamer in class and when she’s in the hospital so she can watch movies to pass the time. And like lots of kids her age she likes Legos, Star Wars and Pokemon and spends her free time playing music, soccer, Taekwondo, and watching movies with friends.

Nova hiking

Nova practicing Taekwondo

Empowered to tell her story

Inspired to share her story especially with young children, Nova created the video below as she was preparing to give a talk in Washington, DC advocating for high-quality accessible healthcare for children.

<iframe width=”1189″ height=”669″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/c-5S6VJA6s0″ frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen></iframe>

Advice to others

Nova and her family have learned a lot in just nine years. A few important pieces of advice that they want to share with other families is to try multiple hearing devices in order to find the right solution and make decisions when the time is right for you or your child. As for Nova, she has the best advice — “Judge Less, Love More”.

Find a clinic

Click the button if you want to learn more about our Ponto bone anchored hearing systems or arrange a trial.

 

 

Learning Faster: Why It Matters

In our previous blog post, we discussed BrainHearing™ — the term we at Oticon Medical use when referring to how the vital elements of hearing (processing and comprehension) occur in the brain. We also reviewed the evidence showing how our Ponto™ system supports sound processing that enables wearers to learn faster[1], remember more[2], and experience less listening effort[3]. In this post we’re going to delve deeper into how our bone-anchored hearing system (BAHS) helps wearers, especially children, learn faster and why that is important to their development.

The study and its results summed up

To review, Professor Andrea Pittman studied 17 preteen children, 16 of whom have conductive hearing loss and one with single-sided deafness (SSD) The children wore two Ponto Power at a time: one optimally fitted on a softband and one on an abutment. The children had to learn six new words and Dr. Pittman counted the number of repetitions it took to do so. The children performed the learning task twice (with different words), where only one sound processor was activated at a time in a randomized, single-blind manner (i.e., the subjects didn’t know which sound processor was active).

While the kids required approximately 166 trials to learn the words when wearing their Pontos affixed by softbands, they only needed 60 trials when wearing the devices attached to abutments — a 2.5 times increase in learning speed.

Faster learning supports better education and social development

When it comes to education and social development, language acquisition plays a significant role. To learn how to speak, read, and write on pace with their hearing peers, hard-of-hearing children need the best available assistance to improve their hearing ability as early in their lives as possible.

Babies and toddlers initially acquire language by hearing their parents speak. Their linguistic comprehension increases exponentially as they grow and interact more with other adults and peers especially once they start school. During the critical school age years, kids who cannot hear clearly often struggle to increase their vocabulary because it is hard to process and understand spoken language[4].

Consider this: even children with perfect hearing have difficulty paying attention in school. They often are expected to absorb lessons while straining to hear over background chatter, sitting far away from the teacher, and poor classroom acoustics. Now imagine trying to learn despite all this and having a significant hearing loss. It’s no surprise hard-of-hearing children[5] often return home from school feeling frustrated, exhausted, and overwhelmed.

Difficulty to learn at the same rate as others can also lead to youngsters falling behind or even in being held back a grade[6]. For kids who may already feel isolated by their hearing loss, this further separation from same-age peers can significantly impede their social development.

With all this in mind, it’s no surprise that many of these children develop a negative attitude toward school. Many doubt their own learning capabilities and struggle to fit in socially. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Helping kids with hearing loss succeed

By utilizing a Ponto as early in life as possible, your child can experience the regular stimulation of incoming sound needed to help the brain as much as possible. When worn implanted on an abutment, this powerful BAHS may help keep children learning at a rate closer to that of their natural hearing peers.

Are you ready to try a Ponto for the first time or upgrade to our latest model? Click below to get in touch with an audiologist in your area who can help you choose the best option for you or your child’s hearing needs.

Find a clinic

Click the button if you want to learn more about our Ponto bone anchored hearing systems or arrange a trial.

[1] Pittman, A. L. (2019) Bone conduction amplification in children: Stimulation via a percutaneous abutment vs. a transcutaneous softband. Ear Hear.
[2] Lunner, T., Rudner, M., Rosenbom, T., Ågren, J., and Ng, E.H.N. (2016) Using Speech Recall in Hearing Aid Fitting and Outcome Evaluation Under Ecological Test Conditions. Ear Hear 37 Suppl 1: 145S-154S.
[3] Bianchi, F., Wendt, D., Wassard, C., Maas, P., Lunner, T., Rosenbom, T., and Holmberg, M. (2019) Benefit of higher maximum force output on listening effort in bone-anchored hearing system users: a pupillometry study. Ear Hear.
[4] Committee on the Evaluation of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Disability Program for Children with Speech Disorders and Language Disorders; Board on the Health of Select Populations; Board on Children, Youth, and Families; Institute of Medicine; Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education; National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Rosenbaum S, Simon P, editors. Speech and Language Disorders in Children: Implications for the Social Security Administration’s Supplemental Security Income Program. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2016 Apr 6. 2, Childhood Speech and Language Disorders in the General U.S. Population. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK356270/
[5] Colquitt JL, Jones J, Harris P, et al. Bone-Anchored Hearing Aids (BAHAs) for People who are Bilaterally Deaf: A Systematic Review and Economic Evaluation. Southampton (UK): NIHR Journals Library; 2011 Jul. (Health Technology Assessment, No. 15.26.) 1, Aim and background. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK99649/
[6] Cooke, Gary, & Stammer, John. (1985). Grade retention and social promotion. CHILDHOOD EDUCATION, 61 (4), 302-308. EJ 315 804

Ponto helps wearers! Learn faster. Remember more. Reduce listening effort.

By now you’re likely familiar with BrainHearing™, our guiding principal when it comes to developing our hearing systems. Simply put, it is an acknowledgement that the most vital hearing processes, including speech comprehension and understanding, occurs in the brain, not ears. Therefore, effective hearing systems need to make it as easy as possible for your brain to make sense of incoming sounds, not just pick up and amplify them. Our Ponto™ bone-anchored hearing systems (BAHS) support better sound processing that enables wearers to learn faster[1], remember more[2], and expend less listening effort[3] — and we have the evidence to prove it.

Learn faster with Ponto

Principal investigator Professor Andrea Pittman of Arizona State University studied 17 preteen children, 16 of whom had conductive hearing loss and one with single-sided deafness (SSD). She initially tested the children with the Ponto Power fitted on softbands. Prof. Pittman had the children listen to and learn six new made-up words and assessed the number of repetitions required before each child learned the words. Then she repeated the test, only this time with the Ponto Power affixed to the children’s abutments. The results were significant — it took the children approximately 166 trials to learn the words when sounds were transmitted through the skin via the softband yet only 60 trials when sounds were transmitted directly through the attached devices. That’s an impressive 2.5 times increase in learning speed!  

Ponto helps wearers remember more

Professor Thomas Lunner worked with Oticon Medical at the Ericksholm Research Center in Denmark to assess how Ponto aids in improving memory. Participants in the study included 16 adults in their late fifties with conductive or mixed hearing loss. Again, the subjects were first tested wearing their Pontos on softbands only. Their assigned task was to recall seven words after listening to sentences including each word individually. The results showed the subjects remembered the words at a rate of approximately 46 percent. However, when they wore their Pontos on their abutments and were tested again, that number rose to a significant 52 percent. This means wearers experienced a 13 percent relative improvement in ability to recall with direct sound transmission vs. skin transmission — likely because fewer mental resources were needed to process the signal, and so more can be devoted to memory.  

Reduce listening effort with Ponto 3 SuperPower

The principal investigator in this study was Oticon Medical, working out of our Global headquarters in Denmark. Participants consisted of 21 adults in their late 50s with conductive or mixed hearing loss. They were tested using three different processors with different maximum outputs: Ponto Pro, Ponto 3, and Ponto 3 SuperPower. Participants were tasked with listening to and repeating sentences heard through background noise, while an eye-tracking camera monitored their pupil dilation, an established measurement of listening effort wherein the pupil dilates in direct relation to the amount of listening effort expended. Our researchers compared the performance of the subjects using each device and noted a sizeable decrease in listening effort and retention with use of the Ponto 3 SuperPower as indicated by reduced pupil dilation as compared to the Ponto Pro and the regular Ponto 3. This supports the idea that higher power hearing systems allows wearers to comprehend speech with significantly less effort.  

What it all means to you

The evidence is in that direct sound transmission through a Ponto system with a higher maximum output offers far more than the ability to hear better. When worn implanted on an abutment, these powerful BAHS let you learn 2.5 times faster — especially important for school-age wearers. They improve ability to remember by 13 percent, which offers an advantage to older wearers who might have memory concerns in general. And they require wearers to expend less listening effort to keep up with conversations, reducing the fatigue associated with difficulty straining to hear and understand speech daily. Ready to try your first Ponto BAHS or upgrade to our latest Ponto model? Click below to get in touch with an audiologist in your area who can help you choose the best option for your hearing needs.

Find a clinic

Click the button if you want to learn more about our Ponto bone anchored hearing systems or arrange a trial.

 

[1] Pittman, A. L. (2019) Bone conduction amplification in children: Stimulation via a percutaneous abutment vs. a transcutaneous softband. Ear Hear. 
[2] Lunner, T., Rudner, M., Rosenbom, T., Ågren, J., and Ng, E.H.N. (2016) Using Speech Recall in Hearing Aid Fitting and Outcome Evaluation Under Ecological Test Conditions. Ear Hear 37 Suppl 1: 145S-154S.
[3]  Bianchi, F., Wendt, D., Wassard, C., Maas, P., Lunner, T., Rosenbom, T., and Holmberg, M. (2019) Benefit of higher maximum force output on listening effort in bone-anchored hearing system users: a pupillometry study. Ear Hear.

 

Isabella’s Ponto Bone Anchored Hearing System helps her on and off the volleyball court

Despite being born with a bilateral conductive hearing loss, Isabella doesn’t let anything, especially her hearing loss, slow her down. She has microtia on her left side and bilateral atresia. When her parents realized she had a hearing loss at birth, they worked quickly to ensure she received early intervention.

“When I was little and I hadn’t had my reconstruction surgery yet for my microtia, I used to tell people that I was in an alligator fight and that an alligator bit my ear off. I was instantly the coolest kid.” – Isabella Rodriguez.

Her mother, Lupita, began advocating and researching this new world of hearing loss which led her to join Georgia PINES (Parent Infant Network for Educational Services). Through her work as an early interventionist for Georgia PINES and Georgia Hands and Voices, she learned first-hand about the latest hearing technology and spoke with local audiologists. This is how she came across Oticon Medical’s Ponto Bone Anchored Hearing System.

Starting high school off right
As Isabella entered high school, her parents knew she needed to upgrade to the newest technology to ensure she was set up for success. After trialing different brands, Isabella chose the Ponto and started her high school days with a Ponto Plus Power on a softband. “The Ponto was a lot clearer, had less feedback and had a sleek design, while the other options sounded robotic,” she explains.

And in a school of more than 3,000 kids, her Ponto made a difference. Whether she was taking part in group projects, communicating with classmates in the cafeteria, or socializing in the courtyard.

“In the classroom, the new lecture style of teaching where the teacher moves about the room would have normally been really difficult for me to hear, but my Oticon Medical Streamer helps. I wear my Streamer and the teachers use an FM system to send sound to my Streamer which sends sound to my Ponto.” – Isabella Rodriguez

Connecting with other Ponto users at local events
As Isabella now plans for college next year, she and her family have started researching abutment surgery. Surgery can come with a lot of questions and we know that conversation and discussion through the lens of experience is the most powerful tool in making the right decision for the best hearing care. After attending a bone anchored hearing meetup in Georgia, hosted by Ross Wiseman earlier this year, Isabella and Lupita were able to meet other Ponto users who wear their Pontos on abutments.

“We were able to connect with Ross and two other women who had the Ponto abutment surgery at the meetup. They explained their experience with the surgery and how their hearing had improved,” Lupita explained.

Wearing a Ponto Bone Anchored Hearing System in high school
Isabella currently plays competitive volleyball with her Ponto, which she says helps her hear coaches and teammates.

“I never play without my Ponto.” – Isabella Rodriguez

As she’s grown older, she has gained more confidence and become used to educating her teachers and fellow students on what it means to have a hearing loss. To other young people with hearing loss who may be struggling with self-confidence, she says, “Don’t be ashamed. Everyone is different and there is nothing wrong with you.”

 

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The Ponto 3 SuperPower ignites a love for music for Talia

Three-year-old Talia Jarvis was born with unilateral microtia and atresia, and bilateral moderate-severe hearing loss. When the Jarvis family adopted Talia in March of 2017, they took her to an ENT right away to begin her hearing journey.

“I wasn’t familiar with all the different devices. Our audiologist said they were all pretty much the same. They didn’t provide the Ponto so we took home a different bone anchored hearing device to trial and it didn’t reach our expectations.” – Laurie Jarvis

Talia’s mother, Laurie, began doing her own research because of the severe feedback issues Talia was experiencing. She began speaking to other users online in Facebook groups like this one and this one that helped her find the Ponto 3 SuperPower and halt her current bone anchored hearing system order until Talia trialed the Ponto. “I told my doctor that if they didn’t let us trial the Ponto device we would be switching to someone else, ” she explains.

Since receiving her Ponto 3 SuperPower Talia’s world has expanded and is happy to wear her device all day. She is now learning language and her mother says she can hear the differences in sounds. 

“With the Ponto, she cried the first time I took it off at night. The next morning she pointed to it on the dresser and every day since then it’s the very first thing she asks for in the morning.

Before it was hard to get her to sit still to read a story. Now she will ask for book after book after book. She wants to learn new vocabulary and is constantly asking me what this and that is. That interest was not there before.” – Laurie Jarvis

One of the greatest differences her family has witnessed is seeing her discover a love for music. At home, Talia now enjoys listening to her sister play the piano, a sound that until recently was something she had not heard.

 

“My oldest daughter was playing the piano one morning and Talia was sitting in her highchair eating breakfast and she looked at me and she pointed to my daughter who was playing and she signed ‘piano; It was obvious that she was hearing something different.” – Laurie Jarvis

Find a clinic

Click the button if you want to learn more about our Ponto bone anchored hearing systems or arrange a trial.