Lindsey was born with single-sided deafness due to microtia and atresia. Little did she know that answering an ad to record testimonials for Oticon Medical would lead to discovering an effective treatment for her own unilateral hearing loss: the Ponto™ 5 SuperPower bone anchored hearing processor! In this testimonial video — which Lindsey directed herself! — she shares how the unexpected discovery of the Ponto device is supporting her education and career aspirations.
I never knew any different when it came to what I could hear versus what my peers and family could hear. My biggest problem has always been with the direction of sound. I usually have to watch people talk to fully understand what they are saying. When I talk with people, I make sure they are on my left side so I can hear them. Otherwise, the sound gets mixed in with other noise.
When I was 15, I tried my first implant. Although it increased the volume of sounds, I couldn’t tell which direction sound was coming from in very standard locations and situations. It actually made it more overwhelming trying to understand what everyone was saying because it made everything louder without any distinction. I would get headaches after wearing it for a few hours because it was magnetic.
I am currently in college for film production, and I plan to focus on screenwriting and directing. That being said, I do love videography and cinematography, and getting to begin videography work in a corporate setting has been an amazing opportunity.
I was asked if I wanted to apply for a videography position for Oticon Medical to make testimonials for the Ponto 5 SuperPower. I didn’t tell them I had microtia and atresia until I traveled for the first testimonial. Now I know so many people who also have microtia and atresia or children with microtia and atresia, and I had an amazing summer creating testimonials, improving my craft, and making wonderful connections.
One of the Oticon Medical audiologists offered to let me try the Ponto 5 SuperPower. I could hear distinct sounds coming from both sides, and the volume of things made sense regarding their position from me. It was surreal, yet so natural. It took me a few days to get used to it, but I was delighted with how natural yet powerful everything sounded.
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
“No other hearing aid or osseo-integrated device company can match the processing available in the Ponto 4.”
Tory Burns, a Clinical Representative with Oticon Medical, had an acoustic neuroma removed when he was 15, leaving him with single-sided deafness (SSD). He describes what led him to finally treat his hearing loss with the Ponto bone anchored hearing system (BAHS) and his thoughts on the Ponto 4 after upgrading from the Ponto 3 SP.
Search for the right SSD treatment leads to a career with Oticon Medical
I completely lost the hearing in my left ear by the time I was 18. My good ear is normal. I cannot tell which direction sounds are coming from and I have significant difficulty hearing in background noise. I have had to pre-plan before going out and assertively choose the seating that most appropriately fit my hearing loss (since my SSD is on the left, I would try to avoid having people sit or walk on my left side). I tried several CROS-type solutions, and all were too noisy for me to wear for any length of time.
I worked for Oticon, Inc. for four years, choosing this particular company because of its unique innovations and forward-looking technology. I then moved over to Oticon Medical because it was an opportunity to work with people struggling with the same hearing loss that I had. I did not get a Ponto until six months later. I did not specifically intend to do this but since I saw how easy the surgery was, it quickly became a no-brainer — I had to try it. I was a new dad at the time and wanted to make sure I was giving myself every opportunity to be a part of my daughter’s life.
I definitely feel I have an insider’s perspective. I can relate to and empathize with difficulties that a person with SSD has that may not be obvious, even to them. I can also offer some assurance that having a Ponto generally won’t interfere with any of their activities no matter how physically demanding.
Ponto 4 and the joys of wireless streaming
I wore my previous Ponto devices situationally. When I was in noise, I would have to turn it up all the way. Sometimes, I only heard a jumble of sounds, and while still helpful, I wanted more.
Now I wake up every day and put my Ponto 4 on (never did that before, ever). It is like I am not even wearing anything! The sound quality is three-dimensional and speech “pops” out of the noise. I can hear speech in all directions on my left side. It is remarkable — after the start-up tone, you can hear the sounds all jumbled and amplified, but within a second or two, everything gets organized and cleaned up.
Also, I have never successfully streamed with any previous generation of Ponto. I could only hear audio if I plugged up my good ear, which in my opinion, defeats the purpose. With the Ponto 4, I’ve streamed sportscasts and phone calls while out in the yard working, walking down a busy road, and even in my car.
The sound streaming from my phone is excellent — clearer than from any other sound processor I have worn. I streamed for two hours one day while working outside with power tools and didn’t miss a word from the golf broadcast I was listening to.
Older technology made sounds seem two-dimensional — like a wall of sound coming at me all at once. The soundscape around me is three-dimensional with Ponto 4. Voices in many listening situations seem to have their own place in space.
Clear speech with Ponto 4 even in noise
Voices are clear, even in noise. I have plenty of headroom if I want it louder, and I would highly recommend Ponto 4 to SSD patients who are considering which Ponto to get. The device does not need as much volume to compensate for hearing because the speech information is what the device is emphasizing.
Ponto 4 is also smaller, which is a big part of my willingness to wear it more often. It supports my lifestyle, which includes running. I run a lot and wear my Ponto 4 for awareness on the street and trails. Because the Ponto 4 is very water-resistant, I don’t hesitate to wear it while I am active and on land. I’m also a dad with two kids so all of my other “recreation” opportunities are not mine. Nevertheless, I benefit from wearing my Ponto everywhere.
When I was not wearing a Ponto, I would have to really think and analyze my situation before, during, and after to ensure the best outcomes. It felt like a lot of work day in and day out. When I wear my Ponto 4, I don’t have to lean in to the conversation with my good ear or choose which seat to sit in so that everyone is on my “good side”. It used to be that if two people were talking to me with one on my left side and one on the right, I would have to turn slightly to my good (right) side to hear both equally. I never have to do that with my Ponto 4. In all, I have much more natural interactions with people on a daily basis. I feel better when I wear my device than when I don’t because it is less stressful when it is on.
It took getting the Ponto to really find out how much I had been compensating for my hearing loss. I realized how much work I was putting in daily and how much I was avoiding because of my hearing difficulties. I also realized how much I was missing that I wasn’t aware of during the 20+ years I did nothing. The new OPN™ technology is a game-changer. No other hearing aid or osseo-integrated device company can match the processing available in the Ponto 4.
My advice to anyone considering the Ponto 4? Try it out for yourself — what do you have to lose?
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Sandi Arcus is a Dispensing Audiologist in Nevada. Born with single-sided deafness (SSD), she as 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.
As both an expert in hearing health and someone with first-hand experience in hearing loss, Sandi kindly offered to share her initial thoughts (and a couple of homemade videos) from her trial of Oticon Medical’s Ponto 4 bone anchored hearing system (BAHS).
I did the initial setup myself, because I’m really picky and odd about my programming. My first impression was that the Ponto 4 sounded the closest to my normal hearing ear as any other hearing aid or BAHS has come close to. I was impressed but not surprised — if Oticon Medical releases a new processor, I know it won’t be good… it will be great!
Streaming phone calls and music with ease
I placed a call while streaming to the Ponto 4 and the person on the receiving end was impressed with the clarity. On my side, I was able to hear the speaker without issues. Streaming music was pretty impressive as well. It wasn’t tinny or hollow-sounding.
Ponto 4 passes the wind and noise test
I like to “beat up” my processor — push it to the limits — so I next planned to be a passenger in my car (Ponto side toward driver) with the windows down and music on. I don’t typically have the windows down when driving because I can’t hear (and it messes up my hair) so I knew this would really allow me to test the Ponto 4 out.
These videos don’t quite do it justice. I had the air conditioning blasting and the radio on pretty loud. My daughter and husband said they couldn’t hear each other or me, but I heard them.
Kudos Oticon Medical — you did it again!
I could never have heard either my husband or daughter in that noisy car without the Ponto 4. Knowing how OPN™ technology works helped me figure out the biggest difference: I still knew the noise was there. It wasn’t distorted. There wasn’t a sudden mic change that was audible. However, my brain knew that speech was what I needed to hear. Speech stood out naturally without strain and without compromise.
At 10 years old, Kim Russell was diagnosed with a chronic ear infection that could not be helped with antibiotics. She underwent a mastoidectomy to remove the infection, resulting in permanent hearing loss in her left ear. Her mother, having had the same issue when she was younger, also lost her hearing and therefore single-sided deafness (SSD) was a normal part of life in her family.
“School, work and social situations were hard, and the options were not as robust as they are now,” Kim said.
Kim became accustomed to living life with one good ear and didn’t receive intervention or aid until she was 25. Her job had hearing aid coverage and she looked into what options were available for her hearing loss. She discovered BiCROS hearing aids and wore them for 30 years. Although the hearing aids helped, no solution is perfect. Crowds were still difficult and loud places like bowling alleys and restaurants made it impossible to hear people speaking and know where sound was coming from. Her audiologist had never mentioned any other options, so she believed BiCROS was the only type of hearing loss solution available to her.
A chance encounter with a bone anchored hearing system
Kim stumbled upon a bone-anchored hearing system (BAHS) on Facebook when a friend happened to post a video at the right time. “One day on Facebook, a friend of mine who is a nurse posted a video on her Facebook page and normally it wouldn’t be anything I would pay attention to. It was something about a surgeon performing a surgery for the first time in West Michigan. They were doing a MIPS procedure (Minimally Invasive Ponto Surgery). He’s the only MIPS surgeon in this part of Michigan and they mentioned single-sided deafness. I did some research and realized this was for people like me!”
Kim searched for the name of the doctor’s office online and learned it was located in the building next door to her dentist. She scheduled an appointment, and learned she was a great candidate for the Ponto System. After trialing a Ponto BAHS on a softband for a week she had the MIPS surgery in July of 2018 and received a Ponto 3 SuperPower. “It was easier than a dental procedure. I was in, out, dressed and drinking coffee in about 58 minutes,” she said.
A new world of sound emerges with the Ponto 3 SuperPower
After Kim’s MIPS procedure and Ponto 3 SuperPower activation a new world of friends, advocacy, and interaction opened up to her.
“For the first time since getting my Ponto, I went for a walk with a friend. I’ve always kept people on my good ear (right side) so we put her on my left to see what would happen. I about jumped out of my skin. Her voice was clear and crisp, even with the radio blaring in the background.
The sound quality from trying the Ponto on a softband vs. an abutment is so much better, so crisp. I call it ‘organic’,” she explained.
As Kim has learned more about Ponto and become more involved in the hearing loss community, she has learned just how important advocacy is. “How did I go so long being hearing impaired and not knowing there were other options? This BAHA World Hearing Facebook group was where I received most of my education. It’s important for people to look into all of their options, and do their research.”
Kim’s advocacy and education came full circle last year after she attended Oticon Medical’s yearly advocacy conference. She met fellow Ponto users and collaborated with Oticon Medical staff.
“Before, I had never told anyone I wore any kind of hearing aid. This time, as soon as I got my abutment I shared it on Facebook because it’s important to get the word out. Knowing what was available made a difference in my life. Every now and then I notice the crispness of something I haven’t heard before. I hope advocacy and sharing my story can do the same for someone else.”
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Click the button if you want to learn more about our Ponto bone anchored hearing systems or arrange a trial.
In 1973, a snowmobile accident changed Carl Bjerke’s life. The accident, which resulted in head trauma, left Carl with permanent hearing loss on his left side. “My hearing was never checked and I just didn’t think much of it, and simply dealt with it,” he says.
His first hearing test
In 1980, Carl joined the U.S. Army as a mechanic but never told anyone about his hearing loss. “I had to constantly ask people ‘what did you say’ over and over again,” he says. It wasn’t until 1986 that Carl had his first hearing test and was officially diagnosed with single-sided deafness. He was given a crossover hearing aid, but quickly found it was too loud, especially for his position as a mechanic. “In just a few weeks, I found that it was overloading my good side, and I never wore it again,” he explains.
Trying a bone anchored hearing system
In 2008, Carl’s audiologist suggested he try a new technology—a Bone Anchored Hearing System (BAHS). They gave him a BAHS to try on a headband. As soon as he put the processor on, he noticed a huge difference in his hearing. “I could hear things on my left side that I couldn’t hear before,” he says. Once he returned the demo processor, he began his journey to have an abutment placed for his own Ponto Bone Anchored Hearing System.
“I really researched the units that were out there and was very logical in reviewing all the facts. I looked at all the data and the Ponto 3 SuperPower was the best option for me,” he explains.
A new world emerges
In 2017, after concluding that insurance would cover the cost of his BAHS, Carl had the surgery.Three months later, Carl’s Ponto 3 SuperPower was programmed and activated. He recounts leaving his audiologist’s office that day and hearing his wife speak to him for the first time while she was standing on his left side. “I could understand her without saying ‘what or excuse me,” he says.
Today, Carl works as a quality and safety manager with Diagnostic Group LLC in Minneapolis and no longer has to go to a meeting early to find a good seat so he can hear everyone. “I was doing an audit in Florida and I could carry on a conversation with everyone. Everyone’s voices were clearer,” he says. Using his Oticon Medical Streamer he is able to connect to his phone and when listening to music he says he gets ‘the full range of music’.
To those struggling with single-sided deafness (SSD), Carl says, “There is help for people with SSD. Get your hearing checked, you might also benefit from a Ponto Bone Anchored Hearing System.”
Find a clinic
Click the button if you want to learn more about our Ponto bone anchored hearing systems or arrange a trial.
Maybe you’ve heard from those who have made the switch from a different bone anchored hearing system to a Ponto. Maybe you’ve seen the data on how the Ponto Plus offers the best Bone Anchored Hearing System (BAHS) sound quality possible, and you’ve been thinking of upgrading your Ponto for a while.
You’ve been thinking about it, now what’s next?
First, it’s important that you have access to all of the information that will help you decide. Below, we’ve created a list of upgrade information that will equip you with what you need to know about leveling-up to the Ponto Plus—whether it’s from a different bone anchored hearing system, or you’re moving from an older Ponto model on up. You’ll find user stories about experiences upgrading, more about the upgrade process, Ponto product and accessory information and more.
The winter and holiday season is usually full of fun, family and friends. Today, we’re sharing tips collected from our community to make sure Bone Anchored Hearing System (BAHS) users get the most joy out of winter. From dealing with the noise of large group gatherings to unique winter hats, gear and gifts for family members with hearing loss, here’s what our community had to share.
In her post, “Holiday Madness, Seven Tips to Better Communication” Arlene Romoff shares a great reminder: “Realize that large social groups, especially around a large dining room table, are one of the most difficult environments for a person with a hearing loss.” Penny Feltham took to Twitter to share a great idea about reducing those unnecessary clunks that add to the noise.
There’s nothing more powerful than a concise and complete overview of a product—including bone anchored hearing systems. That’s why we put together this four minute video that offers a summary of the benefits and features of the Ponto Plus, the most powerful family of wireless sound processors.
Whether you’re just starting to learn about bone anchored hearing systems, you’re in the process of deciding which device is right for you, or you want others to understand what your Ponto Plus is, this video is a quick and easy tool.
This is just the kind of story we love sharing. In Nepal, a young girl born to a single mother now has the chance to grow and develop with better hearing thanks to the generosity of others and her family’s efforts to give her the best life possible.
With no ear specialists in her entire region or the funds for proper care, Asmita, born in Western Nepal without properly formed ears, faced an uphill battle.
Ear Aid Nepal and the British Society of Audiology recently shared Asmita’s story. Thanks to the volunteered efforts of Ear Aid Nepal, the International Nepal Fellowship (INF) and volunteer audiologists from the UK, Asmita was able to receive care. We were thrilled to donate two Ponto softbands to aid their efforts.