Tag Archives: testimonial

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.

A Nurse’s Journey to Better Hearing with Ponto 5 Mini

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!

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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.”

Christina goes rock climbing with Ponto 5 Mini.

 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!)

Ready to try a Ponto 5 Mini? Find a clinic near you!

Enjoying Life with the New Ponto 5 Mini

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.

As both an expert in hearing health and someone with first-hand experience in hearing loss, Sandi kindly offered to share her opinion about her new PontoTM 5 Mini bone anchored hearing system (BAHS) from Oticon Medical.

Sandi Arcus Tests Out Ponto 5 Mini

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!

Ponto 4 Wearer Shannon Shares the Joy of Discovering New Sounds

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.

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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?!”

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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!

If you are considering whether to take the next step and getting a Ponto bone anchored hearing system, we can help:

Michael Brown’s Advice: Don’t Hesitate – Get that Ponto Now

We’re please to share a brand-new user story from Canadian advocate Michael Brown. He advises others with hearing loss to overcome their hesitation to undergo minimally-invasive Ponto surgery (MIPS) based on his experience living with untreated hearing loss for 35 years.

“The Ponto 4 is a close to natural hearing that I’ve ever come across,”  In this segment, Michael shares his thoughts on the Ponto 4, which he upgraded to earlier this year.

Is MIPS right for you or your loved one? How about the Ponto 4? Start here to learn all about Ponto and the MIPS procedure.

No Regrets: Kevin Chooses Ponto 4

Kevin Hotaling and his father Timothy spoke to us during an event earlier this year about Kevin’s experience using Ponto 4. In the first segment of this video, Kevin shares which Ponto 4 feature has been “a dream” of his for a long time.

Both Kevin and his father were impressed by Kevin’s ability to hear more clearly despite background noise with Ponto 4. “You could see, it was just making such a difference,” Timothy notes.

Superior quality, confidence boosting. That’s Ponto 4!

Are YOU ready to upgrade your hearing device? Click to learn how!

Lori Novara Sings the Praises of Ponto 4

Lori Novara missed out on a lot in school because her bilateral hearing loss wasn’t identified until she was a pre-teen. It turned out traditional hearing aids couldn’t help, because wearing them caused her to develop ear infections.

Lori discovered the Oticon Medical bone anchored hearing system and got her first Ponto devices in 2003. She has been so happy with her Pontos ever since that she became one of top our patient Ambassadors.

Today, Lori regularly talks to people about the hearing challenges she faced and how getting a BAHS changed her life for the better. In this video, she shares her thoughts on upgrading to Ponto 4 and her experiences with her new devices. 

Lori was impressed by everything her new Ponto 4s were able to do, especially when it comes to holding conversations in noisy environments. 

Lori enjoys the boost to her confidence provided by her Ponto 4s. She told us she feels safer now that she can not only hear sound all around her, but is better able to identify the correct direction from which the sound is coming. This helps her feel better about going out into different environments alone.

One anecdote Lori shared that didn’t make it into this video drives home how powerful Ponto 4 really is.

One morning, while staying at a hotel, Lori heard a “dinging” noise in her room. She searched everything trying to figure out what it was but couldn’t find the source. She opened her hotel door and realized she could hear the “ding” outside even louder than in her room.

She walked down the hallway until she was in front of another room’s closed door. It was then she realized, “Oh my gosh, that’s an alarm clock!” She was amazed that Ponto 4 allowed her to hear an alarm clock going off in a room three doors down the hall through closed doors.

That’s the power of Ponto 4!

Ready to upgrade to Ponto 4? Click the button and we’ll tell you how!

Lucy Brown Loves Ponto 4!

Part 3: Heading in the right direction

In Part 2 of this story, Lucy and her mom Georgene shared how Ponto 4 has helped Lucy leave the shadows and feel like a full participant in whatever environment she finds herself in. This week, in the third and final segment of their Ponto 4 testimonial, Lucy and Georgene explain the importance of knowing from which direction a sound is coming and how Ponto 4 has made that easier than ever before.

How is Georgene dealing with giving Lucy more independence now that she’s growing up? Having Ponto 4 certainly is helping ease her concerns with regards to Lucy’s safety.

Thank you, Lucy and Georgene, for sharing your experience with the Ponto 4! We’re so fortunate to have you as valued members of our Oticon Medical bone anchored hearing system family.

Viewers: do you have a Ponto 4 story you’d like to share with others who might be considering an upgrade? Please feel free to contact us at [email protected] and let us know!

Ready to upgrade your processor? Click to learn how!

Lucy Brown Loves Ponto 4!

Part 2: Joining the crowd

 

Last week, we premiered Part 2 of a new Ponto 4 video story from Lucy Brown. In Part 2, Lucy and her mother, Georgene, share even more reasons why they’re glad Lucy upgraded her bone anchored hearing system! 

Lucy first tried out Ponto 4 during a visit to Nashville, where she had the opportunity to wear it in some pretty loud and crowded environments. In this video, Georgene shares: “Yesterday, we sure put Ponto 4 to the test.”

Did it pass? Watch and find out!

Tune in next week for the third and final installment of Lucy’s Ponto 4 user story.

Ready to upgrade your processor? Click to learn how!

Lucy Brown Loves Ponto 4!

Part 1: Out of the shadows

 

We’re excited to premiere a new Ponto 4 video story from Miss Lucy Brown! Lucy was a Ponto 3 wearer, but when Ponto 4 became available, she upgraded. Now, she shares what she thinks about life with Ponto 4 and all the ways it’s helping her live her best life.

What are three big reasons Lucy loves her Ponto 4? We’ll let her tell you in her own words.

Did you know Lucy’s an accomplished gymnast? Take a look at her impressive moves! Mom Georgene joins in to ask what else Lucy likes about her Ponto 4.

Find out what else Lucy and Georgene think about Ponto 4 in Part 2… coming soon! 

Ready to upgrade to Ponto 4? Click to learn how!