Bone Anchored Hearing Device (BAHA)
Some hearing losses are a result of sound not effectively reaching the inner ear due to problems in the ear canal and/or the middle ear. This results in a conductive loss. In this case, or when there is no usable hearing in one ear, the Bone Anchored Hearing Aid (BAHA) may be the best option for improved hearing. The BAHA system, which is based on bone conduction, utilizes a titanium implant, which is placed in the skull bone behind the non-functioning ear. An abutment connects the sound processor with the implant in the bone.
The implantation of the BAHA is a simple procedure done in the operating room which takes approximately 1 hour. A special skin graft is performed behind the ear, and the skin follicles and fat are removed from the scalp. A hole is drilled into the skull and the titanium screw and abutment are inserted together. The skin is brought over the abutment, and a small hole is made in the skin through which the abutment protrudes. The skin is sewn back into position and dressings are applied. There is little post-operative pain and patients are able to return to most functions of their lives the next day. The skin is usually healed within 2 weeks, but the BAHA is not worn for 2 months, giving time for the bone to osseo-integrate into the titanium screw.
There are many advantages to BAHA:
- Direct bone conduction allows the recipient to hear sounds more clearly and naturally.
- Potential recipients can easily test the BAHA so that they can experience the benefits before they have surgery.
- The BAHA is comfortable to wear; recipients say that they forget that they have it on.
- The BAHA is in use by thousands of individuals around the world. The outcomes are predictable and well documented.
- The BAHA procedure is reversible and does not damage or harm residual hearing. Additionally, the Baha system does not preclude any benefits from future hearing technological advances because it doesn’t compromise middle or inner ear or compromise hearing nerve sensitivity.
- Many insurance companies pay for the surgical procedure and some pay for the processor.
- BAHA can be worn by patients of all ages who require this type of hearing solution.
Our licensed audiologists are able to determine whether a traditional hearing aid or a BAHA device is most appropriate for you.
A cochlear implant is an electronic medical device that replaces the function of the damaged inner ear. Unlike hearing aids, which make sounds louder, cochlear implants do the work of damaged parts of the inner ear (cochlea) to provide sound signals to the brain.
Cochlear implants systems consist of both internal and external components. The internal device is surgically implanted and requires an external sound processor to function. The sound processor can be worn at ear level and consists of a microphone, processor, and transmitting coil that connects with the internal device on the scalp behind the ear.
Cochlear implants can help people who:
- Have moderate to profound hearing loss in both ears
- Have profound hearing loss in one ear with normal hearing in the other ear
- Receive little or no benefit from hearing aids
- Score 65% or less on sentence recognition tests done by the audiologist in the ear to be implanted
Once candidacy is determined, the patient is scheduled for a medical consultation with our cochlear implant surgeon, Benjamin J. Copeland, M.D., Ph.D. Dr. Copeland may require additional diagnostic tests to determine the status of the inner ear.
Cochlear implant surgery is typically an outpatient procedure, performed under general anesthesia. It lasts approximately two hours. During the procedure, the surgeon exposes the mastoid bone behind the ear canal and drills a small channel to the inner ear. The electrodes are threaded into the inner ear and the receiver coil is placed in the bone behind the ear. The skin is closed over the receiver/stimulator. A pressure bandage is placed to reduce swelling around the incision.
After surgery, you’ll need to allow four to six weeks for healing. After everything is healed, “fitting” the external parts takes place. During the initial activation, the headpiece and microphone are placed over the implant. The speech processor is connected to the headpiece and the audiologist’s computer. The audiologist activates the electrodes individually and the cochlear implant user indicates when sound is detected and when it is comfortably loud. These measurements are used to program or “MAP” the speech processor for the implant recipient.
Subsequent programming and evaluations are completed as recommended by the cochlear implant audiologist.
Nothing is more important to realizing the benefits of having a cochlear implant than auditory rehabilitation therapy. Auditoryrehabilitation, utilizes structured activities that should be carried over into real life to optimize the use of thenew signal. It may involve exercises to discriminate between specific sounds or to identify single words. Many professionals suggest that individuals generally will need to master discrimination and identification of specific sounds and words in order to be successful at thenext level of listening — that involving comprehension of statements and questions and effective participation in conversation.Improvements following initial programming sessions tend to happen quickly, but further improvements can surface for many months and even years with auditory rehabilitation. The involvement of your family and friends in the therapeutic process greatly enhances success.
Please contact our cochlear implant audiologist, Julie Bower, at 317-962-5690 for any cochlear implant related questions. All cochlear implant audiology appointments are conveniently performed at our IU Health Methodist Hospital location in downtown Indianapolis.