New device restores hearing

Health Watch

CINCINNATI, Ohio. (Ivanhoe Newswire)—About 15 percent of all American adults report some trouble hearing, yet fewer than one in three people who could benefit from hearing aids have ever used them. Now, a new hearing implant has the potential to help people with hearing issues who have been unable to use devices in the past.

For the millions of Americans who have trouble hearing, hearing aids or implantable devices can be life-changing. For some, infection or injury to the ear has made that difficult, but now specialists are implanting a new device that gives patients another option. It’s called the Bonebridge—what’s known as a bone conduction device.

“If you tap your skull, you can actually hear sound within the bone itself,” illustrated Ravi N. Samy, MD, FACS, Professor of Otolaryngology & Neurosurgery and Chief of the Division of Otology/Neurotology at University of Cincinnati.

With normal hearing, sound vibrations go through the outer ear, into the inner ear. The Bonebridge is surgically implanted, and bypasses the damaged outer ear, by picking up sounds and sending them directly to the inner ear through the bones of the skull.

“I’ll just make an incision behind the ear, open up the skin behind the ear, and then actually drill into the bone and then put the device into the bone,” explained Dr. Samy.

Patients wear an external sound processor, which is magnetically held in place over the implant. When audiologists activate the device, it restores the patient’s hearing.

The Bonebridge works best for people with conductive, mixed hearing loss or single-sided deafness, and is an option for those who have trouble wearing hearing aids.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive & Field Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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