[tabi] for those with hearing loss

  • From: "Chip Orange" <Corange@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2012 13:49:21 -0400

This sounds very interesting (oops, forgive the inadvertent pun!):



New Hearing Aid: Worn Where?!


Imagine being completely deaf in one ear.

You can hear most things but not soft sounds that come from your deaf
side...and you

tend to have trouble with


, telling which direction sounds come from.

For the nine million people in the US who suffer from this type of
hearing loss,

there have been only two main options, until recently.

One uses a microphone in the deaf ear that sends sounds via radio
signals to a processor

that sits on the working ear. The other option is a device that's
surgically implanted

into the skull (behind the deaf ear) that captures sound and conducts it

skull bones to the working ear. Both options help patients hear more
sounds and even

improve directionality in some patients, but the first option doesn't
provide good

sound quality...and the second option, because it involves surgery and a

implant, isn't something many people want to do, said Michael Seidman,
MD, an ear,

nose and throat specialist at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit.

But now, there's new audio technology that helps you hear more
sounds...may improve

directionality...provides good quality sound...and doesn't require
surgery or wearing

unsightly devices in both ears. In fact, when you use the system, you
can hardly

see it or feel it.

What's wild is that one part of this new technology is worn where you
would never

expect it-inside the mouth!


SoundBite is the first nonsurgical hearing device that works by using
bone conduction.

To illustrate that concept, think of how noisy it sounds when you
scratch your scalp

or munch on crunchy foods, such as carrots or ice cubes.

What you're hearing is the sound being conducted through the bones in
your skull

or mouth, instead of through the normal route, which is through the air
and then

into the ear. Eventually, whether through the air or the bones, the
sound arrives

at the inner ear,

the cochlea. From there, the signals are sent to the brain.


This is how SoundBite works: A tiny microphone sits just inside the

ear and is attached by a small, clear wire to a small black device that
hides behind

the back of that ear. The microphone picks up sounds and wirelessly
sends the signal

to a small receiver that is custom-made by a dentist to clip behind two

upper back teeth. From there, the sounds are converted to miniscule,

vibrations that are sent through the teeth and skull bones and
eventually to both

cochleas, and then the functioning cochlea sends the vibrations as
sounds to the


Both parts of the device are comfortable and removable. The in-the-mouth
part can

be worn while eating and drinking. You can take it out when you brush
your teeth

and floss, and you can take it out before bed if you prefer not to sleep
with it.

Both parts should last for about three years. The part in the mouth
needs to be charged

every six to eight hours, and the behind-the-ear part needs to be
charged every nine

to 11 hours. (You get two in-the-mouth parts when you buy the device, so
one can

charge while you're wearing the other.) Charging each takes about



Research shows that the technology doesn't cause damage to teeth. It
won't restore

hearing in the deaf ear, but the average improvement in detecting speech
is about

26%, and 95% of users have said that they would recommend the system to
a friend.

There is no research yet proving that the device improves directional
hearing, but

Dr. Seidman noted that it tends to improve directionality in some

the same amount as the two older devices.

The quality of hearing, as mentioned earlier, tends to be good when
sound is conducted

through bone. "But it'll never be exactly as crisp as what you'd hear

I learned from Joanna Roufos, AuD, CCC-A, a doctor of audiology at

Audiology in New York. The good news is that with the SoundBite, and
with any of

the devices, you'll hear a full range of frequencies-from bass to

SoundBite is available at more than 50 hearing centers in the US. If
you're interested

in learning more about it, use the "Find a Doctor" tool at



The SoundBite system is expensive-it costs about $6,800, and replacement
parts cost

a total of roughly $3,700 every three years. But none of the three
options is cheap.

For comparison, the surgical option costs about $10,000 and you'll
likely need to

replace the outer processor, which costs about $4,700, every five to 10
years. With

the older nonsurgical option, the two wireless ear pieces (a microphone
for one ear

and a receiver for the other ear) cost around $3,000 or more. Insurance

for each device varies.


Michael D. Seidman, MD, an ear, nose and throat specialist, director,
division of

otologic/neurotologic surgery, department of otolaryngology-head and
neck surgery,

Henry Ford Health System, Detroit.

Joanna Roufos, AuD, CCC-A, doctor of audiology at Manhattan/Queens
Audiology, Hellenic

Medical Center, New York City.

Listing Details


Daily Health News

Original publication date:

October 16, 2012

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  • » [tabi] for those with hearing loss - Chip Orange