Small option for big hearing gains

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As those who have higher levels of mixed hearing loss know, help that comes in the form of a so-called osseointegrated device has been limited to devices that require a wire that leads out from the device and into a smartphone-size module that’s carried or worn on the body. Now hear this: Food and Drug Administration approved in March 2016 the Baha 5 SuperPower Sound Processor, which does away with the body-worn module in favor of a small yet equally powerful over-the-ear component.

Although osseointegrated devices that operate without the body-worn module exist, they’re useful for those who have a lower level of mixed hearing loss (up to 45 decibels [db] SNHL). The manufacturer of the Baha 5 SuperPower Sound Processor says the new device is powerful enough for those who have a higher level of mixed hearing loss (46–65 db SNHL).

Mixed hearing loss occurs when the inner ear and middle ear are affected versus one part of the ear.

Dr. Eric Smouha, who is the director of otology at Mount Sinai Hospital, and Michael Scott, who is the auditory implant program coordinator at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, confirm the manufacturer’s claims.

Also, the new system has smart features that direct phone calls straight through the device, stream media and allow the user to operate his/her phone as a remote microphone.

Smouha and Scott recommend it to their patients and believe that the product will provide a “better quality of hearing than [patients] would [receive] with a conventional hearing aid.” Smouha tells Consumers Digest.

The technology that’s in the systems that lack a body-worn module wasn’t strong enough to address higher degrees of mixed hearing loss, Smouha says.