James and Ann Thornhill

Study puts patients at forefront of hearing technology

Patients at Salford Royal were among the first to try out a revolutionary new hearing aid.

The first ear-level super power sound processor has been launched following successful clinical trials which involved 10 existing patients at Salford Royal.

Salford Royal’s Audiology Department worked with Cochlear UK to test the new Baha ® (bone anchored hearing aid) 5 SuperPower.

Bone anchored hearing aids were first introduced in the 1970s and use the body’s ability to hear via vibrations through the bone (bone conduction).

Behind the ear (BTE) digital hearing aids, which are offered routinely, amplify sounds and send them through the ear canal and middle ear space to the organ of hearing (cochlear). But these hearing aids are not suitable for all types of hearing loss – people who have had repeated ear infections or have had to have surgery on their ear might not be able to use BTE digital hearing aids successfully.  Also, those who have Single Sided Deafness (SSD) and struggle with directionality of sound from their ‘deaf’ side may not be an ideal candidate for digital hearing aid amplification.

These people might instead be able to have a Baha that transmits sound by via the mastoid bone behind the ear. This involves a minor surgical procedure to have a titanium implant or a magnet fixed into the bone. This technology is available for adults and children subject to a formal Baha Assessment and medical suitability.*

There are a range of Bahas available for different degrees of hearing difficulty but until now those people with a more severe hearing loss and who were unable to hear effectively with the ear-level unit required a larger and heavier body-worn unit.

Because of Salford Audiology Service’s expertise in the Baha system and its active research portfolio, it was asked to test to new Baha 5 SuperPower. As well as being more powerful, it allows users to stream audio from a Bluetooth device or from an iPhone ® or iPad ®.

Patient James Thornhill was one of those involved and he has now featured in a short video,  ‘Jim’s new SuperPower’ about how it has improved his quality of life. The video is available on YouTube.

baha, hearing aid, audiology

Salford Royal’s Baha team, Paul Oddie, Glenn Robinson and Gemma Jones

Jim was fitted with the device by Specialist Audiologist Glenn Robinson, who uses a Baha himself. Glenn said: “It was lovely to see and hear the improvements that this has made for Jim and the impact it has had for both him and his wife, Anne.  As a service, we are committed to doing everything we can to respond to the needs of patients and their families and it’s really rewarding to be able to make such a difference.”

*How it works: The Baha’s sound processor captures sounds in the air and turns them into vibrations which are sent through an abutment (device on the side of the head) or magnetic connection to the small implant.  Some clients who are unable to have the surgical procedure may wear the Baha on a soft-band. The implant then transmits the vibrations through the bone directly to your inner ear. For further information visit www.cochlear.com