The Bone Anchored Hearing Aid, or Baha system, is comprised of a sound processor, an abutment and a small titanium implant that is implanted in the bone behind your ear. The Baha system was originally developed for patients with conductive or mixed hearing loss and was later found to be beneficial for patients with single-sided deafness.
Sound waves are first received by the sound processor and then changed into vibrations. The vibrations from the sound processor are transferred from the abutment to the titanium implant. The implant then uses direct bone conduction to transfer the sound vibrations to the functioning cochlea.
For a person with a conductive hearing loss where the outer or middle ear is blocked and a mixed hearing loss where both the middle and inner ear is blocked hearing aids will increase the sound until it is forced through the blockage. This effect will be like turning up the stereo too loud and with higher volume so that the sound becomes distorted and uncomfortable. The Baha system will re-route the signal through the skull bone directly to the inner ear and avoid distortion and feedback.
For single-sided deafness the Baha processor transfers the sound to the healthy cochlea, which makes it possible to hear sound from both sides.
There are several types of hearing loss that can be helped with the Baha System.
Someone with a conductive hearing loss where the outer or middle ear is blocked or a mixed hearing loss where both the middle and inner ear is blocked may be a candidate. Also it has been shown that someone with normal hearing in one ear and total deafness (single-sided deafness) in the other ear may be a candidate.
For someone with a conductive hearing loss the Baha system re-routes the signal through the skull bone to the inner ear bypassing the outer or middle ear.
For someone with a mixed hearing loss the Baha system can bypass the outer or middle ear problems and provides the appropriate amount of amplification to the inner ear.
For someone with single sided deafness the Baha system transfers sound directly to the healthy cochlea so it is possible to hear from both sides.
First you must have a medical evaluation with a physician that is specially trained in the Baha system.
The physician may require audiological testing to help determine your candidacy. If the physician determines you are a candidate for the Baha system he will refer you to the audiologist for a trial with the Baha processor. After this trial with the processor and the evaluation with the physician it will be determined if you are a candidate for the surgery. The surgery is done as an outpatient and after several months of healing you will return for the fitting with the sound processor. The audiologist will demonstrate how to put on the processor and review how the processor works and how to care for it and the abutment site.
Southwest Ohio ENT Specialists presently uses the Cochlear Americas Baha system. They have multiple sound processors available and it is possible to have a trial with them before making a decision on which one works best for your hearing loss.
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