The bone anchored hearing aid (or Baha) is a surgically implanted system for treating hearing loss. The system uses direct bone conduction, where sound is conducted through the bone rather than through the middle ear and has been used successfully since 1977. FDA approval in the United States came in 1996, allowing its use as treatment for conductive and mixed hearing loss.
The Baha has three main parts. There is an implant, an external abutment and a sound processor. These three parts work together to enhance natural bone transmission and provides a pathway for sound to enter the inner ear that bypasses the external auditory canal and middle ear.
The implant consists of a tiny titanium piece, which is put in place through a surgical procedure. It integrates with the natural skull bone over time. The sound processor transmits sound vibrations through the external abutment that sends the vibrations through to the bone. The vibration of the skull and inner ear stimulate the nerve fibers in the inner ear, allowing hearing.
Who is a candidate for the Baha?
The Baha is a good solution for people who have suffered hearing loss due to chronic ear infections or congenital middle ear defects. The device bypasses the outer and middle ear areas to get to the inner ear. As long as the inner ear is intact and functions properly, the Baha can be successfully used. Those who continue to suffer from ear infections will find that the device does not aggravate the situation as other types of hearing aid often do. People who have congenital defects that prevented good hearing will find excellent results when using the Baha.
The bone anchored hearing aid is also a good option for those who have trouble adapting to the feel of a traditional hearing aid. Not only does it alleviate discomfort problems but it can also help relieve problems related to feedback and amplification that are resolved when using the Baha.
What about those with deafness in one ear?
One of the best things about the Baha is that it helps those with a deaf ear. Prior to Baha, people with unilateral deafness did not have many satisfactory options for improved hearing. Recently, the Baha was cleared by the FDA as a solution for unilateral deafness. The Baha hearing aid is placed on the side of the deaf ear. It transmits sounds from the deaf ear to the normal ear, resulting in a sensation of hearing in the deaf ear.
What are the best features of the Baha?
No other type of hearing aid can adequately address the specific needs of those with outer and middle ear problems as well as deafness in one ear. The bone anchored hearing aid is much more comfortable than most types of hearing aid. Once it is properly implanted, the Baha is unobtrusive and often undetectable. The Baha can’t slip or loosen, as other normal hearing aids tend to do from time to time. There is nothing to re-fit. Once implanted it is ready.