Bone Anchored Hearing Aids
Medical science and technology has given us a variety of ways to deal with hearing loss. And the success of hearing aid technology is so widespread that you can probably think of one or two people in your own life that have benefited from a hearing aid. What you might not know is that one of the most effective forms of hearing aid technology are the ones that other people will never see because they are bone anchored which means they virtually become part of the ear.
Most hearing aids are "worn" in a similar way that glasses are worn by the owner. Conventional hearing aids are put on by inserting the device in the ear where it serves as a very small amplifier. But the very name of a "bone anchored" device lets you know the big differences and in the way an implanted hearing aid works. Instead of being worn on the outside, the bone anchored approach is installed in the ear surgically. Not only does this mean you do not have to fuss with taking it out and putting it in, it is also invisible to the outside world so nobody really knows you are using a hearing amplification device at all.
The way the bone anchored design works is also dramatically different than most hearing aid. Instead of just amplifying sound as it enters the ear, the bone anchored system sends the sound directly through the bone of the inner ear which is far more effective. The three elements of this kind of hearing aid which are the sound processor, the implanted part and the external sound collection unit all work together to take sound and pass it deep into the ear where it is then processed. This is a novel approach because most hearing aids use the middle ear and the structure of the ear canal to amplify sound. The bone connected design bypasses both of those parts of the ear entirely to begin sending sound to the individual at the connection to the bone.
Because the bone anchoring style of hearing support does not use the middle or outer ear at all, it is ideal for people with damage to those parts of their ear which is common in an ear infection situation. In fact the bone anchoring system can even help people who have lost hearing in one ear entirely by anchoring just outside the affecting ear and sending the sound to the good ear and creating the same effect as being able to hear with two ears.
There are some real values to this approach to hearing amplification. Some might object to minor surgery to implant a bone anchored system but it is so much more comfortable that those objections vanish pretty fast. And when you can hear again when you once could not, that makes any small surgery concerns worth enduring.