Bone Conduction Hearing Aids
The hearing aid industry is primarily focused on those who have partial or somewhat minimum hearing loss. The design of hearing aids that most of us know about are amplification devices with a microphone that picks up the sounds and sends them into the ear with a boost so a weakened ear can understand them more clearly. The advancements in conventional designs for hearing enhancement also make it possible to block out ranges of sound, surface noise and control other factors so the hearer hears sound that are more precise and not as affected by unrelated chatter around them.
This is a very successful approach to hearing management and it has helped countless thousands if not millions be able to live happier lives because hearing has been restored due to this technology. But in a small number of patients, this kind of technology is not effective. But these hearing loss sufferers are not left out entirely.
There is another design approach to hearing aid that actually transmits the vibrations of sounds into the bone of the hearing apparatus directly and this kind of hearing design can give even people with severe hearing loss problems some quality of hearing that restores a portion of what it means to be a hearing person.
This unique approach to hearing enhancement is called bone conduction. In a nutshell, these kinds of hearing aids don’t just magnify sound into the ear. Instead sound is picked up and translated into vibrations which are then sent to the bone of the inner hear. So the bone of the ear experiences "conduction" of the sound vibrations, which is somewhat how the ear functions when it is working correctly in the first place.
There are a number of conditions where the ear canal is blocked due to an injury, illness or birth defect in the ear. Ordinarily this would lead to deafness outright because the sounds cannot penetrate the blockage. But by using bone conduction, the device vibrates the skull in such a way that the brain interprets the vibrations which are converted from incoming sound and the patient is able to "hear" albeit not as well as a conventional ear might hear.
Bone conduction systems are obviously not nearly as commonly used as conventional hearing aids. When they were first designed, to be effective they had to be held to the patient's head with a tight headband that was not only very uncomfortable, it was conspicuous which made the use of such systems in public less desirable. But with advances in technology and medical science, it is now possible to implant a bone conduction hearing enhancement device in the ear so that it becomes a permanent part of the inside of the ear.
Not only does this new design work much better than the previous designs, once the system is in place, it is completely invisible to the outside world and maintenance free. The user has to get used to "listening" with the aid of this kind of device but for people who otherwise would be deaf, this kind of hearing enhancement is a tremendous blessing to them and to their loved ones as well.