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December 22, 2004

New Device Helps With Single-sided Deafness

From:, NC - Dec 22, 2004

Childhood ear infections led to deafness in Jim Inendino's left ear.

But this bone-anchored hearing aid, or baha brought the sound back.

"I didn't believe. I was hearing, you know? I thought someone was playing a trick on me," said Inendino.

In a conventional hearing aid, sound is amplified and sent through the ear canal. But people with single-sided deafness often have damaged eardrums or hearing bones. So the baha bypasses the ear canal and transmits sound through the skull.

"The skull vibrates both cochleas, which are the inner ear organs causing fluid to move in those organs stimulating the nerve endings and allowing us to hear," said Dr. Sam Marzo.

During surgery, doctors implant a small titanium screw in the skull behind the ear. Once that heals, patients snap on a sound processor with a volume control.

Patients say the baha not only gives them better hearing, it helps them judge where the sound is coming from.

"You can do things where you're not turning your head different ways to see what you have to do or who is speaking with you," said Sharon Cornier.

Dr. Marzo says he sees about two to three patients a week who are candidates for the baha.

"Sometimes people are told, 'Oh there's nothing that could be done'. You know, 'you're stuck with it', but that is no longer the case," he said.

"I just had accepted the fact that it was just going to be the way it was," said Inendino.

But now after 35 years, Jim hears both sides of the conversation.

For information on the bone-anchored hearing aid, or BAHA® System:

For general information on hearing loss:
American Academy of Audiology,
American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery,
American Speech-Hearing Language Association,
Better Hearing Institute,
Centers for Disease Control,

Copyright 2004 by All rights reserved.