Bone Conduction Hearing Aids
What is a bone conduction hearing aid?
A bone conduction hearing aid (sometimes referred to as a bone anchored hearing aid or “BAHA”) is a special type of hearing aid that works by sending vibrations directly to the bone behind your ear (“mastoid”) instead of inside of the ear canal. It can be worn on a headband or connected to a small screw or magnet which has been surgically placed in the skull.
Why get a bone conduction hearing aid instead of a traditional hearing aid?
Research suggests that bone conduction hearing aids provide benefit for special types of hearing loss. They are most beneficial when the hearing organ (“cochlea”) and hearing nerve do not have damage (or only a small amount of damage), but there is damage to the ear canal or middle ear (“conductive” or “mixed” hearing loss). Bone conduction hearing aids are also appropriate for people who have normal hearing in one ear and are deaf in the other ear. Bone conduction hearing aids are not the best option for people who have hearing loss that is completely caused by nerve damage (“sensorineural hearing loss”).
Who can get a bone conduction hearing aid?
Anyone with conductive or mixed hearing loss, or profound hearing loss in one ear,
can trial a bone conduction hearing aid.
If the person chooses to have their bone conduction hearing aid connected to their head with a medical implant, they must have surgery from an ear doctor (“otologist”). Anyone interested in a bone conduction hearing aid implant must have testing done by both an audiologists and otologist to confirm they are a candidate. This usually takes multiple visits. These visits include:
- Basic tests of hearing
- A bone conduction hearing aid trial
- Several tests of speech understanding
- A medical referral to an otologist who may also require other testing
What happens after someone is determined to be a bone conduction hearing aid candidate?
If the audiologist and otologist determine that the person would benefit from a bone conduction hearing aid, they will be fit with the device in a way that is comparable to a traditional hearing aid. If the person has decided to have a bone conduction hearing aid implant, the person will be scheduled for outpatient surgery. After surgery, the person must heal for approximately six weeks to three months before their bone conduction hearing aid can be turned on (“activated”). They will have several appointments with the audiologist in the first few months so their device can be fine-tuned.
Will my insurance pay for a bone conduction for hearing aid?
Insurance coverage for bone condition hearing aids varies.
What else do I need to know about bone conduction hearing aids?
Research tells us when a child has hearing loss, seeking treatment as soon as possible leads to the best outcomes. If you think your child could benefit from a bone conduction hearing aid, do not delay in asking your doctor about an evaluation.