A Discussion of the Cochlear BAHA
What is a BAHA?
A BAHA or Bone Anchored Hearing Implant is a hearing assisitive device for patients with largely conductive hearing loss (from birth or acquired causes) or single sided deafness.
Who can benefit from a Cochlear Baha?
A Cochlear Baha can be an effective solution for people with the following hearing impairments:
1. Bilateral conductive hearing loss
2. Congenital ear malformations
3. Single sided deafness (SSD)
4. Hearing loss where air conduction hearing aids are not an option due to chronic conditions of outer ear.
What benefit will I receive from a Cochlear Baha?
Baha is the only implanted hearing treatment that works through direct bone conduction by combining a sound processor with a small titanium implant placed behind the ear. The system allows sound to be conducted through the skull bypassing the ear canal and middle ear. This process is known as direct bone conduction. The device helps to overcome many of the drawbacks of a conventional bone conduction hearing aid by providing a direct transmission pathway to the cochlear.
Will I be able to hear music with a Cochlear Baha?
Many Baha recipients enjoy and appreciate music however there are many factors that influence progress such as prior experience with music, motivation and practice, as music is comprised of many complex sounds.
Will I have to limit my sports activity? How about swimming?
A Cochlear Baha will not limit your swimming or sports activity. For more active or contact sports, it is suggested that you wear a helmet to protect your equipment.
For swimming, you will need to remove the external component (much like a hearing aid). The abutment is not affected by water. However, without the external component, you will not be able to hear.
What accessories can be used with a Baha?
An audio accessories adaptor is available for the Baha that allows direct audio input. There are many other accessory options for the different Baha devices. It is best to discuss these options with your Baha professionals.
Are there any age restrictions to receiving a Baha?
It is best to discuss this with your hearing health professional, but bone quality is an important factor that needs to be considered. In general a BAHA in a patient over the age of 6 is safe.
What about the future of Baha technology – will I be able to access it?
New sound processor technology will always be developed so that recipients with previous generation technology will be able to access and upgrade to these advances. The technology is built into the external component, allowing for easy upgrades. No new surgery is involved in acquiring the future Baha technologies.
How long does surgery take?
The surgery between one to two hours under either general or local anesthesia. The recipient will usually be discharged from hospital the same day, or the day after. Most people return to normal activities within a few days to a week. The surgery is routine in nature and most people experience only minimal discomfort. Your surgeon can tell you more about the process when you meet with them.
What happens during surgery?
It is better to discuss this with your surgeon.
What should I expect after surgery?
The external part of the Baha, the sound processor, will be fitted around 2 to 3 months after surgery. Time must be taken for the abutment to settle and heal. The patient should be well informed, have the right expectations and be motivated before getting the Baha system. How well you hear may depend on many factors.
What are the risks of surgery?
There is a risk with all surgical procedures. The commonest problem with the Baha implant is intermittent superficial skin infections around the implant, that are usually minor. These can usually be resolved with antibiotics and cleaning.
Injury to the brain or brain fluid leak is extremely rare. The Baha titanium implant is placed in the skull and usually there is thick skull bone or thick brain lining (dura) between the implant and the brain tissue. Brain fluid does not leak around the implant at all.
If you are considering the Cochlear Baha implant system, It is important to discuss the surgery at length with your surgeon. Some risks will be those applicable to any surgery performed under general anesthesia while others will be specific to the Baha process and the recipient’s individual medical history.
Cost of a Cochlear Baha
How much does a Baha cost? Will my health insurance pay for it?
Costs include the cost of the implant system; surgical costs, pre and post implant assessment and support. In Australia, individuals with private health cover at an appropriate level are fully covered for the device cost. For non-private patients, it is best to discuss the options with your surgeon.
Next Steps – Baha
Where do I go to talk to someone about getting a Cochlear Baha?
Step One: Make an appointment to discuss BAHA with our BAHA Surgeon, Dr Nirmal Patel.
Step Two: Undergo a medical evaluation
Step Three: See a Baha audiologist at Norwest Hearing or Northside Hearing Implant Centre (trial Baha)
Step Four: Schedule your surgery date
Step Five: Switch on your Baha (2 to 3 months after surgery)
As this is new technology, some of our patients are more than happy to talk to you about their Baha experience. To speak to Norwest ENT Group BAHA recipients regarding the Cochlear Baha contact:
Susan (patient) (H) 02 9639 0824 (M) 0425 302 989
Richard (patient of Dr Nirmal Patel) (H) 9838 7668 (M) 0408 464 185
Robert (patient) (H) 02 9869 1033
Peter (patient) (H) 02 4572 3601 (M) 0412 868 320
Naomi (patient) (H) 02 9997 2452 (M) 0414 977 000
Andrew (patient) (M) 0419 237 267
Norwest ENT Group BAHA Surgeon Dr Nirmal Patel’s Contact Numbers:
T 1300 85 93 94 (Norwest Main Office)
T 02 9439 1199 (Norwest Lower North Shore)
For more information regarding the Cochlear Baha contact:
Tollfree (Aust) 1800 620 929
Visit the web: www.cochlear.com
When your hearing aids are not enough. To enjoy Simply Better Hearing click here
Adapted with permission from Cochlear Corporation Material.
Reproduction in part or whole of this material is restricted by copyright law unless express written permission is granted by the Norwest ENT Group.
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