The BAHA system is an implantable bone conduction hearing system. It’s a powerful tool using the body’s natural ability to conduct sound. Bone, like air, can transmit sound vibrations. For those who struggle with hearing loss, this gives them another pathway through which to receive sound.
Typical hearing aids rely on air conduction and a middle ear that functions properly. Unfortunately, when the middle ear is blocked, damaged or otherwise compromised, a bone conduction system is a better option. It bypasses the outer and inner ear altogether. BAHA sends sound around the damaged or problematic area and naturally stimulates the cochlea through bone conduction.
When the bone receives the sound vibrations, it hears just like it would if it were conducted by air. The sound is converted into neural signals and gets transferred to the brain, providing the perception of sound.
Who Are Bone Conduction Implants Good For?
Bone conduction implants are good options for people with conductive hearing loss, a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss, which is known as “mixed hearing loss”, or single-sided deafness (SSD). Conductive hearing loss can be caused by many factors such as middle ear infections, head injuries that damage the middle ear, congenital malformation of the ear, diseases like otosclerosis (abnormal bone growth in the middle ear), and cholesteatoma (abnormal skin growth in the middle ear behind the ear drum). Middle ear masses and tumors can also cause conductive hearing loss.
Single-Sided Deafness (SSD) occurs when there is very little or no hearing in one ear. The other ear functions normally. It can be caused by sudden deafness, which is a rapid hearing loss of unknown cause, possibly the result of a viral infection. Tumors on the hearing nerve, head injuries, ototoxicity (taking medications that result in hearing problems) and Meniere’s Disease are also causes of SSD.
The BAHA system overcomes these issues with a simple design comprised of just three components.
- A sound processor that picks up sound vibrations.
- A small titanium implant that transfers sound vibrations to the functioning cochlea.
- An abutment that attaches the sound processor to the implant and transfers sound vibrations from the processor to the implant.
Installation of the BAHA system requires a straightforward surgery. The implant is placed behind the non-functioning ear. After about three months for adults and six for children, it bonds with the bone around it, forming a permanent structure with the living bone in a process known as osseointegration. Once the osseointegration happens, the sound processor is attached to the abutment. This enables the recipient to hear with the BAHA system.