What are bone-anchored hearing systems?
Bone-anchored hearing systems (BAHS) are a category of devices used to treat some ear conditions that interfere with hearing.
BAHS devices give patients access to speech and language by bypassing impairments of the external ear (the visible part of the ear) or middle ear and sending sound vibrations directly to the inner ear. BAHS devices are commonly placed on the head near the ear. They can be held in place with a softband or a surgically implanted abutment or magnet.
Who can benefit from a bone-anchored hearing system?
Children and adults with permanent bilateral, unilateral conductive, or mixed hearing loss can benefit from a BAHS. People with single-sided deafness can also benefit.
Conditions that may be treated with a BAHS include:
Owen's bone-anchored hearing story
With the help of his bone-anchored hearing system, Owen is fluent in both spoken English and American Sign Language.
What are the different types of bone-anchored hearing systems?
BAHS have processors with microphones that pick up sound and send it directly to the inner ear through bone vibration. There are several different BAHS options:
- Softband: A BAHS processor is attached to a softband (headband). The softband is worn around your child’s head throughout the day and removed at night.
- Percutaneous: A BAHS processor abutment is surgically placed under the skin on your child’s head. The surgical procedure often occurs in two stages.
- Transcutaneous: The BAHS processor system has both an internal and external component. The surgical procedure is often completed in a single stage.
Is my child old enough for a bone-anchored hearing system?
Children as young as 6 months old can be fitted for a BAHS softband, which doesn’t require surgery.
Your child must be at least 5 years old to qualify for a surgically implanted BAHS.
How will I know if my child is qualified for a BAHS device?
Your child will need to have an up-to-date hearing evaluation to determine if they are a candidate for a BAHS. Before surgery is scheduled, your child will also meet with a psychologist in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program.
What to expect during your child’s BAHS evaluation
Your child will undergo a series of tests, including a diagnostic hearing assessment, to determine if a BAHS could effectively improve their access to speech and sounds.
- An audiologist will ask about your child’s medical and hearing history, including the results of previous hearing tests. They’ll also discuss the results of your child’s hearing test and candidacy for a device with you.
- A BAHS otolaryngologist will conduct a medical evaluation of your child’s hearing loss.
- A speech-language pathologist will evaluate your child’s speech and language.
If the test results indicate that your child could benefit from bone-anchored hearing, you will meet with a BAHS audiologist for a demonstration, counseling, and recommendations.
What to expect when choosing a BAHS softband device
If you decide to try a BAHS softband device, your child will be fit with a processor and wear it for at least two weeks. Your child’s audiologist will help you determine if the device was beneficial to help you decide if you want to move forward with this option for your child.
What to expect after BAHS surgery
If your child has a BAHS surgically implanted, they will meet with their otolaryngologist and audiologist after surgery. The audiologist will program the device and show you and your child how to use and care for the processor. About every six months, your child will have a hearing test followed by programming and adjustments to their BAHS device.