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New Device Could Help Millions Of People With Hearing Loss In One Ear

BOSTON (CBS) - There's a new device that could help the millions of people who have lost their hearing in one ear and don't benefit from traditional hearing aids.

WBZ's Lisa Hughes tells us, doctors at a Boston hospital are now fitting patients with a new device that transmits the sound through a patient's skull.

Maxine Kessler suddenly lost her hearing in right ear four years ago- because she suffered from an inner ear disorder. She explains, "I was sitting at home watching tv and all of the sudden I couldn't hear out of my right ear."

But Maxine wasn't a candidate for a conventional hearing aid and didn't want to undergo surgery to fix her hearing..

So she became one of the first patients to get fitted with a new hearing device called the SoundBite at Boston Medical Center this fall.

Maxine's bad ear was fitted with an earpiece with a tiny microphone.

It transmits the sound to a special device which is placed on her jaw and carries the sound vibrations though her skull bones to her good ear

Dr. Kenneth Grundfast, the director of the Otolaryngology Dept. at Boston Medical Center explains,'The sound goes from the bone, up into the skull to where the ear is located and vibrates the inner ear hair cells on the side where the hearing is good."

Maxine says the device has made a huge difference. "It's a tremendous difference, socially, and in work situations, I have to give talks, before I couldn't tell if I was talking to loud and now I can."

BMC senior audiologist Susan Kelleher explains, 'Patients say it's amazing they can sit in a restaurant and hear a conversation."

Unlike conventional hearing aids which usually aren't covered by insurance, some companies may pay for the new SoundBite because it's considered a prosthetic device and not a hearing aid.

For more information about the new device, contact the Dept. of Otolaryngology at Boston Medical Center at 617-638-8124

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