Minneapolis Girls Receive the Gift of Hearing

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This past February, Doctors reconstruct ear that combined with the implanted Sophono abutment-free, magnetic hearing device brings normalcy to girls’ lives

Born with ears not fully formed, 6-year-old Julia and 10-year-old Claire Differding weren’t given much of a chance to hear. But their lives have changed in a matter of weeks. But now with the aid of an abutment-free bone conduction hearing device from Sophono, both Minneapolis girls can hear and are excelling at school.

Chicago-based Michael Shinners, M.D., implanted the Sophono Alpha 2™ System in January. Just weeks later, the girls now are able to hear in their affected ears.

At birth, doctors had diagnosed the girls with microtia atresia. The exterior and canal of one ear was not fully formed with each girl, preventing sound conduction to the affected eardrum. When the girls reached the minimum age to undergo plastic surgery to reconstruct the ear, they did so – and gained hearing in their affected ears with the Sophono system.

The Sophono Alpha System works with implantable magnets and bone conduction technology. Shinners implanted the Sophono Alpha 2 hearing device in both girls by placing a titanium implant containing two small magnets against the girls’ skulls, just beneath the skin. Once those incisions healed, which took just a few weeks, an audiologist placed a magnetic baseplate against each girl’s scalp, and then fastened the Sophono Alpha sound processor to the baseplate. The magnets send sound vibrations directly into the girls’ ears.

Today, both Claire and Julia can hear out of both ears. Their academic performance has increased tremendously, according to Janice Differding, the girls’ mother. “The girls no longer sit and squirm during class like they did when they had to angle themselves in order to hear,” she says. “Their social lives have improved immensely now that they can hear their friends talk without having to ask them to repeat what was just said.”

The Differding family chose the Sophono Alpha 2 System over other bone conduction hearing systems for several reasons. The abutment-free Sophono system eliminates the need for daily cleaning/wound care and risk of infection. In addition, says Claire, “The Sophono Alpha isn’t a ‘Frankenstein device,’” referring to the fact that the device relies on the implantable magnets instead of a screw protruding from the skin.

“The cosmetic and aesthetic elements of hearing devices are critically important, especially with children,” says Jim Kasic, president and CEO of Sophono. “Eliminating self-consciousness about the device improves self-confidence, the ability to socialize, and the capability to engage in sports and other activities so much more easily.”

Janice Differding agrees. “The girls are so much more confident now,” she says. “Now that they can hear properly, they are the happiest girls in the world.”

Sophono, Inc. (http://www.sophono.com)
Sophono, Inc., is a medical device manufacturer specializing in implantable, abutment-free, bone conduction hearing devices. The company’s products are designed for individuals suffering from severe to profound hearing loss or impairment. The Sophono Alpha 2™ System is the only abutment-free, implantable, bone-anchored hearing system available today. Treating those with conductive hearing loss, mixed hearing loss, and single-ear deafness, the FDA-cleared Alpha 2 device eliminates the problematic abutment of devices by using magnets to affix external sound processors.

Sophono corporate headquarters and manufacturing operations are located in Boulder, Colo. The company maintains an office in Germany, works with more than 20 distributors, and is actively selling in more than 30 countries.

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