Sophono Details Advances in Bone Conduction Technology to Help Children with Hearing Problems

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Implantable Hearing Devices improve hearing without abutments or complications.

Hearing loss in children can affect the ability to develop communication, language and social skills, impacting every facet of life, from education to participation in sports to job marketability. Children have often resorted to assistive devices, sign language or simply trying to “make do,” but Sophono, Inc., reports that recent advances in areas including bone conduction technology are making it possible for more children than ever to hear.

While most children hear and listen from the moment they are born, 2 or 3 out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born deaf or hard-of-hearing. More develop problems later during childhood. In fact, of the almost three-quarters of a million individuals in the United States with severe to profound hearing loss, almost 8 percent are under the age of 18.

“More, and better, assistive technology systems and hearing aids are emerging for children with hearing problems,” says Jim Kasic, president and CEO of Sophono, Inc. “Developments have been most impressive in the implant area for children age 5 and older,” he stresses. “For those younger, a bone-anchored hearing processor that attaches to a colorful softband or metal headband is very successful. Once they can have implants, they can continue to use the same processor.”

Bone-anchored hearing devices are surgically implanted medical devices that treat hearing loss by transmitting sounds through direct bone conduction to the nerve fibers of the inner ear, Kasic explains. The devices can help those with three main audiological problems. Included are children with aural atresia and microtia (malformation or absence of the ear canal), those with chronic inflammation or infection of the ear canal, and others unable to wear traditional hearing aids.

1.    Conductive hearing loss
2.    Mixed hearing loss
3.    Single-sided, sensorineural deafness (total deafness in one ear)

Until recently, says Kasic, as many as 70 percent of the individuals bone-anchored hearing devices could help have rejected using them. This is primarily due to the requirement to attach the sound processor by first drilling a hole in the patient’s skull and installing a very noticeable screw that pokes out through the skin on the side of the head.

Now, however, abutment-free technology eliminates these problems by working with small, implantable magnets that invisibly follow the contour of the head. The surgical procedure is simple, standardized, consistent and predictable, with a very low rate of complications. Healing time is only a few weeks, vs. several months for abutment devices. The abutment-free devices are cosmetically appealing and hygienic, requiring no daily cleaning routines. “An abutment-free bone conduction hearing device lets children be active, with no worries, and eliminates the social stigma associated with the protruding screws of alternative systems.”

Recent studies reported in Otology & Neurotology confirm that the advanced implantable, magnetic bone conduction hearing systems produce the same hearing gains as traditionally used devices that work with an abutment, with fewer complications. “The impact for pediatric otolaryngology is profound,” says Kasic. “Audiology professionals, and their pediatric patients, now have a simple, effective solution for many common hearing problems.”

Sophono, Inc. (

Sophono, Inc., is a medical device manufacturer specializing in abutment-free, implantable, bone conduction hearing systems. 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 eliminates the problematic abutment of devices by using magnets to affix external sound processors.

Sophono corporate headquarters and manufacturing operations reside 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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Aimee Bennett
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