BONEBRIDGE or BAHA? If you’re choosing a bone conduction implant, there are lots of different things to think about. Each device has its own strengths and weaknesses—the best way to find out which one is right for you is by understanding how they all work.
How Bone Conduction Works
Bone conduction is a different way of hearing. It involves sending sound vibrations to your cochlea through the bones of your skull.
Check out this post to find out more about this amazing technology!
Types of Bone Conduction Implants
Not all bone conduction hearing aids are implants. There are also non-surgical devices, like headbands or the revolutionary ADHEAR, which are just worn on the outside of the head.
However bone conduction implants involve having a small surgery to place a device directly into the bones of your skull. You still wear an audio processor on the outside of your head, which is attached to the implant in some way. There are three main types of bone conduction implants:
A BAHA is basically a metal screw that’s drilled into the bone. The end of the screw, called an abutment, sticks out through the skin, and an audio processor is attached to it. The audio processor vibrates, which causes the screw to vibrate, which then causes the bones to vibrate, sending sound waves to the cochlea.
A Magnetic BAHA a very similar technology. A screw is still drilled in the bone. However instead of having an abutment at the end of the screw, there is a small metal plate. The skin heals fully over this metal plate. The audio processor is worn on the outside of the head, and is held in place over the plate using strong magnets. The audio processor vibrates, causing the skin to vibrate, then the plate, then the screw, then the bones, and this again sends sound waves to the cochlea.
An Active Bone Conduction Implant, like BONEBRIDGE, is implanted into the bone and the skin heals completely over it. Like with a magnetic BAHA, the audio processor is held in place over the implant using magnets. However unlike a magnetic BAHA, it’s not the audio processor that vibrates but the implant itself. The audio processor sends wireless electronic signals through the skin to the implant. The implant then vibrates which make the bones vibrate, sending sound signals to the cochlea.
5 Reasons To Get BONEBRIDGE
1. BONEBRIDGE has a smaller and lighter audio processor
Because the audio processor for BONEBRIDGE doesn’t need to vibrate, it can be a lot thinner and lighter. It needs only a battery and a computer chip, which converts sound vibrations into the wireless electrical signals that are sent to the implant.
The newest BONEBRIDGE audio processor, SAMBA, is only 10 mm tall and weighs 9 g with the battery. It’s so tiny, you’ll barely even notice you’re wearing it!
2. BONEBRIDGE is good for your skin.
A small and light audio processor isn’t the only reason to choose BONEBRIDGE.
With a regular BAHA, the abutment is left poking out through an open wound in the skin. This makes it very easy to get skin infections—in fact, studies show that over 70% of children suffer skin complications with their BAHA1.
Magnetic BAHA users often have skin issues too. The audio processor has to be pressed really tightly against your skin, otherwise the vibrations from the audio processor won’t reach the bone. Because of this, the magnets of a magnetic BAHA have to put your skin under a lot of pressure—four times as much pressure as the BONEBRIDGE magnets2. This constant squeezing of the skin between two magnets can create sore spots and skin irritation for magnetic BAHA users, making it painful to wear their audio processor.
But BONEBRIDGE’s audio processor doesn’t need to be pressed as tightly on your skin, so your skin won’t be squeezed and irritated in the same way. This means you can comfortably wear your audio processor all day long, giving you great hearing all day long!
3. BONEBRIDGE is the most advanced active bone conduction implant.
MED-EL pioneered “under-the-skin” bone conduction implants: the original BONEBRIDGE implant was the first of its type and released way back in 2012. In the time since, we’ve been working with you and your healthcare professionals to find out what works and what doesn’t. All this experience has been packed into our latest generation of BONEBRIDGE implants, and in fact BONEBRIDGE is the only active bone conduction implant already in its second generation. For you, that means you can benefit from the most advanced bone conduction technology out there.
4. BONEBRIDGE is the only waterproof bone conduction implant.
That’s right, BONEBRIDGE is the only waterproof bone conduction device available anywhere in the world! That means you can go swimming, spend time on the beach, or just take a bath, and hear the world at the same time.
You simply place your SAMBA audio processor into a waterproof WaterWear cover and then dive right in. Your SAMBA will stay nice and dry while you enjoy swimming, diving, or just having fun in the water.
What’s more, because BONEBRIDGE doesn’t leave you with an open wound, you’re also not putting yourself at risk of skin infections from the water.
5. BONEBRIDGE gives you great sound quality.
Imagine you’re in an empty room and you’re talking to someone. You can hear quite clearly what they’re saying. Then you go into the next room and shut the door and it suddenly becomes a lot harder. That’s because the sound vibrations now have to pass through the door to reach the other person.
It’s the same principle with bone conduction implants. If your bone conduction implant can transmit vibrations directly to your bone—known as direct sound transmission—then you will get a clearer sound quality. But if you put a “door” in the way, then it becomes harder to hear. A magnetic BAHA has a “door”: the skin. As the sound vibrations pass from the audio processor through the skin to the bone, they become weaker, and so it’s harder to achieve the same sound quality.
The BONEBRIDGE implant uses direct sound transmission to vibrate the bone directly—the vibrations don’t have to pass through any skin. Without any “doors” in the way, you can experience great sound quality from your BONEBRIDGE, and hear your best at all times.
1 Jonathan Mark Fussey, Emilie Harterink, Jaspreet Gill, Anne Child-Hymas, Ann-Louise McDermott (2018): “Clinical outcomes following Cochlear™ BIA300 bone anchored hearing aid implantation in children”. International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology 111 (2018) 89–92.
2 Data on Baha Attract: Briggs et al.: Clinical Performance of a New Magnetic Bone Conduction Hearing Implant System: Results from a Prospective, Multicenter, Clinical Investigation. Otol Neurotol, 2015 Jan. Data on BONEBRIDGE: MED-EL internal measurements.
Want to find out more about life with BONEBRIDGE? Check out Niraj’s story about playing music.
Learn more about what BONEBRIDGE could offer you.
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