Everything You Need To Know About BAHA Implants for Children
Some children who are deaf and hard of hearing use traditional hearing aids to amplify sounds, and it works incredibly well for them. Unfortunately for others, traditional hearing aids aren’t the best solution and the possibility of implanted devices should be explored.
There are two main types of implanted devices:
- Bone anchored hearing device (BAHA)
- Cochlear implants
These implants can be used to help different types of hearing loss.
This post will explain BAHA implants, how they work, how they’re different from cochlear implants, and how your child can get a BAHA implant for mild to moderate hearing loss.
What are BAHA implants?
The BAHA, or bone anchored hearing aid, is indicated for children with conductive hearing loss, mixed hearing loss, or single sided deafness.
Your child can benefit from a BAHA implant if he/she has:
- Reduced hearing on one side with normal hearing in the opposite ear
- Problems affecting their external or middle ear (conductive hearing loss)
- Mixed hearing loss (conductive and sensorineural hearing loss together)
How does a BAHA implant work?
A small, titanium implant is surgically placed inside the mastoid bone of the skull - just behind the outer ear. It has an exterior processor that attaches behind the ear and transforms the sounds it picks up. It then sends the auditory signal through bone conduction (vibration of the bones of the skull) instead of air conduction (typical hearing through the ear canal and middle ear space).
Although BAHA implants don’t give crystal clear hearing, they help wearers understand speech and other sounds. Essentially, a BAHA implant works by making hearing loss more manageable.
What’s the best BAHA implant manufacturer?
The top manufacturers in America for BAHA implants are Cochlear Americas BAHA, Oticon Medical Ponto, and Med El Adhear.
What is a BAHA softband?
Until young children are ready to get a BAHA implant (they must be at least 6 years of age), they can wear a BAHA sound processor attached to a BAHA softband of their choice. The BAHA softband is an elastic headband with a plastic snap connector that holds the sound processor in place.
This adjustable band can be turned so the sound processor rests in different positions to help prevent soreness. The softband enables your child to have a variety of listening opportunities until he/she is old enough to get the implant.
What are the pros & cons of a BAHA softband?
The pros of a BAHA softband
Softbands allow children under age 6 and too young for surgery to be fitted with a hearing aid device.
With the help of a BAHA softband, your child will have early access to sound. This means they can happily explore and interact with the world around them. It also helps them build a brilliant foundation for speech development.
Early intervention with a softband makes a huge difference when it comes to hearing sound and learning language, and it ensures hearing loss will not impede your child’s development.
The cons of BAHA softband
Some softbands can contain a natural rubber latex that could cause allergic reactions.
You can’t wear a BAHA softband while you’re:
- Participating in contact sports
The BAHA sound processor isn’t waterproof, cannot withstand extreme temperatures and will have to be removed when having an MRI or going through metal detectors.
What is the difference between BAHA and cochlear implants?
Some children experience more profound hearing loss and aren’t able to successfully use traditional hearing aids or BAHA implants. They will instead have to opt for a cochlear implant.
Cochlear implants are typically suggested for children with severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss. Instead of being implanted in the mastoid bone like the BAHA hearing aid, it is implanted into the cochlea of the inner ear. It still picks up signals and sends them to the brain, but unlike the BAHA, it transforms acoustic sound into electrical stimulation in the cochlea.
The implant bypasses other parts of the ear that stimulate the auditory nerve and works directly with the brain.
Cochlear implants, like BAHA implants, are not a cure for deafness. Instead, they simply help wearers navigate their lives by making sounds and speech easier to interpret.
A cochlear implant may require specific therapy after the procedure is completed to help those who may have never heard speech before.
Does my child qualify for BAHA surgery?
In the US, the BAHA implant can only be given to children who are at least 6 years old.
If your child is older than 6 and has conductive hearing loss, mixed hearing loss, or single-sided deafness, then they should be able to qualify for BAHA surgery if necessary.
If you’d like to get your child evaluated for a BAHA implant, schedule an appointment with a trusted audiologist. They’ll be able to let you know if your child is a good candidate for a BAHA implant.
During your child’s appointment, the audiologist will conduct a hearing test with and without hearing aids as well as a speech perception test.
If you have any questions about BAHA implants or want to get in touch with one of our audiologists, feel free to call CCHAT at (916) 361-7290 or send us a message.