22 Feb 2015

Hearing Impaired? BAHA? What am I talking about, really?

I’ve previously said Freja is hearing impaired. Some in the UK use the world deaf for all hearing losses but I don’t like it so for me it’s hearing impairment if there is some hearing and deaf if there is no hearing or a very limited amount of hearing. Just to be clear with what I mean when I say hearing impaired.

Freja can hear with her aid and it is working really well for her. After all she got fully functional inner ears. That might sound strange to you because if there’s nothing wrong with her inner ears why can’t she hear? Well if sound can’t get to the inner ear it’s a little tricky. Freja got something called Microtia, it means she have underdeveloped outer/middle ears. Some children with this condition don’t even have ears, some have one normal ear and one Microtia ear. Freja got two Microtia ears, one small ear and one with a shadow ear. Simply put both are malformed. They don’t know why this happens, however in around 70% of the cases there is a genetic cause and it can also be linked to other conditions. In Freja’s case it’s a total mystery.

The most common question we still get from both friends, family and curious strangers about her hearing impairment is what they plan to do about her ears/hearing. What is the plan?? What are they going to do? Have you been scheduled in for the one big surgical fix?

As well-meaning these questions might be it does get repetitive after a while. Mostly because the plan and the fix have already been put into place and it is what they see right in front of their eyes. It’s called a hearing aid. Even after explaining this multiple times people still wonder why they don’t do re-constructional surgery in the ear and the answer is complication risk being well over 90% with a success rate very low. Hearing aids do the job loads better. 

To get sound to Freja’s inner ear she wears a bone conductor, it’s a hearing aid designed to send sound via vibrations through the scull bone to the inner ear. It is a pretty impressive piece of kit. She’s been very lucky to be fitted with a BAHA (Bone Anchored Hearing Aid) on a headband from when she was about five months old. When she is a little older she’ll get an adapter implanted straight on her scull bone instead of the headband, hence the name. That’s pretty much “the plan” for her hearing. When she’s about nine and if she wants it she can have plastic surgery to get normal looking ears. They won’t work in regards to hearing but they will look “normal”. We’re leaving that choice entirely up to her.

Now you now a little bit more about Freja’s hearing impairment and what we’re doing to aid her physically. There’s obviously lots more than that to it and I’d like to tell you more about our everyday life in future posts.


Dalkullan said...

Good post, but you probably will still get the questions as well as Freja in the future. It sounds like you have made overall a good plan for her. Good luck!

Dalkullan said...

Nice photo by the way. She sure has the spirit!