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Seniors' Health Channel
Reported May 22, 2013

Say What!? The Invisible Hearing Aid

TUCSON, Ariz. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Hearing loss is the third most common physical condition after heart disease and arthritis. Hearing aids used to be the only option for those with moderate to severe hearing loss, but now an invisible device is giving patients a new choice.

Along with super strength, the Bionic Woman has super hearing.  It’s something LoriAnn Harnish has always dreamed of.

“For some reason I have always had the vision that I would become a bionic woman,” LoriAnn Harnish, who has hearing problems, told Ivanhoe.

At five years old, a fever cost her 65 percent of her hearing. Now, something you can’t really see is taking LoriAnn’s hearing to a new level.

“Every day it’s something new,” LoriAnn said.

“I think this is the biggest breakthrough we’ve had in terms of rehabilitating hearing since cochlear implants,” Abraham Jacob, MD, Director at the University of Arizona Ear Institute, told Ivanhoe.

Dr. Jacob says the invisible device, known as the Esteem, is implanted behind the ear and turns parts of it into a microphone.

“The device uses the eardrum and native hearing bones to sense sound energy,” Dr. Jacob said.

That energy is sent to the inner ear for interpretation, creating a clearer, more natural sound.

“The patient is able to go in the shower, wear it at night, and wear it in the pool. It’s a completely different way to hear from them because they can hear all the time if they want to,” Dr. Jacob explained.

For LoriAnn, it’s meant a new hobby that’s literally music to her ears.

“It’s enriching my life in ways I had not expected,” LoriAnn said.

Right now, LoriAnn has the invisible hearing device in her left ear. She’s planning on having one implanted in her right ear as well. The device isn’t cheap. It costs about $35,000 per ear and is not yet covered by insurance.  MORE.

More Information

Click here for additional research on Say What!? The Invisible Hearing Aid

Click here for Ivanhoe's full-length interview with Dr. Abraham Jacob

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Andrew Mcintosh at amcintosh@ivanhoe.com

 

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