The treatment of single-sided deafness (SSD) has come a long way in the last decade, with wireless technology-enabled hearing aids and osseointegrated devices exemplifying only two of the many noteworthy advances. These newer treatment options have opened up a much wider base of patients with SSD who can benefit.
“The attitude used to be, sure, you’re deaf in one year, but you still have another functional ear. Deal with it—go off and live your life,” said David M. Baguley, MBA, PhD, head of service: audiology/hearing implants at Cambridge University Hospitals, in Cambridge, England. But such an attitude downplays the significant psychosocial handicap these patients struggle with daily, Dr. Baguley added (See “Psychosicial Aspects of SSD,” below). Given the sophistication and effectiveness of the newer SSD interventions, “there’s simply no need to let that continue; we can help patients find an effective intervention.”
One of the latest developments in the treatment of SSD is the SoundBite, from SonitusMedical, which employs a behind-the-ear (BTE) microphone unit worn on the patient’s deaf side. The BTE unit uses a digital signal processor and a wireless chip to transmit detectedsound to a custom-fit, in-the-mouth (ITM) device. Placed on either the left or right back molars, the ITM device converts the sound transmissions into vibratory energy, which then flows via bone conduction to the inner ear on the contralateral side.