The Decision to Enter into the World of Sound

December 20, 2016

A Journey of Possibility

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When is it the right time to make the decision to get a hearing implant? Here is a short guide to discovering more about the  transforming technology offered by Cochlear™ Nucleus™ and Baha® Implants.

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Implants as an Option

Traditional hearing aids might be a solution for some individuals. For others, it will simply not suffice and we have to look at alternative solutions to restore hearing.

Cochlear and Baha® Implants could make a massive difference to people who have exhausted all other options.

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Facts About Cochlear™ Implants:

- Can be used in one or both ears.

- “Replaces” the damaged structures in the cochlea/inner ear

- Can be made water-proof.

- Cochlear™ has multiple True Wireless™ Accessories for enhanced performance for quality sound in various environments.

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Facts about Baha® Implants:

- Can be implanted in one or both ears

- Bypasses the middle ear (and possible disease/damaged structures) and stimulates the inner ear directly

- Cochlear™ has multiple True Wireless™ Accessories for enhanced performance for quality sound in various environments.

- Baha ® Sound Processors are not waterproof – but the odd raindrop is okay.

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First steps & Financial considerations

Candidacy criteria for a cochlear- or Baha® implant depends on multiple factors. These include the type of hearing loss a person has and the length of time they have had it. Medical studies consistently show implants to be an effective treatment for Severe or Profound Hearing Loss.

To find out if they would be suitable for you or a loved one contact an audiologist or the team at Southern ENT who have a list of qualified Audiologists to recommend in your area.

The process begins with a holistic review by skilled specialists. If an individual is determined to benefit from an implant then financial considerations may come into view. In South Africa the cost can range up to R270 000 per implant.

As awareness is raised and education regarding the positive outcomes associated with the procedure, it has gained in popularity. Leading to the surgery being covered by more private health insurance companies and managed plans than ever before.

Here in South Africa several medical aid plans will cover the costs of surgery. It is important to note that medical aid authorization must be received prior to any surgery dates being scheduled.

If the medical aid you are on will not cover the procedure or its entire costs, don’t lose hope, there are options available. These include filing for ex gratia benefits, creating a financing plan, and even appealing the medical aid’s decision.

Bidvest’s Hear For Life Trust offers an easy online portal here to apply for Cochlear™ Implant funding for the financially disadvantaged.

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What to Expect

Currently there are Cochlear Programmes available in Johannesburg, Bloemfontein, Tygerberg, Port Elizabeth, and at Pretoria University. The procedure itself generally takes around 2 hours and is considered an outpatient treatment.

Once healing is complete, (generally several weeks after the procedure takes place) then the external processor is fitted and ‘switched on’. It is then of the utmost importance to meet regularly with an specialized audiologist to begin sound ‘mapping’. This means that each day you are slowly exposed to more and more sounds such that the auditory nerve gets used to receiving more electrical impulses.

As  progress is  made, audiology sessions are scaled back to every several months and in time once annually.

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When to Consider Cochlear™

Do any of these apply to you or a loved one?

- Asking others to repeat themselves (even in a quiet and/or one on one environment)

- Relying on lip reading for understanding

- Requiring closed captioning to follow television or movies

- Experiencing difficulty keeping up at work due to missing verbal cues

- Avoiding making or receiving phone calls

- Finding communication exhausting

- Can hear but struggling to understand

- Facing anxiety regarding social situations due to dread about an inability to communicate i.e having to repeatedly say “Pardon?” or “Please could you repeat that”

- Fearing you will respond incorrectly in conversation because you have misheard & therefore misunderstood

- Children not reaching verbal milestones at the age of two

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If you or your loved one has a hearing aid but struggles with the above it may be time to consider cochlear implant or Baha® implant

Diagnosis is Key!

Raising awareness around Hearing Loss is important. If you or a loved one has been affected by a hearing disability, consider speaking out. By educating others, you can have a positive impact.

- Advocate for Newborn Hearing Tests so our youngest SuperHEARoes have as many treatment options as possible.

- Encourage children and teens to test their hearing using the free HearZA App

- Test your own hearing with HearZA  App or by an Audiologist.

- Learn more about options to address Severe or Profound Hearing Loss and get yourself or your loved ones evaluated to discover if they are eligible for an implant.

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Looking for Inspiration?

Check out these true stories of individuals facing a journey with hearing loss. Told in their own words here.

For any information or advice, please call our offices on 011 667 6243

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