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Living Healthy

New hearing device gives renewed hope

BOSTON (WHDH) -- A new device is giving people with hearing loss, renewed hope. It works with wireless technology, and it's a snap.

35-year old Mia Tavan, a marketing consultant from Malden, developed hearing loss about seven years ago.

"What began was really slight hearing loss, and a constant humming, ringing tone," recalled Tavan.

Over the next few years, Tavan lost 80-percent of the hearing in her right ear, and was desperate to get help.

At Boston Medical Center, they offered her a solution that was music to her ears.

"We talked about a new device, that might be helpful to her, would enable sound from right to be moved to left ear," said Doctor Kenneth Grundfast, MD, FACS, of Boston Medical Center.

"We wouldn't be able to restore hearing, but could bring sounds into left ear," said Dr. Grundfast.

It's called the "sound-bite".

How it works: A microphone gets fitted to the bad ear. That microphone then takes sound vibrations and transmits them wirelessly to a second device that fits on to the patient's tooth.

"That tooth is embedded in the skull bones, as teeth are, so the vibrations go up in the inner ear on the left side, so sounds on right side are moved into the good hearing left ear," explained Dr. Grundfast

The best part there is no surgery involved, you just clip it on.

A lot of patients who heard surgery and ran away the first time, have contacted and told then, they've actually come back and been fit with the device," said Susan Kelleher, AUD, Boston Medical Center audiologist.

The best candidate for the sound-bite is someone with near normal hearing in one of their ears.

"So what happens is, the bad ear picks up sound, from bone conduction, sends sounds to better organ, so that's the organ that's going to respond, so she's technically hearing in better ear, but some people perceive they are hearing out of that dead ear," said Kelleher.

Mia has had the device for a few months now, and could not be happier.

"It's so worth it, I feel like I've become such a cheerleader for this device," said Tavan.

Because the Sound-Bite is considered a prosthetic and not a hearing aid, it's often covered by insurance plans.