Until recently, patients with the condition microtia could either wear a bone-conduction hearing aid attached to a headband or have surgery to implant a screw or magnet into the skull to attach a hearing aid. Now a newly FDA- approved adhesive device is changing that.
Twelve-year-old Story Jackson was born with microtia: her right external ear never developed, resulting in the inability to hear from that ear. It wasn’t a problem until middle school
Story’s mother, Regan Jackson, explained, “She kind of would feel left out, like if she’s sitting on this side of the table and her friends are over here talking about something and everyone else is loud she was always like having to turn her head like, what?”
Story also realized it might someday affect her dream job.
“One of the things I want to be when I’m older is an orthopedic surgeon. I would have to hear my surroundings and know what’s going on, for the sake of my patient,” Story Jackson said.
So when the Jackson family heard that the ADHEAR became FDA- approved in 2018, Story became one of the first 25 people in the country to receive the stick-on device.
Jennie M. Chiles, Au.D., an audiologist said, “It works by capturing the sounds through the microphone that’s on the side that it’s being worn and it sends those sounds basically through little vibrations through the bones in the skull to a hearing organ itself.”
“When it turned on, I was like I can’t believe I can actually have this,” Story told Ivanhoe.
Regan said, “When we got home she was like tapping her feet on the floor like listen to that because everything sounds different.”
At her two-week checkup, Story was hearing clearer than ever.
The ADHEAR device can come on and off with a click to the water-proof adhesive adapter. That adapter has to be changed every three to seven days. ADHEAR has been available since August 2018 and may be covered by insurance.
Contributors to this news report include: Hayley Hudson, Field and Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.
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TOPIC: ADHEAR OVERCOMES STORY’S MICROTIA
REPORT: MB #4517
BACKGROUND: Microtia is a congenital deformity of the outer ear where the ear does not fully develop during the first trimester of pregnancy. The word “microtia” comes from the Latin words “micro” and “otia”, meaning “little ear.” Microtia ears can vary in appearance, but are usually smaller in size, often only consisting of a tiny peanut-shaped lobe. Microtia occurs about one in 5,000 births, though rates can vary depending on ethnic background. It is unilateral in above 90% of cases, and tends to involve the right ear more commonly, and also more common in males. Microtia describes the outer ear and is often associated with absence of the ear canal. The ear canal can also be present or extremely narrow.
TREATMENT: Until recently, there were few options for microtia patients. One option was headband bone conduction devices, where direct sound transmission through the skull bone to the functioning cochlea is made possible by the headband. The drawback of this device is that firm compression onto the skull bone is required and this may cause skin irritation, headache and occasionally pressure sores. In addition, the device consists of a sizeable microphone and bone vibrator, which brings aesthetic concerns. Surgical options include canalplasty. The baseline of the surgery is to achieve a dry, self-cleaning canal. In ideal cases, patient’s hearing is amplification-free. In general, around 30 percent of patients are hearing aid dependent even after the canalplasty.
ADHEAR: As of mid-2018, ADHEAR is now an option. Its creator, MedEl, describes it as follows: “ADHEAR uses a unique adhesive adapter, so there is no pressure against the skin. Even though there’s no direct pressure, the adhesive adapter design can still deliver equivalent output performance when compared to other non-surgical bone conduction systems. The single-use adhesive adapter is simply applied behind the ear and can be worn for 37 days. The adhesive adapter is water-compatible, so the adhesive can be worn while bathing, showering, or other water-related activities. The adhesive adapter makes it easy to ensure ADHEAR is always in the optimal position for reliable hearing performance. Handling is simple; just snap the ADHEAR Audio Processor onto the adhesive adapter and you’re ready to go.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THIS REPORT, PLEASE CONTACT:
Rebecca Novak Tibbitt, MPH
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