Single sided deafness, is a serious issue within the United States of America with over 9 million people suffering from significant or complete hearing loss in one ear while there is still normal hearing in the other ear. Single sided deafness creates an unenviable condition for the sufferer as they are unable to detect the direction of sound and in many cases unable to hear conversations or noises if they are directed solely towards the affected ear. While there are a number of causes of single sided deafness including trauma, acoustic neuroma and viral infections there has been limited medical responses which can cure the continuation of single sided deafness. Medical intervention has relied upon rehabilitative rather than curative measures.
However, research and studies conducted by the Head and Neck Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, have designed a bone conduction hearing device for sufferers of single sided deafness which allows sound to be transmitted by way of the suffers teeth. By diverting sound through the teeth, sound is able to be diverted directly to the cochleae, without the need to incorporate the role of the damaged middle and outer ear. The bone conducting hearing device is comprised of two parts. The first part of the device is a digital microphone unit which sits discretely behind the sufferer’s ear while the second part of the device is a wireless audio receiving unit which is fitted as a dental retainer so that the sound can be directed to the cochleae using vibrating technology. As this technology is relatively new its focus has been on assisting people suffering from single sided deafness, however, researchers are confident that the device will also be able to assist people suffering from other auditory conditions such as tinnitus and conductive hearing loss.
As yet the bone conduction hearing device has not yet received approval for use in single sided deafness by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but approval for the use of this medical innovation which advances the treatment of those suffering from single sided deafness is expected by mid 2010. While this is a relatively simple device to use, the ability of medical researchers to combine various medical and electronic technologies to treat what was once an untreatable condition shows why this device has come to be recognized as one of the major medical innovations set to hit the medical market in 2010.