Talk About Discreet, This Hearing Aid Is Invisible A breakthrough hearing aid technology is now available for those with mild to severe sensorineural hearing loss who are looking for a discreet solution. This instrument, approved by the FDA in March of 2010, is the first totally implantable hearing aid for those with less than profound hearing loss. Envoy Medical’s new hearing aid implant, called Esteem, is truly revolutionary in its approach to improved hearing. This is because the hearing aid doesn’t require anything tobe worn on the outer ear. In fact, none of the hearing aid is visible from the outside. What’s even more revolutionary is the fact that the hearing aid doesn’t have a microphone or speaker. So, how does it work? The Esteemis implanted in the middle ear during a relatively simple medical procedure. The implant doesn’t need a microphone or speaker because it uses a sensor in the middle ear that captures sound waves coming into the ear canal naturally through the ear canal and eardrum. A sound processor is implanted in the bone behind the ear. This processor amplifies and improves the sound quality, then returns it to a “driver” attached to the third bone of the middle ear, called the stapes. The sound then continues through the rest of the system as it would naturally. Visit the company’s website to see avideo animation on how Esteem works.
The fact that the Esteem processes sound naturally through the outer ear means there is no artificial amplification of the sound prior to reaching the eardrum. Envoy Medical reports that patients find this sound quality much more clear and much more natural sounding. The most appealing aspect for most of its wearers, though, is its invisibility and relatively simple care and maintenance. Although the system can be modified by the wearer for changing environments with the use of a remote control, the Esteem is meant to be hands-free. And, because there are no batteries to change or ear pieces to clean, it is a popular choice for people with hearing loss who really don’t care to think about or take care of a hearing aid. One of the biggest drawbacks of the Esteem hearing aid is its cost. This hearing instrument is not for the faint of heart. At a cost of $30,000, this instrument is easily the most expensive of the hearing aids available today, next to the cochlear implant.And, because it is an electrical piece that runs on a battery, the system will require additional surgery for replacement of the battery once it dies. Envoy medical estimates replacements will be necessary every 4.5 to 9 years, depending on how it is used (24 hour a day use vs. 8 hour a day use). Battery replacement, according to Envoy, is a relatively simple in-office procedure with a cost of roughly $2000. Although it’s an expensive choice, theEsteem implanted hearing aid is a promising option for the person who really wants to be as discreet as possible with hearing aids. And, if you’re looking for something that’s easy to use, high-end technology and offers hearing twenty-four hours a day, this unique hearing aid might be
worth investigating. Talk to your Audiologist today to see if Esteem is right for you.
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