According to the March of Dimes, about 12,000 babies each year are born with some degree of hearing impairment. Others lose hearing in one ear later in life. Many just live with the disability, while others have a surgical implant to help.
Now, there is a new option.
In 2008, Amy Walker, a new bride in her 20's, noticed her right ear felt stopped up.
Several doctors treated her for infections, but one did a brain scan.
“That was the first thing that ran through my mind,” says Walker. “Am I going to able to have children?”
It was a cancerous tumor.
Over the years, she's had surgeries and radiation when the cancer came back.
Now, pregnant with her second child, she is cancer free, but deaf in that ear.
Ear specialist and surgeon Dr. Tim Molony recommended the Soundbite.
With no surgery, a wireless mouthpiece picks up sound from the device on her deaf ear and sends the sound waves through the bones to the nerve in her good ear.
"The people that we're showing it to are very excited about it,” says Molony. “The people that we've fitted it with have been very accepting and very happy with it so it's been a real success. "
Some patients still decide to have a titanium plate surgically implanted to transmit the sound, but Amy wanted no more.
"Going out to dinner or just party environments, concerts, Saints games, it's made a huge difference and all that,” says Amy. “I can actually hear everybody to the right of me, where before there was nothing.”
Hearing loss can be caused by tumors, ear trauma, viruses or chronic ear infections.
Also, children not vaccinated for the measles or mumps are at higher risk.
The Soundbite is FDA approved and two-thirds of insurance companies cover it.
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