Monthly Archives: May 2021

Presidential Perspective

Why We Launched Good Vibrations Day

On May 3, Oticon Medical launched the first Good Vibrations Day—a nonbranded annual holiday to raise awareness of bone anchored hearing as a solution to hearing losses that cannot be treated with air conduction hearing aids.

Note my use of nonbranded here. The point of this day is to inform people with hearing loss that an alternative to their partial or near-total deafness exists that they might not have known about. And while we are a business that manufactures such a product—the Ponto™ bone anchored hearing system (BAHS) —we are also a part of something much larger: the hearing healthcare community. As such, we consider it our responsibility and our privilege to spread the word about hearing treatment options to those who would benefit regardless of brand.

I can imagine what the cynical among you are thinking as you roll your eyes at your screen: “Sure, John. You don’t care whether this initiative drives Ponto sales. Sell me a bridge, why don’t you?”

Okay, fair enough. Obviously, I believe in our product and that it is the best option on the market. Why would I work for the company otherwise?

Nevertheless, Good Vibrations Day is not about pushing Ponto sales. A surprising number of people affected by hearing loss only know about traditional hearing aids and cochlear implants, which although highly effective treatments, are not universally suited to every form of hearing loss.

Thousands of people in the United States and abroad could be engaging in conversations with friends, listening to music, having an easier time learning in school and functioning at work. Imagine you are one of them, and because of Good Vibrations Day, discover a solution exists that could help you enjoy all the ease and pleasure access to sound provides. Wouldn’t you hop online and start researching all the bone anchored treatment options available? The opportunity to offer this hope to more human beings carries far deeper meaning, to me, than pushing product alone.

Ultimately, we are in the business of helping people. We can only do that if they know our treatment option exists. So, yes, even if our Good Vibrations Day efforts drive some individuals to seek treatment from a company other than ours, we’ll consider it a success.

Which is why we are not only hoping , but actively encouraging, our competitors to join us in celebrating next year’s Good Vibrations Day. Together, we can inform potential users and support audiology professionals in spreading the word about osseointegrated treatments and their effectiveness. The more people we reach who could benefit from bone anchored hearing, the greater the opportunity we will all have to improve lives. And yes, as a rising tide lifts all boats, increasing public awareness of bone anchored hearing solutions will ultimately benefit our entire industry, including our clinical customers.

Until next time,

John Sparacio, President, Oticon Medical US

Raising Awareness of Hearing Loss

To highlight and help increase awareness of hearing loss, this blog is dedicated to the efforts that surround the national campaign for May as Better Hearing and Speech Month. Hearing loss is ranked as one of the most common chronic health conditions that U.S. adults experience, affecting an estimated 48 million people nationwide. New polling released by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) reveals an overwhelming disconnect between the high value that Americans say they place on their hearing and their low willingness to be treated for any hearing loss. This has prompted a new public service announcement (PSA) campaign: Act Now on Hearing. This PSA will air nationwide for the next year educating Americans on the signs of hearing loss and guiding those affected to find care from a certified audiologist.

People with hearing loss often wait an average of seven years before seeking treatment. When left untreated, hearing loss has been linked to several other health problems, including social isolation and depression, cognitive decline, and increased stress levels. A 12-year study found that mild hearing loss doubled dementia risk, moderate loss tripled risk, and people with a severe hearing impairment were five times more likely to develop dementia (Lin, et al, 2011).

Additional statistics learned from a poll conducted by ASHA of nearly 2,500 adults ages 18 and older found:

  • 80% of Americans say maintaining their hearing heath is extremely important or very important to their quality of life.
  • Only 2 in 10 (20%) adults have had a hearing test in the past five years, compared with roughly 6 in 10 (61%) who have had their vision tested.
  • More than half (51%) of all adults reported having hearing problems, but only 11% of those respondents have sought treatment.
  • More than three-quarters (78%) of those with hearing problems have had these difficulties for one or more years—and over one-third (35%) have had trouble for five or more years.
  • A 42% plurality of Americans understand that mild hearing loss can impact a person’s life or daily functioning. Yet, more than half of those with untreated hearing problems (56%) say that they would be unlikely to treat it unless it was “severe.”

Click through for additional information on Attitudes and Actions Towards Hearing Health Survey Results findings from ASHA.

A global spotlight

The World Health Organization (WHO) released the first-ever World Report on Hearing projecting that by 2050, 2.5 billion people will be living with some degree of hearing loss. This translates into 1 in 4 people worldwide, at least 700 million of whom will require rehabilitation services.

Hearing loss can be addressed through effective and timely interventions. In children, almost 60% of hearing loss is due to causes that can be prevented through measures such as immunization, improved maternal and neonatal care, and screening for, and early management of, otitis media. In adults, legislation on noise control and safe listening, and surveillance of ototoxicity can help maintain hearing trajectories and reduce the potential for hearing loss.

Click through to learn more about the World Report on Hearing.

Take action now

It is important to act now for a variety reasons, but in particular the recent COVID-19 pandemic highlights the importance of hearing, which allows us to remain connected to others when social distancing and losing visual cues due to the use of masks.

As audiologists we have the platform to help increase awareness, motivate those struggling with hearing loss to take that initial step toward treatment, educate others on hearing technology and its benefits, and counsel each patient we treat on the importance of protecting our ears from loud noises.

How can you get involved?  Consider any of the following:

  • Volunteer to present to your local community on the effects of hearing loss.
  • Post the present statistics surrounding hearing loss and the benefits of hearing technology on your social media accounts.
  • Offer free hearing screenings at your facility.
  • Encourage your inner circle of friends and family to complete a basic hearing test.
  • Lead by example and treat your own ears with kindness by reducing exposure to loud noises.

If we each commit to doing one thing to help raise awareness together, we can make a difference!

 

References

Kochkin S & Rogin C.  Quantifying the Obvious: The Impact of Hearing Instruments on Quality of Life;  The Hearing Review, January 2000.

Lin FR, Metter EJ, O'Brien RJ, Resnick SM, Zonderman AB, Ferrucci L. Hearing loss and incident dementia. Archives of neurology. 2011; 68(2):214-20. NIHMSID: NIHMS336097 PubMed PMID: 21320988, PMCID: PMC3277836

American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) 2021. Attitudes and Actions Towards Hearing Health. Survey Results; www.asha.org

 World Health Organization (2021): Report on Hearing; www.who.int

About the Author:

Carissa Moeggenberg is an audiologist who has worked in the hearing healthcare field for the past 29 years. She is presently the Training Manager for Oticon Medical.