Beyond Hearing: Music Appreciation for BAHS Users

Beyond mere entertainment, music plays a profound role in shaping human experiences and enriching quality of life, socialization, and psychosocial well-being.1 In fact, listening to and making music is touted by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a way to improve quality of life.2

One of the most profound ways music enriches our lives is through its ability to evoke and express emotions. Listening to music, as well as specific music therapy, has been shown to improve anxiety, depression, feelings of hopelessness, and even fatigue.3

Beyond its emotive impact, engaging with music stimulates cognitive functions and enhances brain health.4 For individuals facing cognitive decline or additional communication disorders, music therapy has emerged as a promising intervention for preserving cognitive function and enhancing overall quality of life. Music therapy is often utilized when targeting social and communication skills and is beneficial for both the pediatric and adult population.5

Music has a remarkable ability to foster social bonds and cultivate a sense of belonging within communities. Whether it’s attending a concert, participating in a choir, or simply sharing playlists with friends, music provides a shared language through which people connect and communicate. By increasing an individual’s social interaction, we can not only provide enhanced social support, but also reduce loneliness and isolation.2

How hearing loss impedes music appreciation

Unsatisfactory music appreciation in individuals with hearing loss, with or without hearing aids, has been well documented. Research shows that individuals with post-lingual hearing loss of any degree note a significant decrease in music enjoyment post-onset of hearing impairment. Additionally, those with more severe losses noted a greater decline in music enjoyment both with and without amplification. Individuals with single-sided deafness noted music to be less natural, pleasant, and distinct than before the onset of hearing loss.6

While music appreciation and perception has been studied in individuals with cochlear implants and hearing aids, with varying results, there is a lack of similar research into bone anchored hearing systems (BAHS).

Music perception in BAHS users

By utilizing a myriad of quantitative tasks evaluating pitch, harmony, rhythm, and timbre, a recent study aimed to fill this gap and compared music appreciation and perception in BAHS users and peers with normal hearing. BAHS users included in the study were diagnosed with either asymmetric hearing loss or single-sided deafness. As noted above, without some form of amplification, these individuals not only experience speech perception difficulty, but unsatisfactory music perception and appreciation. The present study found that when utilizing a bone anchored device, users not only obtained similar scores when comparing their BAHS ear to their “better ear,” but they also performed similarly to their normal hearing peers. These findings are important, as they show that BAHS can help to maintain the integrity of music for users.7

When focusing on the Ponto™ system, users had better scores on instrument identification tasks when compared to users of a competitor’s device.7 Let’s dive into how Oticon Medical maintains music integrity and improves quality of life for our users.

Ponto and music appreciation

98 percent of all users report an increased quality of life after minimally invasive Ponto surgery8, and as we discussed prior, a large part of quality of life is music! But how do the Ponto 5 family of hearing processors maintain music integrity?

Figure 1: Maximum Force Output (OVFL90)

Figure 2: Output 50 dB SPL, Full-On Gain

  • Optimized output (Fig. 1) and uncompromised gain (Fig. 2) – Not only do Ponto 5 Mini and SuperPower hearing processors provide access to an increased dynamic range, but they provide appropriate gain and better audibility for even soft sounds.
  • No risk of feedback – While charts and graphs can show how much gain is provided by a product, those figures don’t take feedback into account. As a user moves through their day, the risk of feedback is ever-present; whether they’re hugging a loved one or taking off a hat. With traditional feedback management, gain is reduced whenever feedback is present. This limits users’ gain throughout the day. The Ponto 5 processor employs a feedback management strategy that not only maintains gain but prevents audible feedback.
  • Special programs – Ponto 5 makes several preset special purpose programs available to its users, including one for music. This program is specifically designed to further maintain music integrity by increasing gain for the mid and high frequencies and reducing compression for low frequencies.

As research and innovation expand our understanding of the therapeutic benefits of music, it becomes increasingly crucial to acknowledge and appreciate its profound influence on human well-being. Whether experienced in the concert hall or integrated into therapeutic settings, music exemplifies the resilience of the human spirit and the profound transformative effects of artistic expression.

At Oticon Medical, we know music occupies a central place in the human experience, enriching our lives on multiple levels—emotionally, cognitively, and socially. We view our users holistically ensuring their quality of life beyond improved speech understanding alone.

References

  1. Looi, Valerie & Rutledge, Kate & Prvan, Tania. (2018). Music Appreciation of Adult Hearing Aid Users and the Impact of Different Levels of Hearing Loss. Ear and Hearing. 40. 1. 10.1097/AUD.0000000000000632.
  2. Fancourt D, Finn S. What is the evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being? A scoping review [Internet]. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe; 2019. (Health Evidence Network synthesis report, No. 67.) SUMMARY. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK553775/
  3. Bradt J, Dileo C, Myers-Coffman K, Biondo J. Music interventions for improving psychological and physical outcomes in people with cancer. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2021, Issue 10. Art. No.: CD006911. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006911.pub4. Accessed 29 February 2024.
  4. Hanna-Pladdy, B., & MacKay, A. (2011). The relation between instrumental musical activity and cognitive aging. Neuropsychology, 25(3), 378–386. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0021895
  5. Jamie B Boster, Alyson M Spitzley, Taylor W Castle, Abby R Jewell, Christina L Corso, John W McCarthy, Music Improves Social and Participation Outcomes for Individuals With Communication Disorders: A Systematic Review, Journal of Music Therapy, Volume 58, Issue 1, Spring 2021, Pages 12–42, https://doi.org/10.1093/jmt/thaa015
  6. Meehan, S., Hough, E. A., Crundwell, G., Knappett, R., Smith, M., & Baguley, D. M. (2017). The impact of single-sided deafness upon music appreciation. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 28(05), 444-462.
  7. Jiam NT, Formeister EJ, Chari DA, David AP, Alsoudi AF, Purnell S, Jiradejvong P, Limb CJ. Music Perception in Bone-Anchored Hearing Implant Users. Laryngoscope. 2024 Mar;134(3):1381-1387. doi: 10.1002/lary.30919. Epub 2023 Sep 4. PMID: 37665102.
  8. Lagerkvist H, et al. (2020). Ten years of experience with the Ponto bone anchored hearing system – A systematic literature review. Clin Otolaryngol. 45(5):667-680.

 

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