A Malibu man has become the first person in the Los Angeles area to once again hear in surround sound with the Sophono implantable bone conduction hearing device. Surgeons at the House Clinic in Los Angeles performed the first surgery at St Vincent Medical Center.
An audiologist from the House Clinic fit Van Vibber, a 67-year-old marketing professional, with the Sophono Alpha 2 hearing device. Vibber has suffered from Meniere’s disease for several years. As a result of the disease, the hearing in his right ear experienced profound loss.
“This new technology will help many patients hear better,” said William H. Slattery III, MD, a neurotologist at the House Clinic. “Any patients with hearing loss in one ear should consider this type of technology to help them communicate more effectively.”
The Sophono Alpha system, which uses implantable magnets, will allow Vibber to wear a small device that will conduct sound to the patient’s ear with normal hearing. In late November, Slattery performed a procedure to prepare Vibber for the fitting of the Sophono Alpha 2. He placed two small magnets against the man’s skull, just beneath the skin. With the area healed, an audiologist at the House Clinic will place a third magnet against Vibber’s scalp, and fasten the Sophono Alpha 2 to the outer magnet. The magnets will send sound vibrations directly into Vibber’s hearing ear, and he will immediately begin to hear sound from all sides.
Sophono Inc is a Colorado-based medical device manufacturer specializing in implantable, bone conduction hearing devices. The company’s FDA-cleared Sophono Alpha 2 is reportedly the only abutment-free, implantable, bone-anchored hearing device on the market, treating those with conductive hearing loss, mixed hearing loss, and single-sided deafness, as in Vibber’s case.
In addition to the improved hearing is the cosmetic element inherent in the Sophono Alpha system, says Sophono President and CEO Jim Kasic, who maintains that other bone conduction devices involve drilling a hole in the patient’s skull and installing a noticeable screw that is visible on the side of the head. In contrast, the Sophono device is small and unobtrusive, according to the company.
“The cosmetic element of a hearing device is very important,” says Kasic. “Eliminating self-consciousness about a hearing device positively influences self-confidence and the ability to socialize, and even plays a role in professional situations.”