Oticon Medical’s Clinical Specialist, Tory Burns, Shares his Experience with the Ponto 4
AudiologyOnline: Can you share a little of your history with hearing loss and any challenges it has presented in your life?
Tory Burns: I had an acoustic neuroma removed when I was 15. I completely lost my hearing in my left ear by the time I was 18. My good ear is normal. I cannot tell which direction sounds are coming from and I have significant difficulty hearing in background noise. I had to pre-plan before going out and assertively choose seating that most appropriately fit my hearing loss (since it is on the left, I would try to avoid having people sit or walk on my left side). I had tried several CROS-type solutions, and all were too “noisy” for me to wear for any length of time.
AudiologyOnline: What influence (if any) did your single-sided deafness have in choosing a career with Oticon Medical? Do you feel that being a Ponto wearer give you an “insider’s perspective” on hearing loss and how treatment can improve other wearers’ lives?
Tory Burns: I worked for Oticon, Inc. for four years, choosing this particular company because of its unique innovations and forward-looking technology. I then moved over to Oticon Medical because it was an opportunity to work with people struggling with the same hearing loss that I had.
I did not get a Ponto (bone anchored hearing system – BAHS) until 6 months after working for Oticon Medical. I did not specifically intend to do this but since I saw how easy the surgery was, it quickly became a no-brainer and I had to try it. I was a new dad and I wanted to make sure I was giving myself every opportunity to be a part of my daughter’s life.
I do definitely feel that I have an insider’s perspective as you say. I can relate to and emphasize difficulties that a person with single-sided deafness (SSD) has that might not be obvious even to them. I also can give them some assurance that having a Ponto generally won’t interfere with any of their activities no matter how physically demanding.
AudiologyOnline: How do you feel about the new features in Ponto 4?
Tory Burns: I wore my previous Ponto devices situationally. When I was in noise, I would have to turn it up all the way. Sometimes it was just a jumble of sounds, and while still helpful, I wanted more.
I now wake up every day and put on my Ponto 4 (never did that before, ever). It is like I am not even wearing anything. The sound quality is three-dimensional and speech “pops” out of the noise. I can hear speech in all directions from my left side. It is remarkable — after the start-up tone, you can hear sounds all jumbled and amplified, but within a second or two everything gets organized and cleaned up.
Also, I have never successfully streamed with any previous generation of Ponto. I could only hear the sound if I plugged up my good ear, which in my opinion, defeats the purpose.
AudiologyOnline: What kind of audio do you typically stream (e.g., phone calls, music) and how does it sound with Ponto 4?
Tory Burns: I’ve streamed sportscasts and phone calls while out in the yard working, walking down a busy road, and even in my car. It is clear and sounds fine. I could do none of this with the previous Pontos.
AudiologyOnline: Has your experience hearing in noisy environments improved with the Ponto 4?
Tory Burns: Yes, definitely. Voices are clear even in noise.
AudiologyOnline: Does the Ponto 4 provide enough amplification and clarity (as compared to the SuperPower)? Based on your experience, do you think it would work well for other Ponto 3 Power or SuperPower users with SSD?
Tory Burns: It is as powerful. I have plenty of headroom if I want it louder, and I would highly recommend Ponto 4 to SSD patients who are considering Ponto. The device does not need as much volume to compensate for hearing because the speech information is what the device is emphasizing.
AudiologyOnline: What do you think about the new (smaller, more discreet) design?
Tory Burns: The smaller size is a big part of my willingness to wear it more often.
AudiologyOnline: Does Ponto 4 support your busy career and lifestyle (e.g., social life, recreational activities)?
Tory Burns: I run a lot and wear my Ponto 4 for awareness on the street and trails. I also open-water swim in lakes and oceans but obviously don’t wear my Ponto for that. I bring it up though because having an abutment doesn’t limit by ability to swim at all. Because my Ponto 4 is very water-resistant, I don’t hesitate to wear it while I am active and on land. I’m also a dad to two kids so all of my other “recreation” opportunities are not mine, but theirs. I benefit from wearing my Ponto 4 everywhere.
AudiologyOnline: How does wearing Ponto 4 make you feel about yourself and the way you want others to see you?
Tory Burns: When I was not wearing a Ponto, I would have to really think and analyze my situation before, during, and after to ensure the best outcomes. It felt like a lot of work, day in and day out. When I wear my Ponto 4, I don’t have to “lean in” to the conversation with my good ear. I don’t have to choose which seat to sit in so that everyone is on my “good” side. If two people were talking to me, from in front or on my left and right sides, I had to turn slightly to my good right side to hear both equally well. I never have to do that with my Ponto 4.
In all, I have much more natural interactions with people on a daily basis. I feel better when I wear my Ponto 4 than when I don’t because hearing is less stressful when it is on.
AudiologyOnline: What do you want someone deciding whether to get Ponto 4 to know that hasn’t already been covered?
Tory Burns: It took getting the Ponto to really find out how much I was doing to compensate for my hearing loss. I realized how much work I was putting in daily and how much I was avoiding because of the difficulty. I also realized how much I was missing that I wasn’t aware of during the 20+ years I did nothing.
The new OPN™ technology in Ponto 4 is a game-changer. No other hearing aid or osseo-integrated device company can match the processing available in the Ponto 4. Listen to it for yourself. What do you have to lose?