Device worn partially in the mouth helping hearing-impaired East

Device worn partially in the mouth helping hearing-impaired East Tennesseans

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A breakthrough system to help the hearing impaired is available in Knoxville. What's different about this one? Part of the device is worn in the patient's mouth. A breakthrough system to help the hearing impaired is available in Knoxville. What's different about this one? Part of the device is worn in the patient's mouth.
It's a two part device called the Soundbite Hearing System, made by Sonitus. One part goes behind the patient's ear. It's a two part device called the Soundbite Hearing System, made by Sonitus. One part goes behind the patient's ear.
The other is fitted to the upper teeth. The other is fitted to the upper teeth.
"I check their mouth, make sure their teeth are sound and appropriate for the mouthpiece to fit," said Dr. Dana Martin, explaining his role. "I check their mouth, make sure their teeth are sound and appropriate for the mouthpiece to fit," said Dr. Dana Martin, explaining his role.
Christi Schulman suffered sudden sensory neural hearing loss on one side three years ago. She was told at the time there was a four percent chance her hearing would come back. Christi Schulman suffered sudden sensory neural hearing loss on one side three years ago. She was told at the time there was a four percent chance her hearing would come back.

By LORI TUCKER
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A breakthrough system to help the hearing impaired is available in Knoxville. What's different about this one? Part of the device is worn in the patient's mouth.

It's a two part device called the Soundbite Hearing System, made by Sonitus. One part goes behind the patient's ear, while the other is fitted to the upper teeth.

Christi Schulman visited Knoxville orthodontist Dr. Dana Martin to make sure her device is fitting correctly.

Schulman showed us how she can easily take the device out of her mouth if she wants and pop it back in without a problem.

Combined with a small behind-the-ear microphone unit worn on her impaired ear, the device helps her to hear by conducting sound through her teeth to the inner ear.

Schulman has had the Soundbite Hearing System for about a month. When she first learned about it, she was skeptical.

"I thought, there's no way this is going to work, right?" she said with a laugh

After an audiologist with Vanderbilt University Medical Center determined Soundbite was a good fit for Schulman, her next step was Dr. Martin's office.

"I check their mouth, make sure their teeth are sound and appropriate for the mouthpiece to fit," said Dr. Martin, explaining his role.

He took an impression of Schulman's teeth, made a cast, then sent it off to the lab for a custom fit. He usually doesn't hear back from the patient unless the device in the mouth needs to be adjusted.

Everything else is left up to audiologists.

In Knoxville, Ear Nose and Throat Consultants of East Tennessee at Parkwest offer the Soundbite Hearing System.

Schulman suffered sudden sensory neural hearing loss on one side three years ago. She was told at the time there was a four percent chance her hearing would come back.

She says Soundbite is "incredible."

Schulman is in her 30s, but Soundbite is helping patients of all ages. Colleen Ferron, 72, loves music and plays the organ at church. She says she couldn't hold back the tears of joy when she heard music with both ears for the first time in a long time.

Erica Allen, only 22, says her world has opened up now that she can hear out of both ears.

Soundbite is designed for people like Schulman, Ferron and Allen, who have hearing loss on one side.

Total cost, says Dr. Martin, is around $6,000. Insurance may cover some of the orthodontic work, but not the hearing device. There are often financial plans you can look into.

To find out if Soundbite Hearing System is right for you, contact:

ENT Consultants of East Tennessee
Physicians Hearing Care
9430 Park West Blvd., Suite 330
Knoxville, TN 37923
(865) 282-4894
www.knoxvillehearing.com

To learn more about the Soundbite Hearing System, visit www.sonitusmedical.com

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