BAHA programme benefits 4 hearing-impaired patients

National 2 minutes, 35 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

FOUR hearing-impaired patients have successfully undergone the Bone Anchored Hearing Aid (BAHA) programme in Brunei to date, a senior member of Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital said yesterday.

In an exclusive interview with The Brunei Times on the sidelines of the ENT Update Seminar 2014, RIPAS Head of Otorhinolaryngology (ORL) Department Pg Hjh Norsuhazenah Pg Suhaili said BAHA was only introduced by the Ministry of Health ORL Department at government hospitals in March

this year.

Pg Hjh Norsuhazenah said that phase one of the BAHA programme in March saw two patients being operated on – a child who was five years old at the time, and a teenager who was 17.

Meanwhile, phase two of the BAHA programme in August saw an additional two hearing-impaired patients: a 45-year-old adult and a 21-year-old student.

Unlike conventional hearing aids which are usually worn behind the ear or on the ear, BAHA differs in that it can be used by patients who may not have outer ears, narrow or no ear canals, mild formed pinnas or no pinnas.

BAHA can also be used by patients who experience chronic ear infections whereby their ears are continuously discharging, making them unable to wear conventional hearing aids optimally.

In short, this means that with BAHA, it does not matter whether parts of the outer ear are present, Pg Hjh Norsuhazenah said.

“The principal of BAHA is that a titanium screw gets implanted into temporal bone (behind the ear) which osseointegrates or knits together with the surrounding bone, allowing it to be sturdy and be able to conduct sound vibrations effectively.

“The conducted sound vibrations are then passed on to your inner ear directly – the cochlea – which is the organ of hearing, directly,” she explained.

Another advantage of BAHA is its permanence, Pg Hjh Norsuhazenah pointed out.

“By virtue, being part of your bone, it’s going to be there for a long time – it’s not something you can drill in and drill out,” she said.

Among some of the impacts of hearing loss on hearing-impaired patients were delayed development of speech and language in children and effects on psychological and mental health for adults, she further said.

According to the ORL Department Head, the programme has been “progressing very well” for all the local BAHA patients, as it has allowed them to hear normally in both ears.

“That’s very significant. You’ll probably not notice it as a young child, but as you move on and get older and move to settings like classrooms, your hearing needs will be different and that’s when the problem is more noticeable,” she said.

When asked, Pg Hjh Norsuhazenah said that BAHA has been ongoing for more than three decades, in the global setting.

“The next level (for us in Brunei) is to increase awareness, as it’s an intraspecialty at the moment. Part of the purpose for this seminar is to make it known to our primary healthcare colleagues that we do run this service and that if you have suitable patients, to refer (to us),” she said.

The Brunei Times