Objective: To evaluate the validity of a bone-anchored hearing aid (BAHA) Softband (fitted unilaterally and bilaterally) in young children with bilateral congenital aural atresia.
Subjects: Two children with severe bilateral congenital conductive hearing loss, who had been fitted with a transcutaneous BAHA Softband at the age of 3 and 28 months, respectively. The latter child had been fitted with a conventional bone-conduction hearing aid at the age of 3 months; at 28 months, this child had received the BAHA Softband and after 5 months of unilateral application, the BAHA Softband was fitted bilaterally. Follow-up in the two children was 31 and 17 months, respectively.
Methods: Using the artificial mastoid, gain and maximum output were studied in this new transcutaneous application of the BAHA, with the BAHA Classic and the BAHA Compact as sound processor. Results were compared to those obtained with a conventional bone-conduction device (Oticon E 300 P). Aided thresholds and sound lateralization scores were assessed with double visual reinforcement audiometry (VRA). To test the validity of the BAHA Softband, the speech and language development of the children was assessed by means of age-appropriate tests (the preverbal Symbolic play test and the Dutch non-speech test for receptive and expressive language and the Dutch version of the Reynell language test).
Results: The electro-acoustic measurements showed minor differences in gain between the three devices. At a reduced volume setting, the mean input level at which the output levelled off was largely comparable between the BAHA Classic and the conventional device, but somewhat poorer with the BAHA Compact. Both children showed speech and language development that was in accordance with their cognitive development.
Conclusions: The BAHA Softband was a valid intervention in children with congenital bilateral aural atresia who were too young for percutaneous BAHA application.