Using a Bone Conduction Hearing Device as a Tactile Aid

Audiol Res. 2023 Jun 7;13(3):459-465. doi: 10.3390/audiolres13030040.


Background: With the advent of cochlear implants, tactile aids for the profoundly deaf became obsolete decades ago. Nevertheless, they might still be useful in rare cases. We report the case of a 25-year-old woman with Bosley-Salih-Alorainy Syndrome and bilateral cochlear aplasia.

Methods: After it was determined that cochlear or brainstem implants were not an option and tactile aids were not available anymore, a bone conduction device (BCD) on a softband was tried as a tactile aid. The usual retroauricular position and a second position close to the wrist, preferred by the patient, were compared. Sound detection thresholds were measured with and without the aid. Additionally, three bilaterally deaf adult cochlear implant users were tested under the same conditions.

Results: At 250-1000 Hz, sounds were perceived as vibrations above approximately 45-60 dB with the device at the wrist. Thresholds were approximately 10 dB poorer when placed retroauricularly. Differentiation between different sounds seemed difficult. Nevertheless, the patient uses the device and can perceive loud sounds.

Conclusions: Cases where the use of tactile aids may make sense are probably very rare. The use of BCD, placed, e.g., at the wrist, may be useful, but sound perception is limited to low frequencies and relatively loud levels.

Keywords: bone conduction; cochlear aplasia; sound field; sound processor; tactile aids; vibratory sensation.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.