CHEO Telethon

Bone conduction hearing aids (BCHA)

Pediatric audiologists know that early and consistent access to sound is not only crucial to a child’s development of listening and spoken language skills but to brain development, language acquisition, social and emotional health. And as parents there is nothing more special than knowing our children can hear our voices and connect with siblings and the world around them. Research has clearly shown that the earlier a child with hearing loss is fit with hearing aids, the more likely they are to do well in all areas of life.

There are times however when the use of a conventional hearing aid is not possible. The reasons for that can be medical or anatomical due to the absence of an outer and/or middle ear. This is when a bone conduction hearing aid is the only device capable of providing sound. These devices send vibrations through the bones of the skull directly to the inner ear. Children can wear them on a band that rests on their head and when they are old enough, surgery can permanently affix the device.

Knowing that these devices hold the key to a hearing-impaired child’s development and enjoyment of life, make them a priority for audiologists and concerned parents. Yet the current provincial funding model does not cover a child’s first BCHA and costs are only covered five years after the child matures enough to have surgery to implant the device. Families must cover all initial costs, which are substantial. Knowing how time sensitive intervention is to correct hearing loss, this situation is stressful beyond measure for families who simply cannot afford that first BCHA. Due to increased numbers of children being fitted with bone conduction hearing aids, the Foundation, thanks to community support, has been there to help meet the demand to ensure all children can benefit from the gift of hearing.